With the immense popularity of the Fast and Furious series and the rave reviews being received by the new Mad Max incarnation, the spotlight is once again firmly on fast cars in films and the roles they play in our enjoyment of the plot. While they’re rarely heralded as ‘thinking men’s films’, those featuring fast, exciting cars are among the most popular of their time. When they’re right, they’re really, really right – but what happens when mistakes are made during production? A simple blunder, such a visible boom mic or errant piece of technical equipment, has the potential ruin a whole scene, so it is essential to be aware of such pitfalls BEFORE you enter post-production.

The biggest car movie mistakes

There is a famous saying, ‘Never work with animals or children’, which refers to the unpredictability of such subjects. When it comes to creating a big budget film, though, it is important to be aware of far more than the four legged, or juvenile, members of your crew. After all, the more special effects you have, the more potential there is for something to go wrong. Fast cars are incredibly popular on the silver screen these days, with car chases and stunts particularly lucrative for production companies. It is essential, therefore, that these stunts be pulled off with aplomb – rather than bombing out of existence. One of the best ways to keep on the right side of filming a car scene is to learn from others’ mistakes; what are some of the most common?

  1. In 2001’s The Fast and the Furious, there is a rather revealing mistake just after Brian’s car explodes. The air cannon used to project the prop into the air is clearly visible. Mistakes such as these – dangling boom mics, crew reflections, and occasions when it’s more than a little obvious that a stunt double has been used – can be really damaging to a film’s integrity.
  2. Editing, or continuity, is so easy to get wrong – while being one of the most important things to get right. For example, if you need to reshoot a scene, it is important to know what someone was wearing the first time round, while also ensuring the actor is holding a particular item in the same hand. The Fast and the Furious (2001) is one such film that has fallen foul of continuity.
  3. If you’re going to shoot a car scene, you need to ensure you know how a car behaves – it’s completely implausible to have it acting one way when any viewer can tell that the scenario is highly unlikely. For example, in the film Taken (2008), at a point when Liam Neeson’s character hotwires a Volkswagen Golf, he doesn’t break the steering lock – an action that would make it impossible for him to then drive the car away. It’s important to know how your equipment works!

The importance of getting it right

You may think that the odd mistake could be forgiven; who’s going to notice a boom mic when they’re busy watching the action, after all? While you may be right, this attitude to filmmaking is a bad one – you should be striving to make everything the best it can be. Car fanatics such as Max Mosley, who will be particularly excited by such scenes, will be looking out for everything; from the way a car moves and reacts to the actor’s touch, to the number of times a car’s wheels move per second and the roar of the engine when its under duress – if there’s something amiss, you can bet they’ll notice.

Don’t you want to be responsible for providing them with an authentic experience, rather than filming something that’s anything but authentic? These days, car chases and scenes of these beauties in action are as much a part of the plot as the dialogue, and it is important that you get it right. Not convinced? We suggest you porder Max Mosley’s new book and familiarise yourself with what the experts think!

While a mistake or two when you’re filming a car scene is forgivable, it is always best to ensure that everything is right the first time – whenever you can. You see, those who love cars and know the most about them will be expecting an authentic experience, and you wouldn’t want to disappoint them… would you?

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