Different Drummers Presskit



Links of Interest


The Story Behind the Movie

About the Writers/Authors

About the Soundtrack

Production Stills

News Stories

Lead Crew

The Book

Full Cast



The International Accolade Competition 2013

Award of Merit

WorldFest Houston 2013

Platinum Remington  - Best Family Feature

Critics' Choice Award - Best Young Actor (Brayden Tucker)

Critics' Choice Award - Best Actress Nomination (Colleen Carey)

WorldFest Houston 2007

Grand Remington - Best Screenplay

San Fernando Valley International Film Festival 2007

Best Screenplay


 What would you do for a friend?



When David, who is confined to a wheelchair with muscular dystrophy, 
accurately foretells the death of their fourth grade teacher 
and says his source was none other than God, 
hyperactive Lyle decides to test the existence of God 
by attempting to get David to run again. 


Plot Summary

Different Drummers is based on a true story about the unusual spiritual journey and unlikely friendship of two boys growing up in the mid-1960s. When David, who is in a wheelchair with muscular dystrophy, accurately foretells the death of their fourth grade teacher, his hyperactive friend, Lyle, devises a plan to find out if God really exists, by attempting to get David to run again. When Lyle begins to twist the rules in a desperate attempt to give his friend some of his own excess energy, they come face to face with life's most transcendent and painful truths, and Lyle ultimately finds the answer to his question - in a most unexpected way.

Short Synopsis 

Different Drummers is a deeply inspirational and transcendent family film - based on a true story - about the unusual spiritual journey and unlikely friendship of two boys growing up in Spokane, Washington in the mid 1960s. Eleven-year-old DAVID, wheelchair-bound by muscular dystrophy, is growing progressively weaker, while his friend, LYLE (10), has a problem with an increasingly high energy level.  

David informs Lyle that their teacher is about to die and states that the source of this sad revelation is none other than God. When their teacher does die, a doubtful and confused Lyle feels he must find out for certain if God exists. Inspired by his TV idol, JACK LALANNE, and LaLanne's message of "working a miracle through intestinal fortitude and willpower," Lyle convinces David that he can teach him to run, secretly viewing this as a way to test the existence of God. 

A pact is made, and when Lyle begins to twist the rules in a desperate attempt to give his friend some of his own excess energy, they come face to face with life's most transcendent and painful truths - and Lyle's question is ultimately answered, in a way he never could have imagined.


Full Synopsis 

(spoiler alert)


Different Drummers is a deeply inspirational and transcendent family film - based on a true story - about the unusual spiritual journey and unlikely friendship of two boys growing up in Spokane, Washington in the mid 1960s. 

DAVID (11), wheelchair-bound by muscular dystrophy, is growing progressively weaker while LYLE (10) struggles with with an increasingly high, and seemingly uncontrollable energy level. MISS O'DONNELL, the school principal, deals with his antics by requiring frequent runs around the playground and recesses in the boiler room - under the supervision of the janitor, MR. MERRICK.

The school science fair is approaching - an event that takes place once a year on Parent Night. Lyle is unable to find a partner for his science project due to his reputation for recklessness (the year before he stuffed fireworks into a homemade volcano). Lyle befriends David as a last resort. In one of their first conversations, David informs Lyle that their teacher is about to die and states that the source of this sad revelation is God. When their teacher does die, a doubtful and confused Lyle feels he must find out for certain if God exists. When he doesn't get the answers he's searching for from Mr. Merrick or his parents, he decides to take matters into his own hands.

Inspired by his TV idol, Jack Lalanne, and his message of "working a miracle through intestinal fortitude and willpower," Lyle convinces David that he can teach him to run, viewing this as a way to test the existence of God. By way of exchange, Lyle extracts a promise from David to help Lyle create the World's Craziest-Coolest Bug Collection Ever, for the science fair. 

After a grueling day collecting bugs in the woods (involving bullies with BB guns), it becomes clear to Lyle that David is getting weaker and his running plan is not working, yet he remains determined to get David out of his wheelchair. A series of mishaps leads Lyle to a revised plan. He will walk across the gym on his hands on Parent Night as a way to raise money to help find a cure for muscular dystrophy. 

