A movie action resource for filmmakers.

Low Budget Car Chases – Part 2

There is a minute long car chase in my short film “Run Cholo Run” (starting around minute 4:00) that almost didn’t happen. When planning the eight page shoot, I couldn’t budget for extras like an exciting car chase in our tight four-day shoot. So, while I had searched out a cool neighborhood for a car chase, I was planning on settling for a couple shots to get us from the balcony location to the alley location.

But on Day 3 it started raining and we had to cancel Day 4. On no-budget shoots, once momentum is paused it is very difficult to get all the cast and crew back together. On one particular reshoot day I only had three cast members and two crew, and their vehicles. The only scene I could think of using these human resources was the car chase. So, for six hours, a limitation became a luxury.Image

I had previously scouted a street in East Los Angeles that matched our location in Koreatown and was adjacent to lots of interesting switchbacks and bridge underpasses, arriving at a side street that would match our alley location in Chatsworth (Note: at Point C we actually drive under the bridge onto Bernal Ave). This allowed for a strategy of repeating the same action over and over to capture enough angles for an exciting edit. And we didn’t have to break the speed limit (how could we in a construction zone?) because we could always drop frames in post and cut quickly between shots. My amazing DP Adam Genzink and I shot the sequence with two Panasonic HVX-200’s, and a GoPro for limited undercarriage shots. The reaction shots with the actors was shot on a different day, using low angles to hide the fact that we were driving different neighborhoods.

The decision to create a “24” look with several windows was an experiment. There was certainly enough footage to do a traditional cuts-only edit, but I needed to mask the transition from East L.A. to Koreatown where I was lacking some shots and my producer resisted my efforts to reshoot endlessly.

An interesting note on the score. My music supervisor Brian Bulman dropped in temp music from Man On Fire and it rocked. My composer Michael Patti created a great score, but it didn’t quite match the same energy. I couldn’t communicate the feeling that it wasn’t as exciting, but Brian instantly knew that the wrong kind of drum was used and Mike quickly modified the score to make it zing. One simple fix! Quite amazing for me to sit at the feet of such expertise and insight.

Happy car chasing!



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This entry was posted on May 9, 2013 by in Action Cinematography, Editing Action and tagged .


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