The car chase scene has been a staple of Hollywood filmmaking for decades.
Often, the chase scene is the climax of the movie, and it’s used to build suspense as the audience waits to see whether the protagonist will escape from their pursuers.
There are even some flicks out there that have no plot — just one long car chase scene with little dialogue or character development.
In screenwriting, we call it the “Car Chase Scene.” You know, the one where the hero jumps into their car and pursues the villain’s getaway vehicle as mayhem ensues.
Suspense is at its height in a car chase scene because your hero (and audience) are in danger.
Car chase scenes are one of the most popular action scenes in films, but they are very difficult to film.
In this guide, you’ll learn how to write a car chase scene using three elements:
What Are car chase scenes?
What Are car chase scenes?
The car chase is a staple of action movies. It’s a time-honored cinematic tradition to put characters in fast cars, have them drive recklessly, and crash into everything in sight.
In the age of CGI, car chases are even more spectacular, but they aren’t always better. In fact, some of the best car chases were done before the advent of computer graphics.
Car chase scenes are exciting action sequences in which the protagonist is being pursued by the antagonist (or vice versa) in a moving vehicle.
These scenes usually involve reckless driving, daring stunts, and involve a lot of tension between the chasers and chasees.
When you think about it, many of the factors that make a good action-adventure film also make a good car chase scene. The more high-speed stunts and explosions are involved, the better.
The vehicles are often destroyed during the course of the scene, and this destruction excites viewers who want to see how much further they can be pushed before they’re completely totaled.
Finally, there should be a high level of tension as viewers wait to see whether the driver will get away or get caught by their pursuers.
How To Write A Car Chase In A Screenplay
You want to show your hero risking his/her life as they race against time to stop the villain from escaping.
A car chase scene is an integral part of most action movies.
It adds a sense of urgency to the plot and provides a much-needed burst of adrenaline for the viewer.
The car chase is a staple of the action film. It’s an opportunity for action and stunts, but also a chance to engage in a little character work as well.
Tension and humor are often found in these scenes, as well as some great dialogue, so let’s take a look at how you can write your own engaging car chase scene.
Examples Of Car Chases In Screenplays
What do you think of when you hear the word “car chase”? Do you get visions of James Bond jumping over small buildings in his Aston Martin?
Do you see a maniacal villain behind the wheel of a Dodge Challenger doing doughnuts in an old parking lot?
Or, do you envision a fast-paced action sequence with cops and robbers weaving in and out of traffic, narrowly missing pedestrians? Truly, car chases have been a staple in action movies for decades.
Don’t believe me? Grab a copy of YouTube clips from some of your favorite movies like Bullitt, The Blues Brothers, Ronin, The French Connection, or any other action flick that comes to mind. You will be astounded at how often these car chases are used to heighten the intensity of an action scene.
Did I mention that they are also fun to watch? Car chases are notorious for being expensive and dangerous to film, but why is it that filmmakers use them so frequently?
For starters, they add realism to the story by showing what would actually happen if this situation were to occur in real life.
Not only that, but they also provide an opportunity for characters to show off their personalities through their driving skills or lack thereof.
Baby Driver Car Chases
Baby Driver is a movie that follows the story of a young man named Baby. It’s his job to get criminals from A to B and back again, in exchange for getting out of jail.
The film stars Kevin Spacey and Jon Bernthal, along with Ansel Elgort, who plays the role of Baby.
Ansel Elgort is known for his roles in other films such as The Fault In Our Stars, Insurgent and The Divergent Series. He was nominated for best lead actor at the MTV Movie Awards.
Kevin Spacey is an American actor who has starred in over 50 different movies and TV shows throughout his career. He has won numerous awards including Academy Awards, Golden Globes and Emmys.
In Baby Driver he plays Doc, a criminal mastermind who works alongside Baby.
Jon Bernthal recently starred in The Punisher series on Netflix earlier this year as Frank Castle. He has also appeared in numerous movies such as Fury and The Wolf Of Wall Street.
The film was directed by Edgar Wright who has directed many popular movies including Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim Vs The World. He has received awards for his work including a BAFTA award for best original screenplay for Scott Pilgrim Vs The World.
Mad Max: Fury Road Car Chases
The best car chases in movies are the ones that seem the most dangerous, despite being done on a sound stage. When you realize that everything is being meticulously planned and choreographed, it takes away some of the excitement.
The chase sequence in Mad Max: Fury Road is one of the most thrilling sequences ever filmed, and it’s all real. The cars really are moving at high speeds, sometimes as fast as 120 mph.
The road really is rough and narrow. And yes, those are real explosions going off in the background.
Writing A Car Chase Film Scene
Let’s suppose you’re writing a car chase scene for your screenplay, and you want to make it as tense and exciting as possible. When I worked in the film industry, my boss used to say that a good car chase scene is like a roller coaster ride at an amusement park.