 Although Miss O'Donnell, the school principal, clearly explains to Lyle why she will absolutely not allow him to go ahead with his idea, he somehow misconstrues her scolding to mean precisely what he wants it to mean. Lyle and David barge ahead with big plans for Parent Night - Operation Handstand and the World's Craziest-Coolest Bug Collection. 

When Lyle begins to twist the rules in a desperate attempt to give his friend some of his own excess energy Miss O'Donnell decides to "slow him down a bit" by giving him an experimental drug that has been recently introduced in the schools to "mainstream problem children." Operation Handstand and the bug collecting grind to a halt. 

David, lost without the help and energy of his friend, sets out to free Lyle from the drug, even going head-to-head with Miss O'Donnell. Eventually David succeeds and the boys jump back into bug-collecting and Operation Handstand, unbeknownst to Miss O'Donnell. Mr. Merrick informs them that for such a big endeavor they need to "gather the troops." They enlist the services of the school librarian, the cafeteria cooks, a drum corp, a cop, a group of firemen and ultimately the entire school community. Lyle begins a workout program to prepare him for the big event with the help of Mr. Merrick and the firemen.

Everything changes on a school field trip to the local donut factory, where Lyle ignores his mom's no-donut rule. He gorges himself on pastries and in the grip of a sugar-high, pushes David and his wheelchair to the top of the long, steep hill above the donut factory. Their ride down, exhilarating at first, ends in disaster.

Lyle is grounded until his dad says he isn't, David is bedridden, though not seriously injured, and Miss O'Donnell calls a meeting of the parents. She informs them that she must separate the boys for their own safety, and that Lyle will no longer be allow to attend her school. David's mother intervenes, explaining she wants David to have a real life like other boys his age. Miss O'Donnell is not swayed and insists that Lyle's parents make arrangements to send him to another school as soon as Parent Night is over.

Lyle wakes up one morning to discover that the bug collection has been destroyed by a mouse. The boys throw together a last minute replacement science project for Parent Night, a fungus  and moss collection. At Parent Night the misunderstanding between Lyle and Miss O'Donnell comes to a head. When "the troops" start filing in Miss O'Donnell realizes her ultimatum has been ignored. She moves to stop Operation Handstand but Lyle, trapped and desperate, makes one last impassioned attempt to explain the necessity of his handwalk in David's behalf. Miss O'Donnell interrupts Lyle's lengthy, detailed explanation. She rushes to the restroom to hide an uncontrollable fit of laughter brought on by Lyle's convoluted version of her initial conversation with him about Operation Handstand. 

With Miss O'Donnell's approval, Lyle does his handwalk to an enthusiastic standing ovation. The firemen move through the crowd and collect quarters for the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation. 

Through it all, Lyle has come no closer to resolving the question that has driven him forward all this time - does God exist? It is only through David's death, a few months later, that Lyle discovers the true meaning of friendship, loyalty and miracles, and his question is ultimately answered.

Different Drummers Timeline Summary


2004 October
Don Caron and Lyle Hatcher form a business partnership
and begin work on the screenplay.


2006 December
The first version of the screenplay is completed
and is entered in WorldFest Houston and the
San Fernando International Film Festivals (for a reality check).


2007 May
Different Drummers wins the Grand Remington
for Best Screenplay at WorldFest Houston and also wins
Best Screenplay at the San Fernando International Film Festival.


Gary and Lisa Marks commit to an investment position
as executive producers of the movie, and the search
for the additional investors begins.


Don Caron and Lyle Hatcher begin work
on the literary version of Different Drummers.


The book is completed and released, and becomes
a bestseller at the Spokane Barnes and Noble.


The book is adapted into an updated version of the screenplay.


2012 January
Mark Dahlstrom comes onboard as a producer.


2012 August
Full funding is finally in place for production of the movie,
through Gary and Lisa Marks, four additional private investors
and a partnership with Washington Filmworks.

2012 September 1
Pre-production begins.


2012 October 10
Principal photography begins in Spokane under the movies co-directors,
Don Caron and Lyle Hatcher.


2012 November 23
Principal photography is completed and post-production begins.


2013 May 10
The feature film is completed.

2013 May 20
Different Drummers wins the Platinum Remington
for Best Family Feature at WorldFest Houston,
along with a Critic’s Choice Award for Best Young Actor.


