Have you ever wondered how the filmmakers get the driving shot(s) on a film or video? The filmmakers actually use equipment called a hostess tray (car side mount), and a hood mount for the front hood of the vehicle. I have had many opportunities working as a key grip on feature films, music videos, etc. to use car mounts and rig cameras on automobiles, motorcycles, and boats. The hostess tray works extremely well while getting a profile shot of the driver or passenger of the automobile. Filmmakers use the hood mount if you’re looking for frontal shots of your on-camera talent. It is recommended that you have an insert car or trailer while getting these shots. The automobile actually would be driven onto the insert trailer and strapped down for safety.
The insert car also allows the gaffer (lighting director) to add lights, ballast, with electrical cables, as well as giving the key grip the ability to add grip equipment on the trailer for purposes of molding the light. For safety reasons alone, the insert car is recommended. The insert car allows the actor to concentrate on acting, while leaving the driving to the professionals. A camera dolly can also be added to the platform while adding camera movement to the shot. All these tools basically help you get the most creative shots for the driving scenes. The larger insert cars have room in the back of the truck bed for purposes of adding a jib arm or camera crane to achieve higher shots over looking the car and having dramatic floating, booming shots to reveal the passengers in the vehicle.
The most important factor for the insert car is the driver. The driver is responsible for keeping the determined speed, changing lanes, and starting and stopping smoothly. It can become very dangerous without the proper procedures in place. It is also mandatory to have highway patrol with shooting areas locking down traffic for the production area. Safety is no accident. So, the next time you see a film with driving shots you can have an added appreciation for the process involved. Oh, and there’s one more thing, make sure your insurance is paid up!