If the viewer doesn’t come away with the feeling of having squeezed their heart through their ribcage, he wasn’t satisfied. First, let’s consider the elements of a car chase scene.
The most obvious one is, of course, the cars themselves. In our example, we’ll imagine that they’re going 100 miles per hour on a highway in heavy traffic. Next, we have the road itself — a highway or a major city street?
How many lanes are there? Where are the dividing lines? How wide are they? Are there any obstacles along the way (oncoming traffic, pedestrians crossing the street, etc.)?
What sort of weather is it outside? Is it sunny or rainy? Is there fog or smog? This can affect visibility — and lighting.
Next there’s the music that plays during the scene. It has to be appropriate for what’s going on in the story. There should be some sort of rhythm established by the melody line.
Writing A Car Chase TV Scene
The other day I was watching one of my favourite TV shows, The Blacklist, and I noticed something that bugged me. The episode was about a guy who steals a car, and in the very next scene, he is involved in a car chase with the police. It didn’t ring true to me.
In their moment of triumph over their adversary, the cops would not be so stupid as to go after him. So why do they?
I’ve been thinking about it for some time now, and here are some guidelines that I think work pretty well:
Don’t let your protagonist be the only person who knows what’s going on. Eg if someone was kidnapped, it’s unlikely they’d be able to call the police (whoever took them could trace the call) and say “Hey, I’ve been kidnapped.”
If your protagonist does know what’s going on and does call the police, have a good reason for them NOT to tell them exactly where they are calling from. Eg if they’re calling from a public phone booth or from inside their house, then have them say “I’m at such-and-such street corner” or “I’m inside my house”.
Rules For Describing A Car Crash In A Script
When writing a script, there is an element that can be especially hard to get right: describing a car crash.
There are several rules that must be adhered to in order to properly describe a car crash in a script. There are countless details and aspects that are needed in order to get it right, and here they are:
Rule 1 – Focus on the visual details
The first rule of car crash description, focus on the visual details of the event. Avoid using abstract concepts such as “the car swerved” or “he hit his head.
Instead, focus on what happened to the physical body of the vehicle involved. Was it crushed? Was there visible damage? Were any parts of the vehicle scattered about?
The more specific you can be with these details, the better. This will help your reader envision exactly what you’re trying to convey.
Rule 2 – Avoid clichés
Clichés are very easy to slip into when you’re writing a script because they are quick and easy ways of describing something. However, this should be avoided at all costs.
Clichéd descriptions can make your work seem amateurish and unprofessional, so avoid them if you want your work taken seriously.
How To Describe The Sound Of A Car Crash
The sound of a car crash is a loud, jarring noise that reverberates throughout the accident site. It is a very distinctive sound and is unforgettable to anyone who hears it.
A car crash’s sound can be a blaring horn honking, screeching tires and crunching metal; or it can be the thud of a major collision without any other sounds at all. The sound of a car crash can be so bad that it rips through the interior of a vehicle, scaring the driver and passengers.
Trying to describe the sound of a car crash can be difficult because it is so distinct. A person’s description of the sound will likely be based on their own personal experiences with accidents.
The various sounds associated with an accident are usually caused by different aspects of the wreck.
For example, when one car hits another from behind, the sudden stop causes both cars to skid forward until they finally come to an abrupt halt. The scraping and grinding sounds heard during this accident are most often caused by the friction between the two vehicles’ tires and bumpers.
The impact forces in these collisions also cause airbags to deploy, which explode with a bang when they burst outwards in order to protect passengers from injury.
Example Of A Car Crash In A Screenplay
A car crash is a dramatic event that can take place in any movie, but when it happens, it can be one of the most awe-inspiring scenes to watch.
When it comes to writing a good screenplay, the first thing any aspiring author should do is decide on a story. This story can be about anything, but it should have an interesting twist or a unique theme that will set it apart from other scripts.
The next step is for the writer to determine what type of story he/she is telling. For example, if he/she wants to write about two sisters who are always fighting with each other, then he/she should take out all the action and put in more dialogue between the two characters.
If the writer would like this script to be more of an action movie then he/she should add some more action scenes in there (car crashes work great). Once this has been done, the writer needs to start writing down what they want their characters to say during their conversations in order to keep the scene interesting.
A Brief History Of Car Chases In Cinema
In honor of the upcoming release of Furious 7, we’ve compiled a brief history of car chases through cinema. The first car chase was filmed by Arthur Norman in 1898, which was a race between two vehicles on a beach in California.
In 1903, the first stunt car chase was performed by J. Frank Duryea and filmed by Thomas Edison. The stunt involved two cars racing towards each other to see who could stop faster.
In 1910, the first movie that combined cars and action was filmed by D.W. Griffith for his movie “At-Lass”. The film had a scene where people were riding in an automobile when a horse-drawn carriage crashed into it from behind and knocked it off a cliff.
The car caught on fire as it fell down the cliff and exploded when it hit the bottom of the cliff. This is also considered to be one of the first car crashes ever filmed in cinema history.