Angie Gaffney and Brittani Ward Take Us Behind the Scenes of Car Crashes Reel Chicago News

Angie Gaffney and Brittani Ward Take Us Behind the Scenes of Car Crashes Reel Chicago News

Chicago based manufacturer, Angie Gaffney and writer/director, Brittany Ward let us know what happens behind the scenes of making a movie Single-car accidents.

The film will premiere in Chicago at the Gene Siskel Film Center July 12-16.

Single-car accidents explores themes of enduring friendship and the possibilities that arise when one chooses to look forward rather than dwell on the past. Gaffney and Ward join forces with a talented Illinois crew and cast that includes Trevor Morgan, Billy Zane, Lindsey Morgan, Chris Lee, Paulina Olszynski, Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel, Billy DecAND Charin Alvarez.

The film’s plot revolves around Sean (Trevor Morgan), a once-promising baseball recruit haunted by survivor’s guilt after a tragic car accident that kills his best friend, Zach. Set in their small hometown, Sean struggles with his stagnant life and neglected responsibilities, including his young son, Zachary. The narrative takes a touching turn when Kendall (Lindsey Morgan), Zach’s sister and Sean’s first love, returns to town for her upcoming wedding, an event that forces Sean to confront unresolved grief and the impact it has had on his relationships and aspirations.

We had the opportunity to go behind the scenes with Angie Gaffney and Brittani Ward to learn about the making of the film. Single-car accidents.

You said the movie is based on a true story, Brittani. What inspired you to write that story?

(Black and white):Characters in Single-car accidents are fictional, but the story is inspired by true events. While attending high school in rural Illinois, I lost many of my young peers too soon – mostly in sudden car accidents. Early in my adult life, I experienced lingering regrets and the disruption of lifelong friendships, which are two of the film’s central themes.

Angie, you’ve explored grief in several of your films. What drew you to this story?

(General): Grief is a fundamental part of the human experience and exists on a huge gradient. I believe that when done well, most films will explore themes of grief and loss. Grief doesn’t exist without love, and that’s beautiful. In the case of Single Car Crashes, I was initially drawn to Brittani as a storyteller. We were both students at DePaul University at the same time, a few years apart, and I’ve always admired her intellect, leadership, and emotional stamina. I was fortunate enough to read an early draft of the script (many, many years ago) and I really enjoyed the characters and their emotional journeys. When we finally went into production, we were both mothers. I was two months postpartum with my first child while we were filming; I think we both had a new appreciation for all that is possible when you love deeply. As I entered motherhood, this story had a whole new impact on me. I feel so lucky to have helped her be born. (Yes, the birth metaphor is intentional—they’re not that different).

Can you tell us a little about the journey you took to get the film from page to screen? And Angie, what was it like working with Brittani, a first-time director?

(Black and white):This film would not exist without the craft and dedication of lead actor Trevor Morgan, director of photography Christopher Rejano, editor/post producer Ana Christian, colorist/post producer Ryan Stemple, Noisefloor, Katie Waters, Devin Delaney, costume designer Halley Sharp, music supervisor Melissa Chapman, Alex Wilson and Saró Melero Bonnin, Angie Gaffney (my amazing producing partner and friend), and many others.

(General): I’ve worked with a lot of first-time directors, and Brittani was incredible. Her previous experience casting in the industry gave her a natural style of communicating with actors, and she’s endlessly curious and willing to fail. Those last two traits are really some of the hallmarks of a great director: insatiable curiosity and enough self-esteem to handle obstacles gracefully. Plus, she’s funny, smarter than me in many ways, and has an unmatched work ethic. I look forward to working with her many more times, both as a director and producer.

Where were the main filming locations?

This film was shot entirely in Highwood, Illinois. We are proud that the vast majority of the money spent on this project went directly to the cast, crew, and suppliers in Illinois. Our locations were generously donated by the citizens and business owners of Highwood, and we are forever grateful to those who made this film possible.

What conclusions should viewers draw from this film?

(Black and white): Above all, I want everyone who watches Single-car accidents to feel seen. When a film does well with audiences, people leave the theater feeling an urgent need to connect more deeply with their loved ones. That’s the point. And no matter what holds you back, you always have the right to move forward, change course when necessary, and create the authentic life you want to live.

You recently had a screening at the Midwest Film Festival. Brittani, as a writer and first-time director, how did it feel when you first sat in a theater with an audience and watched your film?

(Black and white):Midwest Film Festival selected Single-car accidents at the Inaugural Roadshow Event in Milwaukee, in partnership with Milwaukee Film, at the stunning Oriental Theatre. It was one of the best days of my life. Before that, in March, we had our world premiere at Cinquest ’24 and won the “Best New Vision” award. When I first saw the film with an audience, I was blown away. Friends and strangers laughed at the jokes, cringed at the painful moments, and shed cleansing tears… all according to plan! “My baby will do just fine in the world without me,” I thought, “She’s playing the way I dreamed.”

The film will premiere in Chicago next week at the Gene Siskel Film Center. What’s next?

We’re signing a distribution deal that will lead to a digital release in the US later this year. Stay up to date by following @fivetwoonefilms on Instagram.

Viewers can see it Single-car accidents at the Gene Siskel Film Center on various dates:

Friday, July 12th at 8:00 PM
Saturday, July 13th at 5:30 PM
Sunday, July 14th at 2:30 PM
Tuesday, July 16, 8:30 p.m.

Each screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Brittani Ward and select cast and crew members, giving you the opportunity to connect first-hand with this compelling story and its creators.

Tickets can be purchased online here.


Written and directed by: Brittani Ward
Produced by Angie Gaffney, Brittani Ward
Executive Producers: Kelly Aisthorpe Waller, Ted Reilly, Markie Glassgow
Starring: Trevor Morgan, Lindsey Morgan, Paulina Olszynski, Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel, Chris Lee,
Billy Dec, Charin Alvarez and Billy Zane
Director of Photography: Christopher Rejano
Edited by: Ana Christian
Colorist: C. Ryan Stemple, CSI
Costume Designer: Halley Sharp
Set Designer: Stefanie Mitchell
Original soundtrack by Devin Delaney
Supervising Sound Editing: Katie Waters, MPSE
Musical supervision: Melissa Chapman, Annie Pearlman
Post-Production Producers: Ana Christian, C. Ryan Stemple

This article was brought to you for FREE. Support your #1 news source Chicago film, television and advertising productions by making a donation here.