Events Links Resources
The Parade People - Gateway Music Festivals and Tours - Connect With a Pro


The Spotlight presents news and articles on topics related to marching bands and pageantry arts.

Share this page:

View more articles

Suggest an article topic
Popular articles

Prep your body for marching season

12 Holiday Gift Ideas for Marching Band Fans

Cavalcade of Bands Honor Band

Pride of the Dutchmen Marching Band

German bugle band makes its mark at Calgary Stampede

Marching bands to honor 9/11 anniversary

Traveling Efficiently

Specialized Marching Band Carts

Working With a Travel Agent

Fiesta Bowl Memorable for Norton Band

'Band Nerds' Holiday Poem

Drum beat sparks music passion

Sport, Art, or...Spart?

Musical Growth Spurt

First Day of Rehearsal

Troopers Drum Corps Documentary

Ripped Jeans And Self-Esteem

Boot Camp For Bands

Benefits of Indoor Percussion

Secrets of a Successful Audition

A Disappearing Act

One More Time Around Again Marching Band

Steamboat Springs Ski Band

Band Boosters Support Dreams

Ohio State School for the Blind Marching Band

Rose Parade Float Honors Marching Bands

Throw It Down Movie

Bob McGrath inspires on Sesame Street

Rose Parade Float Decorators

Bugles Across America

High School Musical Choreographer Bonnie Story

Working in Harmony at Fillmore Central H.S., Harmony, Minnesota

Marching Amidst the Glaciers at Colony H.S., Alaska

Empowering Multiplicity at Trenton Peabody H.S., Tennessee

Visualizing the Extraordinary at Sebring H.S., Florida

Henson blends winter guard with puppetry in Panther & Crane

Competition: How important is it?

Band Nerds Poetry Book

Capturing Show Design Ideas

Halftime Magazine Debuts

From The 50 Yard Line Movie

Three Tips for Cleaning Drill

American Band Book

YouTube Marching Videos

Brentwood Band plays on Brad Paisley CD

Macy's Marching Band

Broken Arrow Documentary

Color Guard Flag Design

Marching Band Health Tips

European Flower Parades

Home > Spotlight > Throw It Down

Throw It Down captures intensity of drum corps

Professional filmmaker delivers outside perspective

By Ken Martinson, Founder

Throw It Down DVD Cover Throw It Down, an 88-minute documentary from director John E. Maher, offers a rare behind-the-scenes look at the reality of marching in a top-ranked drum and bugle corps. The film follows the 2006 season of the Bluecoats Drum & Bugle Corps from Canton, Ohio, and presents themes that are universal to anyone involved in the marching activity.

This is a film about perseverence and the ultimate rewards for those who manage to navigate the challenges of a summer spent living, breathing and dreaming drum corps. It's important to watch Throw It Down all the way through. In the first 30 minutes, uninitiated viewers might wonder why anyone would want to join a corps and work so hard. But the answer becomes clear later in the film when the intensity and repetition start to pay off.

Maher and his crew have successfully created a film that is emotionally intense and visually sophisticated.

At times the cinematography is so good that it's easy to forget this is a documentary and not a movie that had the luxury of a script and multiple retakes. The cameras did a great job finding the stories, capturing interesting angles and getting inside the action.

"My camera assistant kept me from being trampled when we were working close to the drill," Maher says. "We collected some 60 hours of material. Part of the trick is getting the corps members comfortable with us and then just being there at the right time. There are no shortcuts in this type of filmmaking."

Throw It Down Film Crew To develop the story line, Maher creatively weaves a series of dream sequences through the film. These segments take viewers into the lives of corps members and illustrate how immersed the performers have become in their tasks. The intensity of the dreams is balanced with doses of humor and an upbeat musical score.

Some of the most clever editing is found during the audition scene when the nervous tapping of prospective members sets the pulse for a music video. Another scene that works well is the food crew's fast-paced shopping trip to buy groceries.

The visual aspects of the film are complemented by an effective soundtrack. Several original songs perfectly illustrate the mood and determination of corps members. A song titled "Push Through" delivers the key line, "I won't give up, you won't give in, we'll take this thing to the end."

One of the strengths of Throw It Down comes from the fact that the filmmakers were largely unfamiliar with the drum and bugle corps activity. Maher has worked as a professional filmmaker for more than 30 years and Throw It Down is his 14th film. This "outsider" view allowed him to bring an independent voice to tell the story based on what he observed.

Initially, the fact that Maher was not familiar with the operation and protocol of a marching unit was problematic.

"The corps was concerned about our disrupting their drill routine," Maher says. "I needed to get close and they wanted me back so we danced around that sensitivity all summer. I was deathly afraid of spoiling anything for them but at the same time I had a responsibility to the producer to make a good honest film."

A significant moment of bonding between the filmmakers and the corps occurred in early summer when Maher showed the Bluecoats a preview of footage that had been shot during the winter camps.

"Corps director Dave Glasgow told everyone then that we were part of the Bluecoats family. That was a very emotional moment for our crew," Maher says. "We knew we needed to make a special effort to honor their concerns and make a good film."

Throw It Down gets its title from the concept of performers "throwing down" the best performance they can possibly give. The film ends on a joyous note with the Bluecoats members showing ultimate satisfaction with their final performance. Yet the film is not just about a single season. Throw It Down gives viewers new appreciation for any quality performance, since they have peeked behind the scenes and witnessed the grueling effort that was required offstage.

The film has already won several awards on the film festival circuit and continues to be screened at special events across the country. Visit for a schedule of upcoming screenings. You can also order Throw It Down on DVD.

View the movie trailer for Throw It Down

Images courtesy of Throw It Down/JEM Films.

Copyright 2009 All rights reserved. This material may not be published or redistributed without permission.

2023 DCI Championships Photos

2023 DCI Photos

2023 Fall Marching Band Events

Facebook on Facebook

Working on your next marching show? Find Band Uniforms and select Marching Band Music Arrangers in the Resource section.

Support Music logo