2013 August 1
The Motion Picture Soundtrack, composed and performed
by Don Caron and Greg Gower, is released on CDBaby and on iTunes.

2013 August 12
Different Drummers receives its Dove Rating: suitable for all ages.


2013 September 25
Different Drummers signs with Heritage HM
(an Australian company specializing in family films)
for international distribution.


2013 October 10
The theatrical release of Different Drummers is scheduled for January 10, 2014
at the River Park Square AMC 20 Theatres.

2013 October 15
The paperback version of the book is released on Amazon.com.

2013 October 20
Different Drummers receives its MPAA rating:
PG for thematic elements, some mischief and brief smoking.


2013 November 20
Different Drummers receives the International Accolade Competition Award of Merit
for Family/Children Feature Films.


2014 January 10
Different Drummers opens at AMC Theatres.

Directors' Statement 


Different Drummers Don Caron and Lyle HatcherWithout question, in our journey through the last eight years (since this project began) the most frequent comment we've heard from people - from all walks of life, all across the country - is that they want to see more quality family movies. We explored this issue with hundreds of individuals at our book-signings. They weren't asking for more animations, movies with transparent agendas or films only children would want to watch. They were talking about meaningful stories that are accessible and important for people of all ages and all beliefs; stories that ask questions and stimulate conversation; stories that stick with you and change you in some way. We set out to create a feature film that would contribute to filling that need.


Different Drummers is a true story from the 60s that deals with a great diversity of subjects including hyperactivity (now known as AD/HD), medication of children to modify and/or control behavior, belief in God, physical disabilities, particularly muscular dystrophy, and parental and school discipline to name just a few. 

Life was very different in the 1960s, compared to today, and so were expectations and outcomes. In many ways this film clarifies the stark contrast between today's world and that earlier time, but it also highlights the similarities and raises questions about our choices and priorities as a culture, without judgement and without drawing conclusions. As with the book, Different Drummers, the film stimulates lively conversation on a broad spectrum of controversial subjects.

However, the original intent in telling the story of Different Drummers was to fulfill a fifty-year-old promise. Mrs. Dahlke, over 90 years old at the time of this writing, had made a promise to her son when he died, that she would tell his story. We spent countless hours with her and her family learning the details of David's life and have related what we learned from her in this movie as accurately as possible.

Don Caron and Lyle Hatcher 2013



Production Notes


David Dahlke's Gift

David Dahlke in 1965According to Gloria Dahlke, David's mother, from the time David was five years old he matter-of-factly stated that he spoke with God. In telling this story, Gloria is quick to point out that she did not raise him with religious beliefs and consequently this claim came as something of a surprise. She took the approach of neither encouraging nor discouraging him from his strongly held position. Neighbors and friends would call David and ask him to pray for them if there was a crisis in their family, and David would go to his bedroom, close the door and wait in the darkness. When he had God's answer he would call out to her and the inform her what the outcome of the situation would be. He was always right, accurately predicting the death of Mrs. McGuire and the continued life of another neighbor diagnosed with terminal cancer (as portrayed in the movie).

Also according to Mrs. Dahlke, many times she would look out into the back yard and see a woman with David, kneeling by his chair and speaking with him. Gloria never asked him who this was, and he never volunteered the information. 

The photo above is of the actual David Dahlke, not the actor (Ethan McKay) who played him in the feature film Different Drummers. 


The Subject of ADHD

Different Drummers Brayden TuckerBrayden Tucker is the young actor who plays the part of the hyperactive character, Lyle, in this true story from the mid-60s. Brayden himself was on medication for ADHD when he was chosen to play the part of a child with ADHD in this movie. The directors insisted that he be taken off the medication for the full term of the movie's production, and his parents agreed. By his own choice, Brayden did not return to the medication after the filming was completed. He won a Critics Choice Award at the 2013 Worldfest Houston International Film Festival for Best Young Actor.

The Subject of Religion

Different Drummers Ethan McKay
The subject of the existence of God comes up several times in the course of the story of Different Drummers due to the facts of the real David Dahlke's life. From the time he was three years old until his death, David said that he talked to God and according to his mother (who is still alive at the time of this writing) he many times predicted the future, and always accurately. 


