Devon DeLapp has posted an extremely handy guide detailing how to use the "Poor Man's Process" when shooting a scene featuring actors talking to each other in a car while driving at night. You independent filmmakers, budding directors, and veteran cinematographers will find this very useful.

When I first moved to Los Angeles, a friend of mine had started work on his own independent film. We tried for days to shoot scenes inside a moving car, and realized what a headache it is. You have to not only contend with the normal elements of filmmaking like the camera, the actors, and the lighting, but you also had to try and find a way to mount the camera on the car, locate a stretch of road you can use over and over, deal with traffic, think about gas, etc. It turned into such a headache for him that he ultimately decided to have the scene set next to a parked car, rather than in a moving one.

The genius of the solution on DeLapp's journal is in the extremely low-tech methods used to simulate effects in the scene: a light pointed at a rotating mirror for passing streetlights, lights mounted on wheels moved back and forth behind the picture car for traffic, Christmas tree lights in the background as the twinkling lights of the city in the distance. These are the kinds of things that once you have them explained to you, make you slap your forehead and say, "Well duh, of course." The only thing that will make this a true poor man's process, however, is if you aren't paying your crew. It takes roughly 20 people to pull this off properly, so call in some favors and get to work.

Check out his step-by-step instructions, along with the great illustration that he drew himself!
categories Movies, Cinematical