Independant Filmmaker in Need of a Police Car and a Suspect Identification Room: How? at

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Old February 10th, 2005, 05:00 PM   #1
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Independant Filmmaker in Need of a Police Car and a Suspect Identification Room: How?


I'm going to shoot a police/crime- related film this summer, and I will need two things that may be potentially hard to get:

a) A Police Car
b) A Suspect Identification Room

By "suspect identification room," I mean one of those rooms with a wall in between with a one-way mirror for the victim to observe a lineup of potential suspects and pick one out by visual identification. I could possibly ask the police department about using these things, but I don't know what their reaction will be- this movie isn't exactly "cop-friendly." Not to say that I don't like the police, but a few of them die in the film. I don't know how this would be reacted to if I brought this up. It never hurts to try, though.



Corey C.
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Old February 10th, 2005, 05:25 PM   #2
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If you are in the USA, the cop car can be equipped with snow plow flashing lights. They're legal and blue in Canada and since your police vehicles use blue lights, strap em to an old crown vic and you're all set. Grote makes such units. Unless it's current day, then your budget will need to be bigger for an Impala.

For the suspect room, find an outdated industrial strip mall that has a unit for rent. These circa 1950 - 1960's offices had ridiculous entranceways with a cubicle you had to wait in until the receptionist noticed you. That might be a suitable location. You would need a cute deal with the owner to get if for only a few days. And bring your certificate of business liability otherwise you might have difficulty.

For both locations, you will have to stage a set. To expect the local constabulary to allow this would be a stretch.
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Old February 10th, 2005, 06:00 PM   #3
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b) A Suspect Identification Room

See if your local college/university psychology or education departments have rooms with one way mirrors for research. Call the department chairs and ask.
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Old February 10th, 2005, 09:01 PM   #4
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The one-way mirror window does not really have to exist. Find a room with a big window between the rooms and use that. Window can be small, does not have ot be size of entire wall. All you need is a hole to look thru right? Inner city or doctor office reception rooms come to mind, where receptionist sits in a different room behind a sliding glass window.

Pick your angles and you are done. If you really feel a need to show the mirror side of the wall, a regular wall mirror and some careful camera angles could make it work.
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Old February 10th, 2005, 09:10 PM   #5
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Ask your local police station before you start going ghetto. The odds are good that they'll say yes.
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Old February 11th, 2005, 06:11 AM   #6
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Here in New Jersey, there is a company that specializes in renting vehicles like this for Movies. Check in your state to see if you have the same.
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Old February 16th, 2005, 09:36 PM   #7
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For the interogation room:

1. IF YOU HAVE A LOCATION THAT HAS TWO ROOMS DIVIDED BY A LARGE WINDOW: Pull all the furniture out of both and put just a table, two chairs, and an overhead light in the interrogation room. Leave the lights off in the viewing room. Show one brief establishing shot of the room putting the "mirror" to one side--perhaps adhering reflective material to the back of the glass and making sure to get some strong light reflections in the glass to obscure any imperfections in the reflective material on the back of the glass. Done'll have planted the idea in viewer's heads that this is an interrogation room. You wouldn't have to show the mirror again. Just turn the two subjects sideways to the "mirror" using over the shoulder shots to avoid showing the mirror. And for views from the viewing room, just remove the reflective backing, turn off the lights in that room and shoot looking into the interrogation room.

2. IF YOU ONLY HAVE ONE ROOM: Find any large mirror, set it up on one wall and do the same "one table/two chairs" set up. After all those shots are done, set up your "viewing room" by making a false wall with cardboard or any material (since it will be dark--paint it a dark color). Channel all light bleed coming from the interrogation room so that it ONLY comes through the "window" and not around the frame of the false wall. For the window itself, you can either use real glass, plastic, or even experiment with that stuff that you stretch over windows to insulate in winter, stretching it taught with a blow dryer.

For the police car:

Just a suggestion -- buy a "detective-style" slap on light and use plain clothes police and unmarked cars instead of uniformed officers.

If you have to have marked police cars and uniformed officers, just pull out the wallet.
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Old February 17th, 2005, 06:13 AM   #8
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If your movie is not cop-friendly, then chances are you are not going to get a department to give you a marked unit to be used in your film.

In our department, all requests like this go through the Media Relations Bureau where they read your script and asess whether or not to cooperate. If their is any chance that the department is going to be portrayed in a negative light, that's pretty much a deal breaker right there.

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Old February 17th, 2005, 06:30 AM   #9
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I would say renting a police officer uniform has to be a lot cheaper than renting a faux police car. You do a lot with having flashing lights in the background without actually showing the car.
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Old May 6th, 2005, 11:58 AM   #10
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I realize I'm coming in pretty late on this, but both the interrogation room can easily be faked in post with After Effects or even your NLE.

For the room, simply shoot it normally in a room with table and chairs, then composite in the mirror, using a reverse image for the reflection.

If you want to show the observation room from the reverse angle, it can be done pretty much the same way.

For the car, use a white or black sedan, composite in the appropriate logos and light bar, using motion tracking if necessary. This will work fine for brief shots, intercut with the normal car.

Just takes some thought and planning.
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Old May 19th, 2005, 02:22 AM   #11
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For the car, just call your local cops, tell them your a student filmmaker and ask for them to show up for an hour. for the room, not sure, try to use one of theirs. Most of the time in Dallas they'll help you out.
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Old May 19th, 2005, 03:41 AM   #12
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I think what Corey wants in the Usual Suspects poster line up type room rather than the interrogation room which I think most people are describing.

I think that all Corey really needs (if the cops turn him down, it's worth asking) is a wall with the height marks painted on it (or just black electrical tape and plastic cut out numbers) and just frame out the sides. The shoot the reaction shots of the cops and witnesses in a suitably dark and furnished room, and apply filters to the sound to suggets the intercom between the lineup area and the rest of the room. As Rob suggests if you want a reflection shoot the whole dark room and composite it on top of the suspects. Only the widest shots of the suspects would need such an effect. Leave the rest to the Kuleshov effect!

To be honest I don't think that the police are worried about films which say they get killed in the line of duty. As long as your film doesn't suggest they're corrupt/incompetent/racist/cowardly/whatever they'll probably be willing to consider helping you out.
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Old May 25th, 2005, 11:44 PM   #13
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What city are you in, I could no doubt locate more than one private owner of an unmarked police cruiser, who would be more than happy to let you use the car (or cars) for your shoot.

I collected different models of the police interceptor and currently own a late model unmarked police cruiser myself, it's been used in a segment / chase for one of the DIY network shows. You are welcome to use mine if you are not too far out of my area.


Or my (crappy) for sale video link

It has a working spot light, dark tinted windows, radio whips, black grill/trim,etc..
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Old June 11th, 2005, 02:29 PM   #14
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Sorry I didn't have time to totally read all the other if this has been said I apologize. For the suspect identification don't need any window at all. You can just take a shot of a blank wall (maybe with some sort of frame where the window would be), then a shot of the room that has the suspects in it( probably with a piece of glass with tiny smudges on it in front of the camera.).

In editing make a track with your blank wall in the top track, a beizer mask where the window is, and the suspect room as your bottom video track. That might work I think...

As long as your lighting kinda makes sense (fake some light leaking in from the suspect room into your blank wall shot) should seem fairly real.
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