Breakin' 2 Interview with director Sam Firstenberg
How did you get involved in directing Breakin’ 2?
At the time I just finished
the Ninja series for Cannon
Films and they offered me to direct this film.
Breakin’ 2 seems very different
than the other movies
you’ve directed (American Ninja, Cyborg Cop, Cyborg
Soldier). Do you have a preference
in the type of films you direct?
I general I like all sorts of movies, but action movies and dance movies have a lot
in common. Aside from
dialogue scenes there is the creation of action, which are not verbal but rather purely cinematic
Regretfully there are not a lot of musical and dance movies made, but my work ranges from action to sc-if
horror, as well as to comedy and to dance.
What was your favorite film that you’ve directed and why?
movie has a corner in my heart - but among my favorites are American Ninja, Avenging Force, and of course Breakin' 2 because
it gave me the opportunity to be surrounded with music, dancers, and happy and talented people.
What did directing
this film teach you about break dancing and the whole hip hop culture?
That there are certain things you should not
try at home!! But seriously, despite the fact that hip hop was embraced by only a certain segment of the population, the people
involved were very excited, optimistic, and there was a lot of energy surrounding this movement.
Did any of the actors
teach you any break dance moves?
Yes, they tried hard.... but to no avail! I do not have the talent for these moves.
They did, however, give me a "street name" as was customary in the hip hop movement --- Sam the Sham!
It seems that
both Breakin’ and Breakin’ 2 – Electric Boogaloo both have the same theme making break dancing accepted
as a valuable form of dance to those outsides the breakin’/hip hop culture. Is that what these films were trying to
accomplish as well?
I believe that this was definitely the mission of Shabadoo, the most prominent among the break-dancers
on the set. We, as filmmakers were only trying to provide good entertainment.
How do you think the Breakin’ films
influenced the break dancing culture?
It helped to spread the popularity, especially among the very young.
was only two years old when Breakin’ 2 came out in theatres, so of course I don’t remember this. Could you tell
me what the reaction was to this film when it came into theatres?
First, I think the movie was at the height of the
breakdance era. The first movie to come out was Breakin’ and then a movie called Beat Street, but “Breakin’2-Electric
Boogaloo” topped them all and became a national and worldwide immediate hit with the young audience. It was 1985 and
even today, I still get fan mail from people who say that this movie influenced them as teenagers. I have been told that on
e-bay original posters and laser discs go for about $200- $300 apiece! It became an icon of the 1980’s.
do you think about Breakin’ 2 – Electric Boogaloo being so popular that it’s now been released on DVD, even
before Breakin’ 1 was released on DVD?
I think it speaks to the popularity of this movie, and it gives me a lot
of satisfaction that a film with a lot of positive energy still entertains.
I think it’s fair to say that Breakin’
2 has really had quite a cult following. Does this surprise you? Did you ever think this would be the case when you were making
When making the film we had no idea that ten years later people would say that this movie changed their lives!
So yes, it really did surprise me because this sort of thing only happens with a handful of movies. It is amazing that as
the years go by, it is getting bigger and bigger.
Break dancing, and the whole 80’s culture has definitely been
making a revival recently. If offered the script, would you ever consider directing Breakin’3?
I would be delighted
to be involved in such a positive project. I think it would actually be a great idea.
Do you still keep in contact
with any of the actors? If so, where are they now and what are they up to?
Occasionally I hear from the actors. Lucinda
Dickey is a mother of two and "Shabadoo" is involved in a lot of dance and film projects. They both have websites so readers
can visit and learn more. I do not know the whereabouts of "Shrimp."
Do you have any funny stories you could tell us
of things that happened behind the scenes or offset?
The dinner scene in Kelly's parents' house was shot in a mansion
that once belonged to Mary Pickford, in a very nice LA neighborhood. Since the movie always had a following of groupies hanging
around the set, there were a lot of people standing outside the house. Rumors started to circulate that Muhammad Ali was living
next door to the set. Indeed, around 11 AM, drawn by the general commotion, out comes Muhammad Ali to everybody's delight.
He stayed to eat lunch with us, walked around and spoke with all the kids, and was a really good sport.
was that I got a citation from the Labor Department and the police. One day while shooting a wide shot of all the dancers
coming down the street during the first big street dance number, a bunch of kids on bicycles came to me and asked if they
could be in the scene. Unaware of all sorts of labor and traffic regulations, I sent the group of kids to ride their bikes
with our dancers. When the scene was over I was approached by a
police officer and another official, apparently from the
Department of Labor, and both informed me that I had violated a lot laws regarding traffic and youth employment. Luckily,
since it was the first time, both gave me only a warning, but that if I did it again I would be off the picture and perhaps
have to face a judge.
The sequel is extremely different than the first Breakin’ movie. Electric Boogaloo is almost
like the sequel to a movie that never existed. How did it turn out this way? (Example: Kelly’s parents, “fiancé”
Derek and Ozone’s ex girlfriend are not in the first movie).
Approaching the script it was decided from the outset
that except the three characters that would continue, the movie would not be a continuation of the first. We were looking
for a completely new theme, to be bigger, and viewers that did not see the first one would be able to enjoy it.
were the dancers for the movie found? There are some amazing dancers. For instance, the little kid, “Hot Tot”.
Goodman was the talented choreographer and he his well connected with the dance world and dance studios. He was in charge
of finding all the dancers. Shabadoo was also well entrenched in the world of dancers and contributed to recruitment.
did the scene with Turbo dancing on the ceiling and all over the room work? I’ve always wondered how you did that. It’s
Creating such a scene involves a very elaborate mechanism of a room set that can mechanically rotate. As the
dancer makes his way across the walls and ceiling, he is actually standing up and the room rotates under his feet. So in reality,
when he is on the ceiling, he is actually standing up and the ceiling is under his feet. As the dance continues, the room
rotates until the floor is once again under his feet.
Why does Turbo’s girlfriend suddenly walk out of the closet
in the hospital scene? That part has always confused me. It seems as if there’s a scene missing.
Yes, you are
right, there was a scene where she sneaks into the hospital to help him, but after the initial cut of the movie was too long,
we had to take out pieces and this scene was one of those sacrificed to keep the movie in the 90 minute range.
was it like directing the giant crowd scene in the end of the film?
This was the best! I love big crowd scenes and
the more the merrier. There is a feeling of exhilaration to see so many people dancing and moving to the beat of the music
that was played through huge speakers.
How did you get all those people to show up for the shot?
This was actually
easy. The production team announced it on all the radio stations in Los Angeles, and we shot on the weekend. So many people
at the time were hip hop fans, so the square filled up in no time.
What are you working on now?
I have just
completed a Sci-Fi Comedy called "The Interplanetary Surplus Male and Amazon Women from Outer Space." I am starting a new
project called "Explosive Love," a politically driven thriller to be shot in April.
Thank you so much for your time.
I really appreciate it. It's so great to be able to interview the director of one of my all time favorite films.