20 years later, Dallas Austin is still being celebrated for ‘Drumline’

Dallas Austin changed the way people view band culture

Dallas Austin is a Grammy-award-winning producer, songwriter Hall of Fame inductee, film producer, and founder of the Rowdy Rebels. He has produced over 60 hit singles that debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 list, with over 20 spending numerous weeks in the Top 10. Austin also produced the films Drumline and ATL, and helped to pass The Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act that has catapulted Georgia’s film industry.

On Aug. 19, The Macon Film Festival will honor Austin with the inaugural Macon Film Festival Georgia Film Impact Award at the Grand Opera House.

How does it feel to be honored with the Impact Award?

It’s incredible, and it’s also the 20th anniversary of Drumline, as well. It’s a great feeling to be honored and to be recognized for it. At the same time, it’s what it meant to the culture and what it meant to the marching band culture, just in general. When we made the movie, I wanted to make sure that every year [when] somebody [new] went into the band … they felt that same story because, to me, it’s a band story, even though it’s my story. But it’s a story that belongs to everybody in the marching band, and I’m excited and honored to be recognized for it.

What have you seen Drumline do for band culture?

It’s amazing because the Southern marching band culture wasn’t looked at at all. We knew about it, but the world didn’t know about it like that. It wasn’t able to be judged in the same kind of marching band competitions like the Blue Devil competitions and so many other ones, and it wasn’t getting the real light that it deserved. It was almost like rap music. I was excited to see how it started to transform other bands and make other colleges, whether it was an HBCU or not. They started to spice up their bands or pay more attention to the bands. Even for the PWIs, it just started making them cooler; it started making them have more leeway with their bands and not be as stiff.

How have you seen the city of Atlanta grow in the producing landscape?

It’s grown tremendously because even when we were filming Drumline, some of my same crew members were working on [an] Another Bad Creation video. Now, it’s evolved into an industry where it’s still work to be done. It’s still not Hollywood, but it’s turned into a way bigger mecca for film and entertainment than it [was] before. What’s great about it is there’s still room for growth for people to still come along. Even with Big Boi having a trailer company, he said it wasn’t enough trailers for the film companies, so he started it and now he has a very successful trailer company. It’s things like that. Seeing the film studios go up everywhere, seeing crew members move from LA to New York and everywhere to come here to work, it’s taken its own into a real industry.

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