Director uses ‘100’ as prototype

The fifth quarter is universally recognized among historically black colleges and universities.

When the battle of the gridiron is over, it’s time for the bands to show down.

The upcoming 20th Century Fox movie, “Drumline,” takes a look inside this cherished moment of musical rivalry.

It is a front-row look into HBCU bands, a coming-of-age film full of laughs, tears and knowledge.

It was screened in Orlando by members of the Black College Communication Association and students at the members’ schools, who were meeting there along with the College Media Advisers.

Seen through the eyes of Devon Miles (Nick Cannon of Nickelodeon’s “The Nick Cannon Show”), the viewer is propelled into the drumline of the fictional Atlanta A&T University.

Miles is fresh out of a Harlem high school and ready to begin his tenure at the renowned university and more important, to be part of its drumline.

But Devon is set on marching to a different drummer: himself.

Cannon is surprisingly convincing in this sometimes dramatic role, shedding tears at crucial moments.

He shows his acting abilities in scenes such as one between Devon and his estranged father. His comedic background from Nickelodeon is not to be overlooked, however, he provides comedic relief throughout the film.

Another lead actor, Orlando Jones, also surprises. Jones, best known for his “Make 7-Up Yours” commercials, plays the initially stony band director, Dr. Aaron Lee.

Lee is an “old school” band director unmoved by the flashy tactics and modern music that rival schools are using.

Instead, Lee believes the oldies are definitely goodies.

With the “Big Southern Classic” on his heels and the school’s president constantly on his back, Lee has to decide if the music he believes in or his job is more important.

Another standout is Leonard Roberts (“He Got Game,” “Love Jones”). As Sean Taylor, the actor delivers a brilliant performance as the cocky but dedicated drum-section leader.

At first the upperclassman resents every move Devon makes, but ultimately he embraces the young man as a friend as well as a fellow band member.

The film is directed by Charles Stone III, best known for his cult classic Budweiser “Whassuup” commercials. Stone said he was excited when approached with the idea of a film about HBCU drumlines.

“Show-style bands really embrace the worlds of hip hop and R&B with a style and choreography that is explosive,” he said.

Moviegoers might find it easy to forget they’re in a theater and not the football stands.

The scenes are realistic and reminiscent of almost every band famous for musical showmanship. Although Stone admits that FAMU was used as a prototype of sorts for the fictional band, footage tapes of other bands were used to get it “just right.”

“There is also a lot of Southern and Grambling in this film,” Stone said.

A soundtrack is in the works. Blessed by the fingertips of Dallas Austin, one of hip hop’s top producers, the tracks will feature many of the songs played by the bands in the film.

As Austin said in a news release, “these Southern show-style bands all play Top 40 music. My job here is to write a bunch of Top 40 songs, get them on the radio before the movie comes out, so audiences will recognize the songs as they’ve been arranged for the marching bands in the movie.”

The first single sure to get into listeners’ heads is “I Want a Girl Like You,” by R&B singer Joe featuring Jadakiss.