Let's talk about your working relationship with Edgar Wright. You guys have worked together for a long time.
Slater: I'm very blessed to have Edgar as a director who works with me, because even if you count Edgar's first movie [Shaun of the Dead] and his most recent movie, those two in and of themselves, are two original and unique and genius pieces of filmmaking, let alone if you want to throw in Scott Pilgrim and Hot Fuzz and the other ones.
I'm very lucky to work with Edgar, and the fact that he's very loyal. You know, he is a very loyal filmmaker. His picture editors, he's used over and over again, and his composer and his DOP.
We've got to the point where there's a shorthand. I know how Edgar works, and I know that he's a bit of a machine gun of ideas. He will come to you with this, I call it a sonic playground. He sets up this infrastructure. He'll say to me, "This is the area we're going to go in." But he doesn't really concentrate on the small details, the minutiae. He hands it over to me and says, "Right, now you take it. You go off in the direction that you want to go in." Then I'll have a play and present him with an array of different ideas, and then he'll start honing them down and picking at them.
It's kind of like the best way to work because he doesn't micromanage. He's thinking of the big picture, and, quite often, his big picture is something that's, in and of itself, very unique. He gets me involved pretty early on. We'll have multiple discussions before the shoot. We're not really involved in the shoot, although I will speak to the production mixer and sometimes the producer about various aspects of how things are done.
Then he gets me on board very early on in the director's cut. Normally, what happens is, you have a director's cut, which takes about 10 weeks, and someone like me comes in at that point. With Edgar, I'm involved three weeks into the director's cut. He hasn't even done his first pass on the movie before I get involved. I'm in a room literally next door to him so there's the two picture editors, and then there's me. So then Edgar can come in, and we start playing with sounds at the very beginning of his editorial process.
Can you describe the difference in the way that you worked on Baby Driver versus other movies that you've done?
Slater: What's great about Baby Driver for someone like me is that Edgar wrote that script around the sounds of the movie. I mean, the sound of the movie is a character. So, you know, what we try to do with the overall sound of the movie is help you understand Baby's journey. Baby obviously has this hearing issue, this deficiency, this tinnitus caused by this car accident, so he listens to music the whole time.
So we do a few things. Whenever Baby is not listening to music in the mix, we're hearing the tinnitus sound, which in and of itself changes depending on the environment. So sometimes it's that high-pitched whistle that you've heard in other movies. But because there's so much of it in Baby Driver, we knew that that was going to get annoying and grate on the audience. So what tinnitus is in the movie changes from scene to scene. Sometimes it's held strings. Sometimes it's brake squeals that are constant. Sometimes it's that high-pitched whistle. It gets louder in the mix as Baby gets more stressed. But it's always there whenever he's not listening to music.