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Shooting a car scene without budget

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#1 Giacomo Girolamo

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Posted 27 December 2017 - 03:14 PM

Hi everyone, on February I'm going to shoot a short film (5, 6 minutes long) and I have an scene in a car.

The scene is short, least than 2 minutes, and have just a little of dialogue (a monologue in fact). The talent is an old lady. the scene is in the day, and the background has to be some kind of road or highway, but is not important to have a lot of cars, and anything happens with the road itself.

 

Now, the tricky parts. First of all, is a short film practically without budget, so we can't have a car rig or a car trailer. Second, is important for the plot that the passenger seat is hide from the camera, so I already sketch some shots from behind and from the side (shooting in the passanger seat), and I think their going to work, but I'll glad to hear your thought an ideas about this. Third, the character is kinda clumsy, so is important that when she monologue, she take off the belt and forget to put it back, or maybe look the radio and no the road, or when she grab something from the passenger seat, that the car maybe shake for a moment before the woman take control of the wheel again. Is nothing from a Fast and the Furious movie, but I told you because I don't do it anything like that in a busy road with a lot of cars.

About sound, I think that, like most of the shot we barely see the woman's mouth, we're going MOS and later do ADR of that scene, and fill all the car sounds with the sound engineering.

And like the background is not that important, I think to get a place (like a farm) when the talent can drive in an internal road and there's not going to be cars around.

 

That's were my thought about the scene, but looking for information, I find that you can take the "poor man's shot" an film the car stationary. Anyone can tell me your experience with this? I understand this is the best way for safety reason's, but I have the feel that if increase the cost of the short film (for all the work in post with a green screen) the director is going to veto the idea.

 

What about the talent driving while acting? Is going to hurt her performance or you believe it doesn't matter?

 

If you want to know, the scene has to be mundane but at the same time, is important that you (the audience) notice how careless or clumsy is the woman. Also, is the first scene of the short film, so to me is important that have quality because if you get distracted by some thing wrong, is going to damage the rest of the short film.

 

Oh, and the last one. It should be a sunny day (for plot reasons) so what about the lighting? If I could, I'll shot in a cloudy day, but that's not possible.

 

 

So, do you have some thoughts on the matter, or have any experience could help me?

 

Let me know if you need to know more about the story or the production. I have some sketches from the location (the car) about camera position and some story boards, but I can't upload from here. If you want them, let me know.

 

Thanks a lot, bye!


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#2 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 27 December 2017 - 03:36 PM

We've all been in this situation. Car scenes without the proper equipment. If you are going to be handheld in the car, make sure the camera is securely attached to a firm point in the car, so that if you were to be in an accident, the camera does not go flying around and injuring people. If you are doing handheld from the passenger seat, you should check whether the car has a passenger air bag. If it does, find out how to deactivate it. If for any reason the airbag was to deploy, it's going to expand at 200mph and smash your camera into your head. It may be a small risk, but ask yourself if it's worth taking.

 

Poor Man's Process can look great, but you will need to use some interactive lighting, or maybe just grip work with flags to simulate light and shade. Ultimately, whether it works or not will be down to the quality of the plates and compositing.

 

If there are any shots, like inserts, where you can't see out of the windows, you should do them with the car stationary.

 

Actors are just like any other people. Some are good drivers, some are not. Acting as well as driving can be a big distraction for some. 

 

If I'm shooting on a sunny day, I always try to keep the sun behind the car if I can, or at least from the side opposite camera. You don't want it coming straight at the actors through the windshield, or from behind camera.


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#3 Giacomo Girolamo

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Posted 27 December 2017 - 03:43 PM

Thanks a lot for your input. I don't even think about the safety issues you address (I thought about others, though) so that was really helpful. Thanks for the tips in lighting as well.

Maybe what happens with the poor man's process is insecurity because I never done it. And maybe because It's going to depend of the works of somebody else (a CGI guy which we don't have yet) so I'm afraid that even if the shots are good, the screw up in post.

