Sometimes a great shot can be attained through the wonders of visual effects — the fine folks at ILM can do just about anything with a computer these days. But there is a certain brutality, a certain aesthetic beauty that can only be achieved in the practical realm. Such is the scene in Zombieland when Columbus, the character played by Jesse Eisenberg, explains survival rule #4: “seatbelts.” In the accompanying scene, we see an overweight soccer mom being chased by several zombie kids in her minivan. Upon crashing into a truck, this pink-sweatered lady is hurled out of her windshield, landing on the pavement right in front of the camera and sliding a few feet before she comes to rest right in front of the audience. It is one of the many awesome, fun and gruesome scenes that make Zombieland such a fun ride.
Over at The Envelope, stunt coordinator Jill Brown writes about the process of bringing this shot to life, including the hiring of stunt woman Samantha MacIvor, a brave soul with a can-do attitude. Here’s an excerpt:
Problems arose when we couldn’t stick a hefty girl behind a wheel and fly her out safely. We’ll need to lose the roof, steering wheel and front seat. Bring in the power saw.
The next challenge was Samantha’s traveling trajectory. Since we had to fly her over the hood of her car and the flatbed truck, then down to the pavement and slide her 20-something feet toward the camera, George [Aguilar, second unit director] suggested the most accurate approach would be to incorporate a computer-controlled cable system. Bring in the Fisher Winches.
There is also a photo gallery at The Envelope that shows the progression of the shot.
As I mentioned, it is an awesome scene that came together in part because of a dedication to doing something practically, rather than just trying to throw it in digitally after the fact. All the more reason for you to get out there and check out Zombieland, which is still hanging around in theaters. For more on the film, check out our Exclusive Interview with writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick and Brian Salisbury’s Zombieland review from Fantastic Fest.