Edgar Wright

Edgar Wright

Edgar Wright was born in England, growing up in the rural areas of the towns of Dorset and Wells. As a child, he loved movies, especially sci-fi and action adventures, and he followed the careers of filmmakers George Lucas and Steven Spielberg religiously. One day, his father bought him a small 8mm movie camera, and Wright the filmmaker was born. Quickly understanding the features of the camera, Wright used the single-frame advance for animation and to create the simple illusion of flight - he and his brother Oscar would leap into the air and click off one frame of film in mid-jump; when projected at normal speed, the boys appeared to be hovering in the air.By the age of 14, he was ready to consider more serious stuff. Gathering 15 of his friends to act and work behind the scenes, Wright made his first short film, "Rolf Harris Saves the World," a comedy about a super-agent version of entertainer Rolf Harris, played by a friend with a slight passing resemblance, who fights terrorists. Shot in the surrounding hills and valleys over a couple of days, Wright spruced up the movie with hand-drawn animation and titles, a primitive yet painstaking process. But when Wright screened the completed film for his classmates during a school lunch break, he found that they laughed and reacted at all the right spots. His efforts had paid off, and Wright knew he had found the right career.But in the days prior to video and digital cameras, filmmaking was a costly, labor-intensive endeavor. With the expense of multiple three-minute film reels adding up, Wright worked after school in a supermarket stacking shelves, all to finance his movies. He proceeded on to a sequel, "Rolf Harris 2: The Bearded One," this time a full half hour. Ever the businessman, Wright charged his friends to watch his movies and also other films he began compiling for festivals. He then created an animated film for a contest sponsored by Comic Relief, with the requirements that it feature one of their causes. Wright stayed up night after night creating a stop-motion film about wheelchair accessibility and he won first prize - a video camera. Freed from the high costs of film stock and the labors of processing the film before seeing results, Wright went wild, making longer, more ambitious and always funny movies, such as "Carbolic Soap" - about a superhero who takes on the properties of soap, skidding around at high speed and firing suds from his hands - and "A Fistful of Fingers" - an hour-long western spoof. His final amateur video project was a full-length police movie, packed with action scenes and a cast of 70. By the age of 19, Wright enrolled in a film course at a local art college, where he took important steps toward learning how to shoot and cut film on a more professional level. After his first year, he knew he had to get more ambitious still, so remade his western on 16mm film. Again, he pulled together an enormous cast and crew from friends, classmates and townspeople, and the film was his first to be made within the confines of a schedule and a budget. The film, "A Fistful of Fingers" - went into distribution in England, as well as an airing on Sky Channel, Britain's satellite television.Broke, but more determined than ever to launch his career, Wright plunged into writing a new script - a comedy about teenagers back in his home city of Wells. One night, he caught a comedy act by Matt Lucas, and persuaded him and his partner, David Williams, to look at his script; instead they convinced Wright to direct their comedy sketches. The project, "Mash & Peas" (1996), aired on the Paramount Comedy Channel in the United Kingdom. Wright next directed a comedy follow-up, "Asylum," (1996, Paramount Comedy Channel) where he met future collaborator Simon Pegg, a comic actor in the show.Wright's career was getting more secure, and in 1998, he was hired by the BBC to direct episodes of a handful of series such as, "Is it Bailey?" (BBC, 1998) "Murder Most Horrid" (1991-99) and "French & Saunders" (BBC, 1987-). During this time, Pegg and comedienne Jessica Stevenson were creating a comedy project and asked Wright to direct it - the show became the sketch comedy sitcom, "Spaced" (1999-2001), which ran on British television's Channel 4. Despite low budgets and a rigorous shooting schedule, the show, which ran for 14 episodes over two seasons, was enormously popular and earned strong critical acclaim, going on to become a cult hit on DVD and through internet downloads. One of the "Spaced" segments revolved around Pegg's character, Tim, getting trapped in a video game based on "Resident Evil." The sketch became the inspiration for the project which truly put them on the map: "Shaun of the Dead" (2004). Wright and Pegg began tossing thoughts back and forth about doing a zombie film as a comedy. Initially they dismissed their own idea, convinced that the horror comedy realm had already run its course. But the ideas continued to pile up, as they took the horror comedy once step further, bringing in a romance angle. They started writing the script - about an ordinary guy who must fight off zombies and win back his ex-girlfriend at the same time. Wright and Pegg cheekily coined the new genre, the "rom-zom-com." "Shaun of the Dead," was a hit in the United States - where good timing had it coming out just after the success of the remake of "Dawn of the Dead" - and was a box office smash in Britain, where it racked up two BAFTA nominations, and the prize for Best Screenplay at the British Independent Film Awards. George Romero, director of the original "Dawn of the Dead" (1978), as well as its predecessor, "Night of the Living Dead" (1968), the zombie movie that started it all, enthusiastically endorsed the new, along with directors such as Quentin Tarantino, Peter Jackson and Sam Raimi.An unabashed fan of action movies good and bad, Wright next turned his focus toward giving that genre the same humorous, somewhat spoofed take, with "Hot Fuzz" (2007). This time out, Pegg, again in the lead role, played a supercop who is so good at what he does, that he starts making the rest of the force look bad. Thus demoted to backwater rural division, he becomes reluctant partners with an ordinary cop, played by Nick Frost - capitalizing on the chemistry they shared as costars in "Shaun" - when grisly murders start breaking out in the otherwise sleepy community. To much hilarity, the two must band together to solve the crime. The film was another critical and commercial hit, leaving Wright cemented as a force to be reckoned with on both sides of the pond.Even as recognition with the moviegoing public grew, his popularity among industry insiders was never in doubt. Wright was tapped by Tarantino and director Robert Rodriguez to create a fake movie trailer for their ode to 1970s B movies, "Grindhouse," also in 2007. Wright crafted a trailer for a fictional horror movie, entitled "Don't," where a sinister announcer continually advises the audience that if they are considering stepping into a decrepit house, wandering into a dark basement, or visiting a spooky woods - "Don't." It even followed the tradition of British horror movie trailers where dialogue is left out in the U.S. to avoid revealing accents.Fresh off the success of "Hot Fuzz," Wright also attached himself to a big-screen version of the Marvel Comics character of Ant-Man. Drawn to the obscure superhero whose ability is to shrink down to the size of an insect, Wright stated that, as a lifelong comic book fan, he intended to make a film that was focused more on action than comedy. However, Wright left the project after completing the script but before principal photography began due to creative differences, replaced by Peyton Reed. Wright's next film was the smaller-scale "Baby Driver" (2017), an action-heavy homage to the car chase films of the 1970s.