Paul Haggis and Cathy Schulman

As if the logistics of making a sociopolitical indie film in multiple locations in Los Angeles with an all-star ensemble cast wasn’t headache enough, disaster struck the production of “Crash” when the film’s co-writer-director-producer Haggis suffered a heart attack four weeks into the shoot.

Schulman recalls: “It was serious. Suddenly I had to deal with insurance claims and a bond company, and I was being told that we had to replace the director. Paul said, ‘Not over my dead body, even if I do die.'”

Eventually, Haggis was able to finish the film under the supervision of his doctor, but it was a scheduling headache of epic proportions. “We lost Brendan Fraser, and Don Cheadle had to go to South Africa to shoot ‘Hotel Rwanda.’ It definitely was the hardest challenge I’ve ever had. It required all sorts of revised storytelling and additional months of work.”

Assembling the cast was “like a Rubik’s cube,” Schulman jokes, giving credit to co-producer Cheadle for encouraging other actors to sign on and work for much less than their regular fees. “He’s an actor magnet,” she says.

Another challenge was filming the pivotal connecting scenes in the film — nine separate car crashes — on a small budget. “We had no money to do this story,” says Schulman. “So all the crashes ended up being fender-benders. You never actually see any of the cars collide. It was one of the big challenges: how to show that from a technical aspect.”

Schulman recalls the actual shoot as being harmonious. “The obstacles came in terms of nobody wanting the film and the film shutting down numerous times. It was really against the odds getting it made.”

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