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About The Location
Shooting DRUMLINE in Atlanta allowed the filmmakers to assemble a gifted group of musicians. As producer Timothy Bourne liked to say during filming, "You can't swing a cat in Atlanta without hitting a marching band. It's a big part of the culture there. It seemed like Atlanta was the natural place to do it. It's just organic to that city."

Although other locations were scouted – including Texas and Florida – the filmmakers ultimately had Georgia on their minds when they chose Atlanta (Dallas Austin's recording base) as the production's home. Much of the shoot took place on the campuses of Clark Atlanta University and Morris Brown College, which portrayed the story's fictional Atlanta A&T University. Both campuses are part of the city's historic Atlanta University Center Institutions, the nation's oldest and largest consortium of African-American private institutions of higher learning. Not since director Spike Lee shot his 1988 feature "School Daze" at Morehouse College had a film been made in Atlanta that spotlighted the black culture of southern college life.

Two-time Emmy Award-winning production designer Charles Bennett ("The

Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All," "Roots") added to the movie magic by overseeing the transformation of Clark Atlanta's Panther Stadium (built for the 1996 Summer Olympics) into the Atlanta A&T facility. That makeover included a refurbished scoreboard and new color scheme, although the filmmakers retained the campus' familiar panther mascot (although the Mighty Marching Panthers of CAU were christened the Pounding Panthers of Atlanta A&T).

Director Stone led his troops (or troupes) to the home of the Atlanta Falcons to orchestrate the film's crowning sequence – the battle of the bands – which featured actual marching bands from Atlanta's Morris Brown College (the Wolverines) and Clark Atlanta University (the Mighty Panthers), plus Florida's Bethune-Cookman College (the Wildcats) in Daytona Beach, Louisiana's Grambling State Tiger Band, as well as the fictional Atlanta A&T University Panther Band.

One of the trademarks of these competitions is the performance of a rap artist accompanying one or more bands. "If you listen to a lot of records, like Trick Daddy's ‘Take It to the House,' they have a real band influence," says Dallas Austin.. "Look at Mystikal, Petey Pablo, Outkast, all of whom incorporated marching band sounds in their rap music because it is such a strong part of Southern culture. That's why these bands play so many Top 40 records and rap – they're like the street version of marching band music."

Working with the Jive Record label (the producer and distributor of the film's soundtrack), the production secured popular rapper Petey Pablo to perform with the Morris Brown Wolverines in the film's rousing end sequence at the Georgia Dome. Pablo's presence helped draw over 40,000 Atlantans to the Georgia Dome over a two-day weekend period to participate as extras in the film. "To see these battling bands, these marching band drumlines, competing against each other – it was tremendous," Stone enthuses. "That's why I like to call DRUMLINE ‘Top Gun' with drums.'"

Wendy Finerman points to another landmark film in noting that DRUMLINE is more than a movie about marching bands. "It's like ‘Rocky' – it's a movie about underdogs – about a group of kids that come together and go far beyond their wildest dreams. Who can't identify with that?"


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