How Cars Are Strategically Weakened for Explosive Film and Television Crash Scenes

In an explosive piece for Movies Insider, narrator Abby Tang explores the work of JEM F/X, a special effects house in Southern California that strategically weakens cars for crash scenes in films and television.

We visited JEM FX to find out how its team of effects wizards primes cars to get destroyed spectacularly on camera.

Tang also describes how the team strategically scores different parts of the cars to create specific types of crash scenes. One car was then subjected to all sorts of abuse that comes with the job.

Taking a Buick LeSabre as our case study, JEM’s technicians showed us how they score a car’s roof pillars and replace its door hinges to set it up for optimal wreckage. Then we saw how the weakened car responded to various forms of destruction, from having a 3,000-pound weight dropped on its roof to getting its doors whacked off with a forklift.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.