The Mystery of the Wheelchair

Different Drummers WheelchairDuring pre-production the directors were touring Pratt Elementary School as a possibility for a shooting location (Pratt Elementary was constructed identically to Linwood Elementary where the events portrayed in the movie actually took place in 1965). Pratt was no longer used as a school and many of the rooms were simply used for school district storage space. Since a very important scene in the movie, involving Lyle and David (in a wheelchair) happens to take place in the boys restroom, the directors scouted there as well. They found the room empty except for a 1960s vintage child's wheelchair in perfect condition (pictured to the left) situated in the middle of the floor. Pratt Elementary ended up being the location for all of the school and playground scenes in the movie as well as the production office for the film.

The Dahlke House

Different Drummers In the movie Different Drummers, the original Dahlke house was used for shooting scenes in the basement, hallway, bedroom and swimming pool. Gloria Dahlke, at over 90 years old, had kept the basement the way it was Different Drummers Braydeb Tucker and Ethan McKAyin 1965 and the pool was also maintained. She told the directors she had been waiting for them to come and tell her son's story. She was the source of information for the details about David Dahlke's unusual life, and many of the scenes were written word for word the way they actually happened.





From Celebrities

"Poignant, warm, sad, touching, and totally delightful. If you put this book down, David and Lyle will make you pick it up."

Derek Kavanagh - Producer, Dances With Wolves

· "Your book is a winner!"

Jack LaLanne


From Doctors

· "As a doctor who treats kids on the Autism and ADHD Spectrum, and as another boy who grew up 'hyperactive' in the 1960's, I was impressed with how well "Different Drummers" conveyed what it felt like to experience the world through those eyes.

"Along with the ability to make one laugh, cry, despair, and hope, which marks all great storytelling, "Different Drummers" does as good a job of putting the reader in the shoes of a boy with ADHD as 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night' did for autism.

"This should be requisite reading for anyone who teaches, cares for, is raising, or wants to understand what it feels like to be someone going through the world with that un-requested 'little bit more' that hallmarks people with ADHD."

Dr. James P. Blumenthal, DC, DACBN, FACFN
Brain Performance Center
Applied Kinesiology Center of Los Angeles


· "A must read for anyone working with children with ADD/ADHD. This book gives you an idea of what is going on in the minds of these children and how the behavior directly impacts the lives of family, friends, and teachers. Well written."

Dr. Rachel Oppitz, ND
Itasca Naturopathic Clinic



From Educators

“A must-read for all educators: a colorful and engaging reminder of how recognition of diversity and individual differences can bring out the hidden potential in every child.”

Maxine Davidson, founder Endowed Professorship for Innovative and Creative Curriculum, Eastern Washington University.

“This tale of two disparate classmates magically bonded by their goal to win the school science fair was a deeply humbling reminder of the influence we teachers have on our students’ lives.”

Susan Dolan, Central Valley High School, Media Specialist

“I have never come across such a powerful true tale that exemplifies the resourcefulness, deep love and compassion, and extreme energy that inhabits the souls and characters of our young people.
“Lyle Hatcher and Don Caron have truly captured the reality of the goodness which lives within all of us, if we could only carry that into adulthood, which we come by naturally as youngsters!
“Congratulations! Different Drummers is a must read for all that care about the true meaning of life at its core.”

Tony Lamanna, School Resource Officer, retired


“Many books are written and deserve to be read. In this case it is you that deserves to know this story, you will be better for having read Different Drummers.”

Jean L. Corder, Community Relations Manager, Barnes & Noble Booksellers



News and Reviews



The Dove Foundation Review and Ranking


Suitable for all ages. Faith-friendly
"This is a story of friendship and faith and working toward change. We are pleased to award it our Dove Seal. You will want to walk to the beat of these Different Drummers."  Excerpt from The Dove Foundation Review

The following articles and more can be found on the Different Drummers News Page

"Different Drummer"
Spokane Coeur D'Alene Living (February 01, 2013)
Article by Julie Humphreys

"Different Drummers Being Filmed in Spokane"
KREM TV (October 21, 2012)
News Story on Krem 2 during production of Different Drummers


"Different Drummers in the News"
News page on Different Drummers Website (January 01, 2010)


"Drumming up a book"
Liberty Lake Splash (August 26, 2009)
Article by Hope Brumbach