For those of you out there who missed out on film school, don't worry! In this week's blog, we're going to
share with you one of the film secrets that the industry uses all the time: "Poor Man's Process."
Because it's very difficult and costly to shut down traffic at night on a public New York City street, this
commonly used trick was created to shoot a night car scene.
First, find an empty lot, like a garage. Then, black everything out completely. Turn the lights off, and put
black masking on the walls and ceiling to make it completely dark. Remove the windshield of the car and
place the camera there instead. The next part is the particularly cool bit: grab a bunch of lights and get the
lighting folk up onto ladders. With a cool choreography, the lights flash back and forth and give the
illusion of other cars going by on the road. You can even use a couple of lights behind the car to make it
look like the headlights of a vehicle behind it. Make sure you shake the camera around a little to make it
look like a slightly bumpy ride and, of course, get the actor "driving" to turn the steering wheel every once
in a while. And voila, as the brothers Lumiere would say! It's simple enough, and it looks completely real.
Now, when you go to the movies or turn on your TV, try to spot the driving scenes that were filmed using
"Poor Man's Process."
The video below features an occasion in which we used "Poor Man's Process" on this season of "Law and
Order: SVU." Enjoy!