- Director Paul Hoen told Insider several behind-the-scenes tidbits about the 2007 DCOM “Jump In!”
- Corbin Bleu and Keke Palmer did most of their own double-Dutch stunts.
- Bleu’s real-life father, David Reivers, played his character’s dad in the movie.
Director Paul Hoen told Insider that the duo was more than up for the challenge, calling them some “of the most talented physical actors” he’s ever worked with.
“What’s just so amazing with that group of actors is that they could do all of that jump roping,” Hoen said. “It’s amazingly hard, and all the tricks, they were completely into those and learning how to do them.”
Hoen said that Palmer and Bleu were able to master enough tricks that he “didn’t have to cut around to stunt doubles.”
He added that doubles were only used for a few stunts, such as Izzy’s parkour moments.
According to the director, he wasn’t allowed to include shots of people punching each other in the head, mouth guards shooting out of mouths, or blood flying. The crowds also couldn’t cheer for any intense-looking hits, as that would be “glorifying violence.”
But these regulations didn’t make for the best-looking fights.
Hoen said he cut together a big moment that was supposed to be “the Muhammad Ali rope-a-dope scene” — in which there’s a lot of swings and everyone’s tired — and the rough edit didn’t look good.
Since filming had already been completed, he had to salvage the boxing scenes with footage he already had. So the director said he went back and “did all the things I was told I could not do.”
There were a few shots of Bleu punching the toward the camera and some of Patrick Johnson Jr. (who played Rodney) throwing his head back, so Hoen was able to stitch them together to look like Bleu had punched him in the face. He added some moments of the crowd cheering, too.
This was her first kiss, which Hoen said she had told him and Bleu, so everyone tried to be extra conscious of making her feel comfortable.
According to Hoen, the “High School Musical” alum was “a little freaked out about it because he was a little bit older,” but it all worked out and the kiss scene became a really “sweet” on-screen moment.
“In the end, everybody realizes that it’s not that romantic of a situation, it’s just so technical,” the director said.
In the original script, Izzy and Mary only spoke to each other through their windows, but Hoen said he thought it’d look much less “flat” if they had more access to one another — thus, the fire escape was born.
Hoen said he couldn’t help but envision “that whole ‘West Side Story’ sequence,” in which Tony comes up the fire escape to meet Maria. So the crew added landings outside the characters’ rooms to the already-existing set.
This made for the perfect, “West Side Story”-inspired setup for the kiss scene, with the two climbing onto the fire escape from their windows and meeting in the middle.
He recalled it actually being about 120 minutes, but since DCOMs usually air in two-hour blocks with room for commercials, the film had to be cut down.
“It took a long time to kind of cull it down,” Hoen explained. “I don’t know that we pulled out [full] scenes, but a lot of the double Dutch was just so thick and it was just trying to find the rhythm of how we could cut all of it down, especially in those competitions.”
Hoen said it was difficult to decide what to let go of, so two editors were needed to figure out how to shorten it. Several of the double-Dutch routines were cut down, mostly leaving behind the best tricks and highlights.
Reivers previously had a small role in the 1999 DCOM “The Thirteenth Year” and on “Hannah Montana.”
Hoen said Reivers is a “tremendous actor” and that it just made sense to cast him as Bleu’s father in the movie.
“They were such good friends, they had a great relationship,” Hoen said. “And it’s not often that the parent and the actor child have such a healthy relationship with each other.”
This was the first time Bleu worked with his dad on-screen, but the pair teamed up again for “High School Musical 3,” when Reivers play his character Chad’s father.
Although several extras filled the spectator seats, Hoen said most of the rows were loaded with fake “balloon people” since there wasn’t the budget to fill the arena with real actors.
He explained that the crew made the crowd appear very full with “dummies with clothes on,” putting wigs, hats, and coats on blown-up dolls to make them look realistic.
“It’s really weird when you’d go to lunch, they’d turn all the lights on, and the people look really real,” Hoen recalled. “They have people features, but you feel like all of these people are just staring at you.”
He told Insider that, if you rewatch the scene, “you’ll see a few people moving, but a lot of people are just sort of sitting there.”
The amount of narration changed, too. Originally, there were only going to be a few voice-over moments, but Hoen decided to add more after they handed over the duty to Johnson Jr.
“I just had the idea that you’ll see more Rodney at the end, that he’s sort of a changed guy, and he’s the one that’s sort of telling this story,” Hoen explained.
Hoen said he thought viewers would easily recognize Johnson Jr.’s voice throughout the movie but was happily surprised when many were shocked that Rodney had been the narrator all along.
The director settled on a nice, full-circle scene, in which Izzy’s dad tries jumping rope.
He explained that like in Disney’s “Eddie’s Million Dollar Cook-Off,” which he also directed, he wanted an extra moment “where the father fully embraces what the son’s dream is.”
He added that it worked out extra well because Reivers could actually jump rope.