The 10 Most Interesting Directors of the Now: Edgar Wright
Being a movie buff and compulsive list reader I’ve read my share of Top 10 Directors lists and they usually a combination of the same short list. Spielberg, Kubrick, Scorsese and Lucas for the misguided few. Instead of looking at the wider scope of directors, this series will list the ten most interesting directors currently working. This isn’t a medal count, or a list of the big names, but a celebration of the people who have brought a unique voice to the field, reinvented the way we see movies and most importantly, people we can’t wait to see more from.
This isn’t a countdown, they’re not ranked in any way, but instead just a list of the ten biggest stand-outs in the field. First up: Edgar Wright!
Edgar Wright cut his teeth with the independent 16mm satirical parody A Fistful of Fingers. This low budget comedy made a couple of appearances on television bringing him to the attention of local comedians looking for directors. From there Wright worked on several projects for different British comedians, including working with Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson on Asylum.
Having remembered this young up-and-comer and enjoying having worked with him, Pegg and Stevenson approached him to direct the sitcom they were working on – Spaced. Wright took an unconventional approach to the material, employing camera techniques employed in big budget genre films. Quick cuts and unusual transitions also gave the show a unique look making Wright as much a star of the show as Pegg, Frost and Stevenson.
Another factor that made Spaced a fan favourite was its unbridled love of pop-culture. A massive range of films, comics, TV shows and games were parodied in the show (to the point that a separate subtitle track identifying them was added to the DVD) without it feeling like a gimmick.
The team of Pegg, Frost and Wright then took to the big screen. Shaun of the Dead – a genre mash-up of romcom and zombies – saw Wright’s unique crash-editing and whizzing camera work fit the silver screen better then it did the small screen. The natural comedic charm of the leads brought in the big audiences with Wright’s cinematic debut becoming a cult classic and a mainstream hit all at once with its iconic title character now instantly familiar to geeks everywhere.
They followed up this slice of fried gold with another genre parody in Hot Fuzz, a slicker, more confident film with the actors stepping out of their comfort zones whilst Edgar refines his style. Whilst rumours about an Ant-Man adaptation did the rounds, geeks were kept waiting for his next project.
A couple of years ago and rather splendid fellow named Gary gave me a free comic from his store because he had a feeling I’d like it. That was ‘Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life’ and every person who has had contact with me since knows about the gushing, obsessive fandom this act of charity prompted. On explaining the series to my then-girlfriend-now-wife I noted that it’s ‘ a lot like Spaced’.
Then Edgar Wright was announced as the director and fans of the cult indie comic series swooned. Taking a break from his team of Pegg and Frost after two successful movies and a television series, Wright assembled a cast of new and experienced young actors, taught them all to fight like awesome ninjas, rock like rockstars and drenched the whole thing in CGI. Even though this is the first time he’s worked on an adaptation, on a much bigger project than before, it all featured that unique Edgar Wright vibe. Speaking as a ‘Scott Pilgrim’ fanatic this film version delivered the material in an unexpected and pitch-perfect manner, delighting existing fans while bringing more new people to the table. Creating such a unique, brilliant movie that balances a large cast, musical numbers, CGI, fight sequences and more is a huge under-taking and a testament to the talent on show.
Coming up next is a reunion with Pegg and Frost to complete the ‘Three Flavours Cornetto’ triology, following up Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz with The World’s End. Whilst little is known about this film, the director’s filmography speaks for itself and we anticipate great things. As much as we love seeing film-makers push their own boundaries (hear that, Tim Burton?), having Wright direct at least one more movie with the classic comedy duo he made his debut with is also a treat we couldn’t turn down.
Edgar Wright’s hyper-kinetic editing style, pop-culture drenched comedy and sheer sense of fun makes him one of the most interesting directors working in the now.
While we wait news on that, he’s the fake trailer he made for Grindhouse!