Interview: Benny Boom, director of S.W.A.T.: Firefight

Benny Boom head shotDisc Dish caught up with filmmaker Benny Boom to talk about his movie S.W.A.T.: Firefight (Blu-ray $30.95, DVD $24.96; Sony; released on March 1, 2011), a DVD premiere in-name-only follow-up to the 2003 action thriller S.W.A.T.

Boom sharpened his filmmaking teeth on music videos over the past decade, directing clips featuring such artists as Nas, Ciara, 50 Cent and Mobb Deep. He hopped into the feature film director’s chair in 2009, helming the lively crime comedy Next Day Air, which went on to gross an impressive $10 million in theaters before a successful home entertainment run.

Boom told us a bit about  his experiences rebooting the S.W.A.T. franchise before we inevitably asked him if he was a fan of the original S.W.A.T. TV series.

Disc Dish: So tell us, how does the maker of a comedy like Next Day Air get a gig directing the reboot of the S.W.A.T. series?

Benny Boom: I did it with a great pitch, some great ideas and showing everyone that I had a lot of excitement about the project. After reading the script, I knew I wanted to do it. And the producers were also very excited about how I planned on handling the action scenes with lots of point-of-view shots so the viewers are right in there in the middle.

DD: How was shooting in Detroit?

BB: It was great, man. We used all of Detroit — the whole city and the surrounding suburbs — and it really gave the film a texture and sense of size. I’m from Philadelphia and I know what the Philly and New York suburbs are like and Detroit reminded me of them.

DD: Firefight features some real bad-ass stars. I know I personally wouldn’t mess with Gabriel Macht (Middle Men), Kristanna Loken (Terminator 3) or Robert Patrick (The Men Who Stare at Goats). How did you get on with them?

BB: It was great having them collaborate with me on S.W.A.T. Together, we came up with the ideas and served the film best. I’m a collaborative director and, yeah, I have a vision, but I don’t have to enforce my ideas on everyone all the time.

DD: How did you like dealing with all the guns and weaponry?

S.W.A.T.: Firefight movie scene

The S.W.A.T. team swings into action in Firefight.

BB: It was great! My father was a cop, so I’m familiar with guns and all that, but it’s not like I’m an NRA advocate or anything. We had a chance to go out to the gun range and work out and it was unbelievable. On set, I was like a kid in a candy store, I’ve got to admit. But there are always safety issues. When you’re doing a movie with faux weapons, there’s always this thing in the back of your mind about handling guns. Everyone remembers Brandon Lee. One day, we were doing a scene in Royal Oak outside of Detroit and the Royal Oak police came to the set to check the weapons. They’d never done anything like that before, I don’t think, but when they saw all these real weapons, it didn’t matter if they were filled with blanks. They checked out our permits, which they had every right to do, and then we all moved on.

DD: Okay, an obvious final question: Were you a fan of the original TV version of S.W.A.T.?

BB: Not really. I remember it, but didn’t see it much. I’m a fan of the original S.W.A.T. like I’m a fan of the original Hawaii Five-O. Maybe if it was rerun more often, I would have seen more of it.

About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.