Shooting a Car Scene? Here Are 6 Basic Shots You Should Know About

You'll want to add these shots to your cinematographic repertoire if you're going to be filming a car scene.

A car is a challenging environment to shoot in—especially when it's moving. If you're finding it difficult to figure out how to approach capturing a scene inside what is basically a tiny mobile set, DP Julia Swain, who previously showed us how to light car scenes, names 6 essential shots in this video from Aputure.

Video is no longer available:

Here are the shots Swain talks about:

  • Front windshield
  • Over the shoulder
  • Close up passenger POV
  • Back seat (French over)
  • Rear view mirror shot
  • Side mirror shot

A lot of these shots aren't unique to car scenes, but the fact that they are shot within the tight space of a vehicle means that a little bit of reworking must be done to pull them off successfully. Along those same lines, Swain including her approach to following the 180-degree rule is extremely helpful considering the fact that it can often get a little complicated and disorienting to locate where the line of action is inside of a car.

Since a car interior is a severely limited space, there are a limited number of shots that can be captured within it. However, Swain offers a handful of basic techniques you can use to get the coverage you need. Beyond that, though, you can get creative with the way you shoot—granted, there are only so many places to put your subjects and your camera, but the more you play around, the more possibilities you'll find. (Just ask Chivo Lubezki who broke our brains with the famous car scene in Children of Men.)

Do you have any tips/tricks for shooting car scenes? Let us know down in the comments!     

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Your Comment


Posting a blog article? Here's why your title should start with a question.

August 14, 2016 at 4:52PM, Edited August 14, 4:52PM


A DP posting about generic shots. 1 basic reason why she should never get hired.

August 14, 2016 at 6:23PM, Edited August 14, 6:23PM

Martin Brewer
Director, DOP

What would be the problem with a DP posting about generic shots? Everybody should have been born knowing all about them?

Actually your comment sounds like a reason why nobody should hire you. Negative, insulting, unprofessional, and all with zero content of actual critique to offer.

August 14, 2016 at 9:12PM, Edited August 14, 9:12PM


I agree! I think it's important to understand and be good at the "generic" standard type of shot before getting creative with it. you need a place of understanding to come from

August 15, 2016 at 7:51AM, Edited August 15, 7:51AM


sometimes in LIFE you gotta cross the line

August 14, 2016 at 10:16PM


My favourite car scenes would have to be from Thelma and Louise.
I love the choice of shots, all are carefully selected to heighten the emotion of the scene and move the story forward. A great example of this is the final scene.

August 15, 2016 at 3:12PM

Ray Frisby

hi do you have some advice how to "paste" a dslr outside the car window/hood on the budget? thx

September 6, 2016 at 1:01AM, Edited September 6, 1:01AM


And For Audio? 10x

September 9, 2016 at 8:50AM