“Shaun of the Dead” set out to spoof the world of zombie movies — and in the process became one of the best undead flicks of all time. “Hot Fuzz” similarly became exactly what it set out to poke fun at: high-throttle buddy-cop movies. Now, our 10 to Watch in 2010 countdown continues with the filmmaker behind those two instant classics, as he puts the finishing touches on a movie that seems determined to spoof, well, everything else.
Based on the beloved comic series by Bryan Lee O’Malley, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” tells the tale of a 23-year-old slacker (Michael Cera) determined to win the heart of a girl named Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) but forced to do battle with her seven ex-boyfriends. In an exclusive chat, Wright promised us action, music, dancing, huge special effects and a finished product somewhere between “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Freaks and Geeks” and “The Matrix.”
MTV: Congratulations, Edgar, you’re one of our 10 to Watch in 2010.
Edgar Wright: Oh, thank you.
MTV: So where is “Scott Pilgrim” at? Do you have a final cut?
Wright: Yeah, we have a cut, and we’re still tinkering with that. It’s a different thing doing a film with lots of effects in it; it’s like another stage to have production be going on during the edit, which is an ongoing thing. It’s like a painting, basically. There will probably come a point where the film will be essentially finished, apart from the effects, which will still be ongoing. But [our release date] is in August … so, we’re not rushing the effects or anything.
MTV: We know you’ve shown it to some friends like Jason Schwartzman and director Greg Mottola. Why is that an important part of your process?
Wright: I’m into little screenings for people. It’s easy to show a screening to those in the industry, because they understand what an unfinished film looks like. So anyone who was swinging through town in London saw it, and then one night I was in Los Angeles, and I showed it to some other people. … [Once] I think I watched it about seven times in one week. You learn as much from showing it to one person as you do [with] a test audience.
MTV: Recently, you showed some footage to director Jason Reitman and he tweeted that it was a ” ‘Matrix’ for love.” What did you think of that comment?
Wright: That was really nice. It’s funny, because I’ve used that as a touchstone a couple of times. I guess there’s some sort of level of reality in the film that makes it pretty unique. When I hired [cinematographer] Bill Pope to be DP — amongst his many films and TV shows he’s done [are] “Freaks and Geeks” and “The Matrix.” And I said to Bill: Imagine this film is equidistant between those two projects. Imagine the film is slap-bang in the middle of “Freaks and Geeks” and “The Matrix.”
MTV: Anything else influence the actors?
Wright: Well, this is interesting — the night before we started filming, Michael Cera came up to my apartment and we watched “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” as our “good-luck film.” And that became hugely bittersweet when John [Hughes] died once we started filming. That made it more emotional, in ways.
MTV: A lot of your actors have alluded to some interesting techniques that you’re employing on this film. What can you tell us about the look of the action scenes, in particular?
Wright: Well, there’s a bit of everything, really. We try to represent the art of the books, and there’s also the element of graphics and animation, and there’s digital work too, but then at the same time there’s a lot of stuff that’s in-camera — so there really is a combination of all the three. There’s some green-screen stuff, but it’s not solely that. It’s really a combination of all the different techniques, and that’s what makes it fun. … You’ll also be surprised when you see how much the actors are doing their own stunts and fights. It’s quite astonishing.
MTV: What is your favorite of these sequences?
Wright: I don’t have one. Until it’s all done and dusted, it’s pretty difficult to say [which one]. Some of the action sequences are like musicals; they are almost like dance numbers. … There’s an element of spectacle to it, in terms of the fights are like dance numbers in a way, which is where Jackie Chan’s school of fighting comes from. Jackie Chan is most similar to Gene Kelly in terms of the way he approaches a sequence — the spectacle and theatricality to it.
MTV: So we can look forward to a wonderful, theatrical spectacle next August.
Wright: Hopefully. Usually when you edit movies, there will be a sequence where you watch and they say, “Hey, put that on again!” You’re trying to work and you end up watching the scene [over and over], and it just keeps changing because you have temp score, and then you start getting parts of the real score in, and it changes hugely. As long as you keep getting excited by it, that’s the main thing. And I never get tired of watching these action scenes at all.
Check out everything we’ve got on “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.”
For breaking comic book movie news, columns and more — updated around the clock — visit SplashPage.MTV.com.