How the Makers of ‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die’ Pulled Off That One-of-a-Kind Shot

In the days after “Bad Boys: Ride or Die” opened to positive reviews and big box office, a behind-the-scenes video documenting the creation of the film’s most unique shot went viral on social media. The video shows how, in one unbroken take, star Will Smith performs some elaborate action choreography while also acting as his own camera operator, with a rig attached to his body that allows the perspective of the shot to shift between first-person and third-person depending on how Smith swings the camera around. In the actual movie the scene is even more impressive, as there’s a moment when Smith tosses his gun to costar Martin Lawrence and the camera seems to fly through the air to follow it, connecting the characters in one seamless shot.

Creating this shot took weeks of preparation and a special piece of technology, as directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, who are credited simply as Adil & Bilall on the film, told IndieWire. “Our cinematographer Robrecht Heyvaert came up with something called the SnorriCam, which he found on Instagram,” Adil said. The SnorriCam is a large, body-mounted rig that hadn’t been used in a Hollywood movie yet, which was in keeping with the directors’ desire to differentiate “Bad Boys: Ride or Die” from other action movies. “The ‘John Wick‘ and ‘Fast and Furious‘ movies are all fantastic, but we didn’t want to copy those movies,” Adil said. “We were thinking we wanted to make everything as funky as possible, so Robrecht roamed the internet to find interesting rigs that hadn’t been used much in mainstream movies.”

The Snorricam required extreme precision on the part of the actors, who had to not only remember their own blocking but swing the camera to catch whatever part of the action was necessary at any given moment. Adil and Bilall worked with the stunt coordinators, special effects department, grip team, and camera crew to work out the choreography over a couple of weeks, bringing in Smith and Lawrence’s doubles and, ultimately, the actors themselves to rehearse the shot. “It took a long time to train them,” Adil said. “There were practical effects exploding all around them, and they needed to hit very specific cues.” For the moment when Smith tosses Lawrence a gun, the gun was attached to the camera with a magnet that was then released via remote control when the camera-and-gun system reached Lawrence so that the pistol would be released from the mount and Lawrence could continue acting with the gun in his hand.

The complexity of the sequence made for a stressful day on set, as the crew rehearsed all day long to get it right — something that made the producers nervous as hours passed without any footage in the can. “The whole day we were rehearsing and then in the last hour it was like, we need to fucking shoot it,” Bilall said. “We eventually got it at the last minute.” The filmmakers had time to shoot four takes, and Bilall says they probably had it with the second but shot a couple more just for safety; he and Adil both credit Smith with going above and beyond the call of duty to make sure the sequence was what it needed to be. “That rig is really, really heavy, and no one else can do it but him,” Bilall concluded. “That’s what makes it special, that the actor is doing it. But it’s hard on the back, and we really pushed him. So thank you, Will.”

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