Letter from Riverside Community College Marching Tigers

[Editor’s Note: While conducting research for the print magazine’s “Marching Band in the Movies” article, writer Mike Boo traded emails with Gary Locke, director of the Riverside Community College Marching Band. Locke’s emails were so inspirational, we wanted to publish these in their entirety. The full article, featuring RCC and other bands who have made appearances in notable films such as “Spiderman 3” and “Rudy” will be printed in the premiere issue of Halftime Magazine in July/August 2007. Subscribe now to be one of the first to read the full article.]

E-MAIL 1

Hi Michael,

You may not remember, but we’ve met many times … and spoken briefly … usually at WGI, where Fantasia and our winter drum line have been very successful over the years. Sounds like there is at least one more article there, somewhere. After all, how many programs in the country have won the WGI World Class with both guard and drums–at all, let alone in the same year! As it turns out, we have our Fantasia awards banquet tonight–at my house … and this weekend I can get some time to answer your email–and set you up with a couple of students who have done our movie projects. As a matter of fact, in the month of March, we shot scenes for two more movies, to add to our long list! We’re the high school band in the upcoming movie “Bratz: The Movie,” based on the cartoon series and the dolls. And … some of our members were in the orchestra for the new Jessica Alba movie, entitled “The Eye,” where she plays the part of a blind violin virtuoso. This Monday night, we’re shooting a music video with the band SUM 41, which is something like our third or fourth music video overall. Running to pick up awards, then food, then ice … and I’m editing a “highlights” slideshow/mini-movie of the Fantasia season … so how about I get back with you either tomorrow morning–or my Sunday is pretty open, except for going to my former drum major’s wedding.

All best,

Gary Locke
Associate Professor
Director of Marching Band
Riverside Community College

E-MAIL 2

Michael,

Just read the info underneath your emai l … yes, you ARE on a deadline! OK–how about we speak on the phone tomorrow sometime–might that help you out?

OR do you want to send me your questions via email and I can answer them “in the cracks” of my day, night and tomorrow?

Let me know how I can best help the situation. By the way, I was the one who hired Wayne to be involved in two of our movie projects–one being “American Pie Presents: Band Camp” and the other was called “The First $20 Million Is Always the Hardest,” which featured five of our tuba players throughout the movie as well as the band at the end.

You might also look into a great Garry Marshall film called “The Other Sister,” which revolved around two mentally challenged characters, who fall in love and eventually get married. Great cast, including Diane Keaton, Tom Skerritt, Hector Alizondo–and the two leads were Giovanni Ribisi and Juliette Lewis. Cool storyline/subplot was that Giovanni loved marching band music! And his “favorite band” was Riverside Community College! The production company purchased photos of our band from us and put them up in this character’s apartment on the walls … and he would listen to RCC playing “76 Trombones” on his walkman all of the time … AND, as the “grand finale” of the film, his wedding present to his new bride was the entire RCC Band, marching down the street in front of the church as the wedding party exited out the front–in San Francisco! Yes, Garry Marshall loves RCC! He buses our entire band, flags the whole thing–up to SF for three days of shooting, paid for bus, hotel, food, etc.

He also used us in the movie “Dear God,” starring Greg Kinnear, when he tried to duplicate us appearing in the Hollywood Christmas Parade (most of our scenes were edited out) AND he hired us again for “The Princess Diaries 2–any musicians you see in the film, including the french horn players, the trumpet fanfare unit AND the little groups in the parade–those are all RCC band members.

The RCC Drum Line appears on the DVD for the movie “Drumline,” in the music video for the song with JC Chasez of *NSYNC fame–“Blowin’ Me Up (With Her Love).” Imagine being a college drummer and being hired to shoot a music video for two nights, all night, with JC Chasez and actress Tara Reid!

The RCC Drum Line was also featured in an episode of the hit TV show “Boston Public,” when the storyline revolved around a type of “hazing” that went on in the high school drumline–senior drum captain versus freshman rookie.

RCC played the part of the high school marching band on several episodes of the popular TV show–“Gilmore Girls” on the WB network, as well as a recurring role on the Emmy-award winning TV show “American Dreams,” where the lead character in the story was a young clarinet player in my band! She was also a “dancer” on “American Band Stand” in the story–set in the 60s. And, we’ve been seen as a marching band on episodes of “Monk.”

RCC is the marching band that appeared at the opening of the original movie “Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery,” and had a blast working with Mike Myers. As we round the corner of the street, he is our drum major!

I think that, in general, the involvement of our band in these Hollywood projects has helped our image more than hurt it. Sure, some of these projects are silly, but they sure help our recruiting! And … we’ve done so many now that I am consulted on nearly all of the “band stuff,” so that it often turns out more realistic than it might have. In “American Pie Presents: Band Camp”–the last one, we worked for many, many days on that project, earning the band a good amount of money, AND we were involved in a lot of decisions about doing things “the way a high school band would do them.” Naturally, there are a lot of things we have no control over, but the marching scenes in that project are pretty realistic! We actually wrote the drill, marched it and really played the music in that film.

Hope this gets you started. You can always consult our band website–www.rccband.org for a list of our credits. And I do have lots of photos–not sure about the clearance of them, but if I took them with my own camera, it is probably all right.

More later,

Gary

P.S.  We are often referred to as “Hollywood’s Band,” due to our numerous credits. When watching the RCC Band work on the set of “Boston Public,” actor Anthony Heald (he played the high school deputy principal on the show) turned to actor Chi McBride (he played the high school principal) and said, “You know, this band has better credits than you do!” referring to our Hollywood resume.  Anthony Heald had a major part in the film “Silence of the Lambs.” Interestingly enough, Sharon Leal played the music teacher on that show, loved our band–and she just was seen in “Dreamgirls!”

It’s easy to figure out how much of a donation these movies make to our band fund, but the VALUE to our kids? That’s another story entirely. How do you put a value on the opportunity to work “up close and personal” with Jim Carrey on “The Truman Show”?  (There is a flashback sequence, when he is shown as being in band while in college–RCC is the college band)  OR with Mike Myers (mentioned earlier) or Dustin Hoffman? We were in his movie called “Hero,” and played “Happy Birthday” on the set for Geena Davis, with Andy Garcia playing bass drum–I do have a photo of that! And, we worked with Dustin Hoffman again on the movie “Wag the Dog,” and I have photos of that.

These experiences stay with kids for a long time! What about meeting Samuel L. Jackson on the set of “Coach Carter”–RCC is the high school band in that great movie! Who said marching band was just a bunch of geeky kids? Marching band brings opportunities–it teaches that success is oftentimes preparation meeting opportunity. We are always on time, prepared and ready to go. So … we get re-hired, over and over again. And, if nothing else, the band members learn to be flexible. They learn discipline, commitment and follow-through. What employer doesn’t want those qualities in his employees? And this can be learned in marching band? In Hollywood’s Band? Wow! Stop the presses!

Photo: RCC in “American Pie Presents: Band Camp”

Drum Corps 9-1-1

Have you ever broken down on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, had your kitchen engulfed in flames or ran out ...