There is no one correct way to direct a movie. Most filmmakers nowadays shoot loads of coverage — i.e. all of the footage necessary to effectively cut the movie together in post-production. This approach gives directors a variety of options in the edit to shape each scene to their liking. Other filmmakers know precisely what they want each day they show up on set, and shoot only what they need to piece together the scene as they've imagined it (typically via storyboard).

Edgar Wright falls fairly solidly into the latter category. He's a master stylist who frames and cuts with purpose. His editing rhythms are uniquely, invigoratingly musical; from the Queen-scored set piece at the Winchester in "Shaun of the Dead" to the percussive "Tequila" gunfight in "Baby Driver," he has most of the movie mapped out in his mind. He's not fanatically anti-coverage like one of his filmmaking heroes, Brian De Palma (who's repeatedly called coverage a "dirty word"), nor is he Kubrickian as to the lengths he'll ensure each take is bang-on. At least, not all the time. Like any director with a perfectionist streak, Wright can find himself molding a performance down to the last tic, or, in the case of Anna Kendrick's reaction to Kieran Culkin yet again stealing her boyfriend in "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," the last blink — or lack thereof.

The Camera Never Blinks, And Neither Does Anna Kendrick

In a career retrospective interview with Vanity Fair tied to the release of Mary Nighy's psychological thriller "Alice, Darling," Kendrick recalls Wright subjecting her to multiple takes because she kept blinking. The scene in question is her character's crash zoom reaction to Mary Elizabeth Winstead saying, "Tell your gay friends I said 'bye.'" Wright cuts from a two-shot of the actors to a close-up of Kendrick that suddenly gets a lot closer as she sees Culkin making out with her date.

As Kendrick told VF, "We had to do that crash zoom so many times because Edgar's so hyper-specific, he doesn't even let you blink." Never? "There would be specific times where he was like, 'Oh, a perfectly timed blink here would be okay,'" said Kendrick. "This was very generous of him."

Kendrick elaborated:

"He wanted me to turn, react, then the crash zoom happens, then I say the line or something like that. Bill Pope, the cinematographer, ended up taking over operating the camera and the crash zoom, and I could see, like, every time we would kind of overcompensate for the other where we had, like, missed the moment perfectly. It just took forever."

While Wright has changed up his aesthetic (as evidenced by his hauntingly beautiful "Last Night in Soho," which largely unfolds in gorgeously choreographed long takes), Kendrick now observes a strict crash-zoom policy. "To this day… I do my own crash zooms," she said. "So the joke is that if you need to do a crash zoom, I'll just get myself really close to the camera." How's this working for her? "People don't like that."

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The post Edgar Wright's Meticulous Cinematic Timing Can Include When Actors Are Allowed to Blink appeared first on /Film.