How to: Baby Driver (2017) – The Opening Sequence

How to: It’s simple, really. Pick a scene you like, find the screenplay, and compare the two. Highlight the similarities, differences, and how effectively the writer communicates the specifics of the scene itself. Most ripe for analysis are editorially complex sequences, performance heavy scenes, as well as action set pieces.

Screenplay by: Edgar Wright

Whether you’re a film enthusiast or a recreational film go-er, I think we can all (mostly) agree that Baby Driver is the summer of 2017.

What excites people about Baby Driver is simple; we haven’t seen anything quite like it. Consumed with energy, color, fervor, tension, meticulously paced beats, effortlessly intertwined music, humor, love, loss… Other films most definitely posses these characteristics, as well, but it’s the way Edgar Wright went about it, placing his latest establishment into its own ballpark.

Wright took no time to grab our attention, opening Baby Driver with an almost six-minute segment full of zero dialogue and instead, tension: tension that leaves you gripping your face and teetering off your seat. Let’s take a moment to see how this ambitious opening holds up in the screenplay vs. the big screen.

Disclaimer: While I couldn’t get my hands on the latest version, I was able to track down a draft consisting of first round revisions, dated from August 15th, 2014 – a fascinating opportunity to get a glimpse inside Wright’s mind early on in the creative process. Now, getting to it: the first four-pages…

An obvious (and not so surprising change) was that Baby Driver was originally set in Los Angeles, but the film ultimately became centered on Atlanta.

What stuck out the most upon reading this segment was how much actually made it to final. I mean, a draft from three years ago?! That’s impressive stuff right there, especially when Baby Driver – starting with these pages – is seamlessly packed with explicit detail showcasing action co-existing with music; that’s not easy to do.

Sure, minor elements changed (as expected), most of which I was happy to discover. For example, in this early draft there were tiny gags. I, personally, found that distracting:

The stroller and baby wave was cut. This may seem like a minor change, but in actuality, it’s pretty substantial. Instead, Wright allowed us to solely focus on Baby – no gags, just Baby. This was vital toward our Lead’s set up and further development.

Even though much of this segment aligned with the final cut (as you can read above), the main divergence I generally observed was how different it read on paper vs. what appeared on screen. I’m talking about how I absorbed the words and interpreted its moments. To back track quickly…

Wright did a great job introducing his characters: I, personally, envisioned exactly what was produced (aside from ages, but that’s not a big deal in a draft this early). It’s evident that, from the beginning, he had a vivid picture of who he was creating:

But once the introductions passed, actions fell a bit flat in comparison to how elaborate the completed version was.

Playing devil’s advocate (and I can’t stress enough that this was Wright’s first round of revisions!), it’s well known that screenwriters should refrain from executing lengthy or excessively wordy descriptions.

Yet, for such an explosive opening – particularly one that has no dialogue – I wanted to feel the action on paper. In this draft, I felt it lacked and read choppy, given his eventual intent. As an example:

Whoever had the chance to see Baby Driver will understand that this (awesome) scene –showcasing Baby disguised between two red cars – falls short here. The minimal portrayal above doesn’t nearly convey the intensity that this moment ended up being. Also, if you refer back to the first example I shared, you’ll likely see that our big introduction of Baby (jamming to ‘Bellbottoms’) wasn’t as involved as in the final cut.

Another way this can all be observed is through the page count: the opening segment was four-pages, yet on screen it came out to be almost six-minutes. That tells me Wright focused on pushing his film to, ultimately, be more engaging for his viewers and it definitely paid off: the engagement I felt whilst watching was a primary reason as to why I instantaneously got hooked. I hope this was the case for others, as well.

Wright took on a mighty task with Baby Driver, especially writing it so unconventionally (relying on music, literally) – I have great respect for this. I’m certain that with an early draft dated from 2014, part of the development was to get his ideas out before flourishing it as an entity. Creating is a process, after all. To me, it’s evident he had a set vision, stuck to his gut, and further matured this vision which resulted in such a successful hit.

All-said-and-done, Baby Driver stands confident as an individual amongst the vast archive of films that exist – it was electrifying. I can’t wait to read a more updated version of the script once available.


Danielle Karagannis is a writer/director. She currently has a feature script entitled INSOMNIA (ensemble comedy) that’s been accepted into filmmaker labs and is taking her to the 2018 Berlinale / EFM. You can watch Danielle‘s latest film, GIRL (short), here: http://www.daniellekaragannis.com/watch and can follow her on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cansathefan/.


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Danielle Karagannis

Author Danielle Karagannis

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