Shooting Inside a Car – Do’s and Dont’s

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Confusions on how to shoot a video or a short film in a very confined space? Worried about setting up the angles, making a good presentation and doing the best with whatever is available in a confined space? Here’s how to efficiently make quality shots, angles and a film with whatever available inside a car.

We see people travelling in a car in a movie, which looks so beautifully shot with limited frames and shots available. But there flows a heavy budget in movies where CG is easily accessible to make the work easier for shooting travelling and moving car shots. But in case of short films, there is limited budget, limited availability of equipment and limited everything where CG can’t be put in. We might have a mountain of thoughts and to make it come through, a lot of effort is to be put in. So, how to bring out efficient shots in a car during day?

The points to be listed are based on my experiences in making my short film that is wholly based inside a car. The shoot was really fun and was sure a learning process.

To do’s

Make sure you take a car that is spacious to fit in the characters of the movie, the director and the cinematographer. When the space is limited than it has to be, the presentation has to be compromised.

Choose the place of shoot carefully so that the roads are not so ruined and has less traffic. Because when the shoot is smooth, you might experience traffic problems where the car has to halt, and bad road conditions where the car can’t go right on track.

Have a perfect planned timing of the shoot because places  you go might turn out to be a nightmare and you may face unexpected consequences.

Choose the actors of the movie genuinely and perfectly because not all actors can drive a car and act as well. The actors must be comfortable in having a ride as well as acting.

Have a fully prepared shot divisions for the script that has to happen inside the car so that you needn’t get confused on the spot. The spot is only for extra creativity.


Do not take in too many people to the set. Limited people in a car creates less chaos and gives better place to work. People inside the car must be the actors, the director, the cinematographer and not more than 1 assistant director. Less people help in a smooth shoot in a very confined space.

Do not take in so many lights inside of a car because light comes through the windshields of the car and this might patch the light inside.

Do not open the windows of cars during the shoot as it gives more bleach of light from outside than when it is closed. The bleach that comes while closed can be taken care in the edit table.

Framing and shots that can be used inside a car

I did not use a rig to set up shots for inside the car. Using rigs consumes a lot of time to let them go for the shot and dismantling it to see the playback. All the shots were from the interior of the car.

Shots that can be pulled off from inside the car are less. But this can be done good to a certain extent.

The frames and shots are usually set inside the car based on how may people are inside it. The most usual shot not minding the number of people inside is the first person view shot. If the people are less, different angles can be established from the space available to sit in the car. In my movie, there were two people front and so I used the whole of the back seats to pull out different angles.

On the fact that it is out using only the interior for angles, the camera can be set up near the gear shift, Interior space behind the front windshield, the back view mirror shot, the rear view mirror shot, of ready to risk, the wide from outside on the bonnet, the cameraman can rest on it while the car is very slowly driven and the scene is being acted. A skinny cinematographer can bring out many angles inside a car as he can settle himself in the smallest of space available.

Actors must be cooperative while shooting inside a moving car. The driver especially, if he has to perform a lot more, his skills must be checked. This is because acting a scene while driving a car on real roads is not a easy piece of cake. A lot of care and dedication has to be put in.

So, perfectly planned shot divisions, innovative angles, less crowd, good actors and of course a good script will surely give a better output, just inside a car alone.

Happy shoot !


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