From The 50 Yard Line brings marching band to the movie screen
Documentary winning awards, praise on film festival circuit
UPDATE: From The 50 Yard Line is now available for purchase on DVD. Visit FromThe50YardLine.com for details.
A new independent film delivers an emotional, insightful look into the
student marching band experience. The documentary From The 50 Yard Line is currently touring film festivals and will hopefully obtain
broader theatrical and DVD distribution in the future.
High school bands across the country are also hosting benefit screenings of the film to raise money for their band programs.
The movie is already an award winner. Its world premiere took place in
August 2007 at the Rhode Island International Film Festival where it
received the Grand Prize Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary. In
September 2007 it was named Best Family Film at the Bluegrass
Independent Film Festival.
Director Doug Lantz has been thrilled by the initial audience response
and early critical acclaim.
"Many talented people have put their hearts and energy into putting this
film together," Lantz says. "We believe it expresses the marching
experience in a way that hasn't really been done before."
Student experiences, budget cuts take center stage
The film's story revolves primarily around the Centerville Jazz marching
band from Centerville, Ohio, with additional segments featuring the Fairfax
H.S. band from Los Angeles, California. The two bands provide a great
contrast, with Centerville boasting a long tradition and Fairfax making
a comeback after 18 years without a music program.
Filmmakers followed the Centerville band members for eight months,
starting with spring auditions and continuing through the summer band
camp and fall competition season. That extensive time with the students
provided a bounty of quality footage.
Some of the best moments feature students sharing from-the-heart
comments about how important band has become in their lives. The power
of belonging is evident when students tell their fellow members that
band has helped them overcome fears and deal with life issues.
The film also incorporates a broad range of perspectives from parents,
judges, directors, school principals, academic professors, town mayors
and more. The film is effective at bringing to light the benefits of
music in education, and highlighting the budget woes that have wiped out
music programs at some schools.
Lantz wants a wide audience to hear the film's message about the
importance of adequate funding for instrumental music programs.
"We want to help communities where band programs have been cut or are
suffering due to cutbacks," Lantz says. "This is something that we are
Film attracts talented production team
Lantz has an ideal background to bring this film to life. He was raised
in Centerville and had first-hand experience as a member of the band. He
is currently based in Los Angeles where his professional experience
includes work at Miramax Films. His credits as a freelance journalist
include ABC News, Good Morning America, Nightline, 20/20 and A&E
When he began working on From The 50 Yard Line, Lantz's passion for the
project spread quickly.
"As I shared the message of the film with friends and co-workers, people
eagerly volunteered their time and talents," Lantz says. "We soon had a
production crew including a talented editor who now works for ESPN,
camera ops, co-producers, a lawyer and even an animator from Disney.
Everyone involved in this film was involved because they believed in the
importance of instrumental music and the affect that it has on a young
The team's experience is evident in the 103-minute film. This is a
high-quality production, with sweeping camera shots and a perfectly
synchronized score. The soundtrack incorporates both soaring
orchestrations and indie rock tunes that would be worthy of a separate
release on CD. The film is expertly paced, with highs and lows that will
move you along an emotional rollercoaster. One moment you choke up
during a kid's speech, then you laugh out loud during on-the-street
interviews where non-band folks try to define band terminology.
"Seeing the affect that the film has on the audience makes all of the
hard work worth it," Lantz says. "One common statement we hear after
every screening is 'I laughed, I cried and I learned something.'"
The humor and variety broaden the film's appeal to make it entertaining
for people outside of the band activity. The film takes fun, unexpected
turns, such as the scene showing animals from the nearby zoo as they
respond to the music. Another interesting segment is when drill designer
Michael Gaines explains his craft. The corresponding video becomes a
split screen showing Gaines' original computerized drill formations
along with high-camera video of the band performing the same drill.
The film's fun approach continues into the closing credits. That's where
we learn the answer to the question, How many miles does a marching band
performer march during one season? A trombone player wore a pedometer
through all rehearsals and performances, and she reveals her answer at
the end of the film. (We won't spoil the answer here ... view the film
to find out!)
Help get the film to your area
From The 50 Yard Line continues to be showcased at film festivals and benefit screenings across
the United States and around the world. Visit FromThe50YardLine.com for
the latest news about upcoming screenings, and to sign up for email
According to Lantz, they started with film festivals because that circuit
can reach distributors in Hollywood.
"We are hoping Hollywood will take notice as we travel to film
festivals and pack the theaters with the enthusiastic band family,"
The filmmakers encourage you to email and call the film festivals in
your area to ask that they include From The 50 Yard Line in their
If your band booster organization would like to schedule a screening in
your community to raise money for your band program, contact the filmmakers by email to let them know about
your interest (find contact info at FromThe50YardLine.com).
View the movie trailer and music video for From The 50 Yard Line
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