When audiences view Tupac’s All Eyez on Me, on DVD they will be amazed by the creativity of its director Benny Boom who uses his years of directing videos, as well as films, to bring the performance scenes to their heights.
In an interview with Right On!, he comments, “When we scouted out different locations, one of the most important ones was where we re-create The House of Blues. When we finished, the results really blew us away.”
What Boom is referring to is the rousing re-creation of Tupac’s famed House of Blues concert which took place on July 4, 1996. The concert was a pivotal moment in Shakur’s career as he had just completed his studio work for Death Row Records and marked his return to performing before a live audience.
“We basically had this huge empty shell (an abandoned Kawasaki in Atlanta) and built the House of Blues from scratch,” says Boom.
“We had several hundred extras on set,” says the director. “I came out on stage before we started rolling camera and told everybody, ‘Forget that we’re filming a movie, this is Pac. You guys know the songs. You guys know the music. Feel free to sing along.’”
Boom confides that he made sure that none of the audience members saw Demetrius Shipp Jr who plays the role of Tupac ahead of time. “I told them, ‘I don’t want any fake applause. I don’t want fake nothing. I want real honesty.
I want real excitement.’ So then we roll camera, start the music, Demetrius comes out with ‘Ambitionz Az a Ridah’ playing, and you could see people in the audience crying. Girls, especially, were in tears when he jumped out on stage. More than any other moment in the movie, that was the turning point where everybody realized, ‘we’ve really got something special here.’ I don’t know any other way to describe it except to say Pac’s spirit was in Demetrius during that performance. It was incredible.”
Sadly, what triggers in Boom’s mind is the fact that he recalls, “It brought back memories of a 25-year-old Black man who didn’t get to live long enough to fulfill his dreams. But this film is the ultimate movie. Everyone has their version. We had to make a film that covered everything.
“It was challenging to tell his story, but we told it from his perspective,” Boom reflects.