 

 

Ps. There's two insert shots, one at the radio and another in the rearview mirror, shotting the eyes and later the mouth (because she move the mirror) of the talent. And yes, I'm planning to do all this shot stationary.


Edited by Giacomo Girolamo, 27 December 2017 - 03:45 PM.

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#4 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 27 December 2017 - 06:56 PM

Poor mans process is a much easier sell if it's a night-time driving scene.  In addition to the safety benefits, you also benefit greatly from not having the audio of a moving car or trailer, truck and road noises.

 

There are things you can do in post to sell the effect.  Such as adding in reflective transparent foreground plate footage on the windows that are closest to camera.  Assuming the windows need to be closed.  Such as when it's too seasonally cold for them to be logically open.  When you shoot plates, try to shoot something for that side that'll work as well.

 

Small details like that really help.  As does the movement of the sunlight which reflects off lots of elements in the surroundings.  Unless you're trying to sell a very obviously overcast even look.

 

Wonderboys has some okay and some awful poor mans process stuff in it to check out.   Tom Richmond did a great job of it in both Waking the Dead and Killing Zoe.  Two fairly low budget but great looking films.


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#5 Giacomo Girolamo

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Posted 27 December 2017 - 09:23 PM

Poor mans process is a much easier sell if it's a night-time driving scene.  In addition to the safety benefits, you also benefit greatly from not having the audio of a moving car or trailer, truck and road noises.

 

There are things you can do in post to sell the effect.  Such as adding in reflective transparent foreground plate footage on the windows that are closest to camera.  Assuming the windows need to be closed.  Such as when it's too seasonally cold for them to be logically open.  When you shoot plates, try to shoot something for that side that'll work as well.

 

Small details like that really help.  As does the movement of the sunlight which reflects off lots of elements in the surroundings.  Unless you're trying to sell a very obviously overcast even look.

 

Wonderboys has some okay and some awful poor mans process stuff in it to check out.   Tom Richmond did a great job of it in both Waking the Dead and Killing Zoe.  Two fairly low budget but great looking films.

 

Thanks for the useful  ideas. The scene has to be in the day, around evening, because plot purpose.


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#6 Bruce Greene

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Posted 28 December 2017 - 03:37 PM

It does not seem safe to shoot this scene with driving actors .

But it should be easy to shoot with chroma key and a stationary car. I would advise to shoot indoors or at night outside . You'll be able to create the late day lighting easily and keep it consistent for hours. Of course you'll need to shoot background plates at the correct time of day.

In post, add shaking to the shot to give it some life and realism. I did this on my last picture and no one will know we were not driving when they see the film.

I can say from past experience that if the driver is acting, they are NOT driving, even if they think they are!
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#7 Bruce Greene

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Posted 28 December 2017 - 03:39 PM

And don't forget to shoot plates for reflections on the car windows. That really helps sell the shot
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#8 Giacomo Girolamo

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Posted 28 December 2017 - 04:20 PM


In post, add shaking to the shot to give it some life and realism. I did this on my last picture and no one will know we were not driving when they see the film.

I can say from past experience that if the driver is acting, they are NOT driving, even if they think they are!

 

 

Thanks for sharing your experience!
Do you have some vids or stills about the car scene you talk about it?


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#9 Bruce Greene

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Posted 28 December 2017 - 04:57 PM

 

 

Thanks for sharing your experience!
Do you have some vids or stills about the car scene you talk about it?

Password: greenscreen

 

These sequences work best with the audio track, but since the film is not yet released, I can't include it.


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#10 Giacomo Girolamo

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Posted 28 December 2017 - 05:30 PM

Password: greenscreen

 

These sequences work best with the audio track, but since the film is not yet released, I can't include it.

 

 

Thank you, the footage really looks great! Hope to see the final movie when it's out.


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#11 Bruce Greene

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Posted 28 December 2017 - 09:19 PM

 

 

Thank you, the footage really looks great! Hope to see the final movie when it's out.

Thanks Giacomo, though I'm not sure this film will play in Italy...


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