A riveting documentary that explores the powerful culture of HBCU marching bands has recently premiered in Atlanta at Morehouse College.
Three years in the making, Point & Drive presents the passion, talents, history, struggles, and triumphs of the most imitated marching band of all time. The 90-minute documentary takes a close look at the Florida A&M University Marching 100 from the voices of successful alumni spanning over four decades.
“There is a discipline that is required to achieve one’s own definition of success,” said Brandi Mitchell, the film’s director and producer. “Point and Drive helps reignite that passion in those who want to recalibrate the current season of their lives.”
The film depicts a chronological depiction of the band’s legacy under the direction of Dr. Williams P. Foster, who is known for his influence in setting the standard for how many marching bands operate today. With untold stories from five generations of band classes between 1961 and 2013, it explains what it takes to be a part of such a historical entity.
“Point and Drive is told in a way that we have multi-generations in it,” said Mitchell in a face-to-face interview with UrbanGeekz at the Morehouse College red carpet screening. “We have someone that is in his 70s, and we have someone that is 19-years-old in the field.”
The unifying power of music allows her film to appeal to diverse audiences ranging from middle school students upwards. “They all relate because music is a unifier. I think that’s why it is unique in that respect,” she said.
Shot over 36 months, the film includes unprecedented original interviews, live performances, and rare archival footage of the process of mastering the renowned Point and Drive technique. It also shows the beauty and anatomy of the Historically Black College and University halftime show which the Marching 100’s founder Dr. Foster innovated while chronicling the band’s influence on young adults from all societal backgrounds.
Similarly, it dives into the powerful culture behind marching bands. Above all it shows how participating in a band gives the blueprint for excellence while instilling both drive and perseverance in members no matter their station in life.
In her interview, Mitchell also talked about the significance of her directorial debut.
“It’s needed now,” she said. “From the time I first heard of the idea in 2011, to all of the events that happened, with Trayvon Martin, all of these boys that I grew up with in inner city Detroit could’ve been Trayvon Martin. Any of them could’ve been in a situation where life is now ended. So, to me, especially right now, it’s relevant.”
Mitchell, a successful media entrepreneur, is no newbie to being behind the scenes. She has forged a career as a high-profile celebrity hair and makeup artist for brands such as TLC, TBS, BET, MTV, and TV ONE.
“They say once your mind is expanded, it can’t contract, meaning that once you are exposed to something, it usually expands what’s possible for you,” said Mitchell. “I wanted to put that in the Earth. I wanted to put possibility in the Earth.”
Mitchell herself has first-hand experience of marching bands. She is an alum of FAMU and was a member of the FAMU Marching 100 under the direction of William Foster.
“I had been in the marching band for all of my life. When I evaluated great friendships, and where my drive comes from, I thought about the hardest thing I ever did in my life. The hardest thing I actually ever did, besides give birth to my son, was make the marching 100.
“The people who I interviewed are very successful people in life. I asked them what was that driving force, and they said I feel like it was what I learned on that marching band field that created success in life.”