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Troopers’ Hollywood story to make big-screen as documentary

by Mike Ferlazzo, DCW staff

This summer’s rebirth of Troopers one year after their near extinction is a “rags to riches” story that sounds like a Hollywood script. And thanks to one of their former drum majors, that story will actually make it to the big screen as a documentary fittingly titled “America’s Core.”

The film will be the first solo documentary for director Michael D. Gough of Boise, ID — a three-year soprano for the Troopers before becoming drum major in 2003 and 2004. Gough and sound engineer Aaron Greggory (left below) have been with the corps since May 25 and will be filming the trials and tribulations on tour right through DCI World Championships in Pasadena and the return trip to Casper.

Interestingly enough, Greggory had never been to a drum corps show before this summer, but Gough, on the other hand, is thrilled to be back on tour with the Troopers.

“I really wanted to live the experience and document it as accurately as I could,” he said. “I still remember what it’s [being on tour with the Troopers] like. I haven’t forgotten that, but I wanted to experience what the members experienced this summer. I wanted them to get comfortable with us so they’re not even paying attention when we’re out on tour with them.”

The creator of some short films and director of a 2005 feature film titled “Autumn Angle,” Gough is producing his first documentary after assisting on “After the Storm,” a story about the devastation of Hurricane Katrina by renowned documentary filmmaker Hilla Medalia.

“America’s Core” is his dream project — both as a filmmaker and corps alumnus — one that became a reality thanks to Gough’s Boise neighbor and “surrogate father,” Pinto Bennett. A 1970s musician known for his Country Western bands Tar Water and The Motel Cowboys, Bennett was exposed to the Troopers when they came to Boise in 2003 with Gough as their drum major. He is now funding much of the film’s $27,000 budget.

A large portion of that budget will go toward buying enough tape to record 170 hours of footage, which will be edited down to a two-hour documentary.

“We’re going through two tapes a day,” said Gough back at the corps’ pre-season camp in Cheyenne, WY, “so we may have to buy more tapes.

And just what they’re shooting is the “up close and personal” story about what exactly it means to be “America’s Corps” through the eyes and words of the current staff and performers. That story will also include historic references to the corps’ storied past, including interviews with other alumni.

“ ‘Honor, Loyalty and Dedication’ is the corps’ motto. We’re trying to learn what does that mean?” said Gough.

“There’s a real interesting story going on about what it means to be America’s Corps,” he said. “There are corps tour videos all the time, but they’re not really telling a story. In this film, we want to capture the story through the raw emotion of the individuals.”

Gough hopes to have the film ready by next spring. It will be the first produced by his new film company, F-Stop Productions.

“We’re editing along the way so we hope to have the film ready by April or May of next year,” he said. “That would be good timing, since it’s the 50th Anniversary of the corps and we’d like to have an event featuring an alumni premier of the movie.

“We’d also like to submit it to the film festival in Park City, UT,” he continued. “Of course, the goal is always the Sundance Film Festival, but that’s a tough one to crack.”
It is Gough’s hope to provide new exposure to the story of the Casper Troopers through the film. And that story’s having new chapters written this summer.

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Drum Corps World is published as an on-line electronic magazine by Sights & Sounds, Inc., Madison, WI. It is supported by advertising from manufacturers, service providers, corps, circuits and show sponsors. The publication began in October 1971 at the same time Drum Corps International was formed and has been produced continuously as a tabloid newspaper until April 2011 and on the Internet since May 2011. It is released monthly, as well as six additional e-mail blasts, one in late June, three during July and two in August.

The worldwide staff of writers and photographers provide show reviews during the season and interviews, feature articles, news and human interest stories during the off-season. The photographs that appear in the magazine are provided by 27 staff members who are scattered around the world. The publication covers World and Open Class Drum Corps International corps, Open and Class A Drum Corps Associates corps, alumni, mini-, parade and standstill units, as well as the growing activity in Europe, the Far East, Southeast Asia, the Philippines and South Africa.