I saw a movie about a year ago where there was a relatively simple shot of an SUV taking an off-ramp on a freeway. It only lasted a few seconds (5 - 10).

When they went to commercial, they had one of those DVD on TV or other clips where they show a Behind the Scenes of the making of the movie.

I was astounded to find that the shot was actually faked. Instead of having someone drive an SUV and have a camera in a helicopter (or, nowadays, a drone), they actually created a small scale replica of part of the city (similar to the pic below except simpler).

Not the movie in question

As far as I could tell, this was only used for this one shot.

Why would they do this? Is it really cheaper to have someone build all the miniatures or is it just easier to control? Or does the studio have a miniature department so might as well use it?

I don't think the actual movie matters, as the Behind the Scenes clip implied that this was normal - not extraordinary. That said, I think the movie had Julianne Moore and possibly Nick Cage (Next?).

  • 1
    It's probably easier/cheaper if you already have the miniature built from some other project... but without knowing the film you're talking about and the scene, it may be difficult to give a response to this specific case.
    – Catija
    Nov 9, 2015 at 20:23
  • 3
    If it's a heavily used bridge, it may be too expensive (or impossible) to get a permit to shut it down for filming.
    – Johnny
    Nov 9, 2015 at 20:57
  • 2
    Like most things in business, it's usually because it was cheaper or faster.
    – DA.
    Nov 9, 2015 at 20:58
  • Because it's illegal to use Drones for commercial filming in the US at this moment.
    – cde
    Nov 13, 2015 at 2:41

1 Answer 1


There can be multiple reason for such idea like :

  1. If they have a miniature ready from other project, it would be fast, cost effective and time saving.
  2. Shooting in real location is time bound as per permission and if anything went wrong like weather issue the shoot can be delayed.
  3. If they didn't like the shoot, they can change some portion or restart sequence from anywhere in miniature version. Also they have the same lights and effect until the shoot is finalized. In real shoot if retake is not perfect the whole day pass just to get exact shoot.
  4. They can have multiple angle shooting without helicopter (or, nowadays, a drone).
  5. Any kind of accident or incident cause in action scene in real life can cause life long injury or even death. So such scene shooting in miniature is more safe.
  • 2
    One slight expansion on 2. for for vehicle / road / city scenes - without faking it, often you'd have to close off a busy road or street, which is VERY expensive: the action itself may be cheap, but the real-life location isn't Nov 10, 2015 at 16:03
  • Late addition: weather control! On a set, you control the rain, snow, and lighting in ways that real-world shooting cannot do (as conveniently).
    – KlaymenDK
    Dec 5, 2018 at 9:13

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