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How to make a good chase scene?

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Created atJune 30, 2009
Created by(null)
ClosedJune 22, 2011
Shots given2
WreckupationsDirector, Writer, Cinemato- and photographer, Concept / Storyboard Artist

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mehmet ramadan running in the rain


One part of the story involves a villain being pursued by "the good guys" on foot through the pedestrian areas of a small city.

How can this kind of chase scene be done in an interesting way without having access to a large budget?

Can you think of examples of cheap, well-made chase scenes in films? Youtube clips of such scenes would be especially welcome if you can find any, just post a link in your reply.

(Note that there can't be any vehicles involved in this scene.)

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Johan Löfström July 03, 2009 20:41 0 Thumb-ups
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Chase shots

One cheap way to film is to borrow or rent wheel-chairs from a company or hospital. Sometimes you could borrow some things like this for a day or two, with just the promise of bringing a cake or buns for their afternoon coffee break :D but that's ruotsalainen for you :D

Or get some skateboards and tape the cameras on them,
with a string so you can drag the board and shoot sideways,
and if you want to film forward direction (and not show the legs of the cameraman) get a long stick, so you can push the skateboard.

bicycles could be used too, but then you need to construct and build the mounts and be sure the bike-rider don't fall and damage the lens or the camera

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mehmet ramadan July 01, 2009 17:42 2 Thumb-ups
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running in the rain

It could be fun to have the chase scene in the pouring rain. With the characters slipping and sliding through the streets. It could culminate in a mud wrestle.

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(null) July 02, 2009 17:43 Flag

"It dosen't matter what you decide to film it will always be a reqirement that you can show that you have taken the necessary safety steps to ensure the safety of everybody involved and the general public."

Sorry, yes, that's all I was trying to say. The question is, what would a court see as necessary steps in Parkour? I don't know, and I suspect there is no set answer because this is such an untested area (both Parkour and no-budget films involving Parkour).

mehmet ramadan July 02, 2009 17:31 Flag

I agree completely with what your saying. But you are making the same error as your suggesting. You only quoted half of what i said. I work in a factory. Lots of rules and regulations. Lots of safety guidelines and matching equipment. The reason the factory provides all of this is if there is an accident then the company can clearly show that all precautions have been taken to prevent its occurance. It dosen't matter what you decide to film it will always be a reqirement that you can show that you have taken the necessary safety steps to ensure the safety of everybody involved and the general public. But i do sympathise with what your saying. Im not suggesting that you should be reckless. My first thought was a bad guy that was able to change his appearance very quickly. So the good guys were chasing shadows until they finally trap him.

(null) July 02, 2009 16:30 Flag

"Maybe we should have a chase scene where nobody runs. In case they fall over. And make sure their wearing safety shoes and a helmet and some padding. Im not being flippant."


I totally agree. But what may be a problem is if people in authority are asked to judge a situation that they're not used to. If an injury happened, there's a chance that some legal process might get involved, and the law (as they say) can sometimes be an ass.

Everyone knows that people can trip when running, potentially killing themselves if they hit their head on something. AFAIK no one would be prosecuted if that happened during a film shoot, because we have all run at some point in our lives so we know that risk and take full responsibility for it. Unless there was something unexpectedly slippery on the ground, such a death would probably be seen as "just one of those things".

With Parkour it LOOKS like the people are taking huge risks, even if they aren't really, so an uninformed observer may think the law should demand compulsory safety wires, crash mats etc. If there was a legal case to do with a severe injury, an uninformed judge or jury might decide the whole sport of Parkour is a deathtrap which needs to be highly regulated.

Just to give a parallel, a lawyer for some of the victims of last month's Air France crash has been calling for all Airbuses to be grounded, just because of that one crash (which no one knows the cause of yet). That suggestion doesn't make any statistical or practical sense, it would just drive people onto forms of transportation with equal or worse safety records. If this had been an unexplained car crash I doubt the victims' lawyer would have called on the car's manufacturer to recall its vehicles.

mehmet ramadan July 02, 2009 15:25 Flag

I see what your saying. Maybe we should have a chase scene where nobody runs. In case they fall over. And make sure their wearing safety shoes and a helmet and some padding. Im not being flippant. The truth is that everything has a danger element.All you can do is ensure that all precautions are taken. You have to balance the danger with what your trying to film.

(null) July 02, 2009 15:07 Flag

I think you're absolutely right Mehmet, but the law doesn't always recognise degrees of risk (and even ignoring criminal law there's always the danger of a civil suit).

Also, there's the danger of people thinking they know how to do something when they don't, and failing to assess their risks properly. In the Bill's chase scene there was one seemingly-impossible jump which wasn't shown in full, so they probably had crashmats off camera for the jumper to land on. In real life, someone who attempted that particular jump without a mat might get injured.

mehmet ramadan July 02, 2009 14:46 Flag

On the face of it parkour does have clear inherent danger. But my son dosen't actually jump at any real height. The acrobatics is real and takes many hours of practice but in truth the places they jump are not very heigh. However, as with all physical sport there are possible injuries.

(null) July 02, 2009 13:48 Flag

Parkour... that's a very good idea! There might be some club we could contact...

Of course Parkour is potentially very dangerous so there would have to be a lot of thought put into it first. There may be some legal restrictions on this due to the risk of serious injury, anyone considering this for their film should look into their local country's laws before doing so.

In a documentary about the making of the Italian Job (not the remake but the 1969 original), the producer said that he was terrified because under Italian law if anyone died during a film shoot then the producer would be automatically charged with manslaughter!

Anyway, back to parkour... For those who don't know it, there's a long-running police series in the UK called The Bill, and they used a parkour champion to do a very effective chase scene indeed, much better than their usual stuff.

Although they're made by a mainstream TV network, there are lots of shots here that a low budget film-maker could use (not just the parkour but also the general use of an urban environment for a chase scene):

Here's an interview with him:

...and here's a parody of it featuring the same parkour champion also doing Harry Hill's stunts:

mehmet ramadan July 02, 2009 12:30 Flag

My son does Parkouring. You know where they jump around walls and stuff. They have a video on u tube called Concrete Motion. Its a zero budget film full of action. It could give you some good ideas.

(null) July 01, 2009 18:26 Flag

It would add a lot of drama, but could be very difficult to shoot on a low budget?