Shooting a car accident

I am writing a story right now that I will be producing myself, and at a somewhat pivotal moment in my outline a car is run off the road. It doesn't have to be an over-the-top, Fast and Furious type crash, but it needs to look intense enough that the passengers are convincingly shaken up.

Before I commit to this story element, I want to shop it around a bit. Has anybody here shot a low-budget car crash? Did you use a stunt driver? If so, what kind of money did you spend on the driver, insurance, outfitting for the car (if any)? This is all new to me so I'm interested in any and all words of advice.
 
Avoid the stunt. I did a car crash in my short, and used a combination of techniques:

- Drove the cars slow (3MPH) and retimed the shot (using o-flow) to play much faster. We were careful that everything in the shot moved really smooth & slow so it didn't look out of scale after the retime.
- Interior shots with green screen - The exterior plates were retimed to look faster.
- Lots of camera shake.
- Closeup reaction shots.
- Racing to the impact point: Shot it in reverse, and retimed faster.
- CG car for one shot where the car goes airborne.
- Miniature elements.
- Fast cutting.
- Sound, sound, sound .... sells everything.

Did the effect sell? It worked well enough that every single person who has seen it (many of which work in VFX), asked how I did it.
 
This is all new to me so I'm interested in any and all words of advice.

Best words of advice: Don't even attempt it! There are obvious potential dangers to your cast and crew in getting shots like this. So, you don't even want someone who is not new to this, who can avoid the obvious dangers, you need someone who is so experienced that they can not only avoid the obvious dangers but eliminate/minimise the not so obvious and even unpredictable dangers!

Alternatively, you can avoid all the potential dangers (obvious or not) by not actually doing the stunt in the first place. Either eliminate it from your script or fake it convincingly as _Rok_ suggested.

G
 
All good advice, thanks - I wouldn't dare try to attempt the stunt myself but it sounds like even hiring a stunt driver would be well over my head. I may consider writing the scene at night and using quick cuts to fake it.
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
indiePRO
I have. We didn't hire a stunt driver. We didn't get insurance and we didn't
outfit the car. On a low, low budget I've shot four car chases/accidents. But
there are different types of car crashes. A “run off the road” where the
“passengers are convincingly shaken up” can be simple. What do YOU mean
by “run off the road”? One car passes too close causing the other one to hit
the shoulder with two wheels? One car hits the other car forcing the other
one completely off the road? City street? Rural road?

_Rok_ offered excellent suggestions. There are many ways to show a car
run off the road.
 
A “run off the road” where the
“passengers are convincingly shaken up” can be simple. What do YOU mean
by “run off the road”?
One character's car sideswipes the other forcefully enough for the second car to spin out. I originally wrote it as taking place on a multi-lane highway at high speed, where the second car rolls down an embankment. I had mostly (but not fully) abandoned this idea by the time I posed the question here though, as I suspect that a stunt like this would be impossible with my budget.
 
Avoid the stunt. I did a car crash in my short, and used a combination of techniques:

- Drove the cars slow (3MPH) and retimed the shot (using o-flow) to play much faster. We were careful that everything in the shot moved really smooth & slow so it didn't look out of scale after the retime.
- Interior shots with green screen - The exterior plates were retimed to look faster.
- Lots of camera shake.
- Closeup reaction shots.
- Racing to the impact point: Shot it in reverse, and retimed faster.
- CG car for one shot where the car goes airborne.
- Miniature elements.
- Fast cutting.
- Sound, sound, sound .... sells everything.

Did the effect sell? It worked well enough that every single person who has seen it (many of which work in VFX), asked how I did it.

Would love to see that!
 
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