Based on a True Story

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Gregory has had a hard time promoting his work. So hard, in fact, his cinicism has overcome his entire personality. Just when his life started to pick up a bit, he gets into an accident, changing him forever, and starts off the growth of his fame.

Submitted: November 20, 2015

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Submitted: November 20, 2015

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Based on a True Story

By: Jacob D’Lallo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INT. GREGORY’S ROOM. NIGHT.

A small one room studio apartment is filled to the brim with paper, a blanket (bed area), A refrigerator, a stove, an oven and an art corner consisting of a easel, a desk, a typewriter and paintings wrapped carefully in paper.

Other paintings hang on the walls as displays.

Gregory, a thin man of medium height, with long, oily hair, walks into the room and sits down at the desk and begins to type.  The first words he types are “Based on a True Story By Gregory Mitchell”.

GREGORY (VO)
I thought of a great idea for a play today.  It’ll capture the hearts of millions if done right.  Its market value is through the roof.  All I need to do is have someone read it.  Someone with money.

EXT. PARK. DAY.

The park is cold and grey.  Gregory is perched on a stool with a canvas painting the dead, winter landscape.

GREGORY (VO)
That’s the hardest part for an unknown artist.  We don’t have connections… we don’t know anyone.  And because we don’t know anyone, nobody wants to take a look at anything we do.

EXT. SAN FRANCISCO ACADEMY OF ART. DAY.

GREGORY (VO)
It’s the age of collages.  It’s the dawn of no creative outlook.  It’s sad really.  The people with no creativity and no talent can buy their talent for thirty grand a year then get a job designing websites or logo’s for some unknown beagle shop just opening on 25th and Vine.

Gregory walks past the collage carrying his painting equipment.  

GREGORY (VO)
I’m a high school drop out.  I can’t get a grant or a loan. 

INT. GREGORY’S ROOM. NIGHT.

Gregory’s under the blanket with a lamp on writing in a notepad.

GREGORY (VO)
I’m twenty nine years old, single, and I still can’t find anyone to buy or help sell my art.  Perhaps I’m untalented.  Working on it for so many years and getting no where, I wouldn’t be surprised.

INT. GREGORY’S ROOM. DAY.

Gregory is typing out the script.

The final words typed are “Perhaps popularity amongst the masses was tangible the entire time.  I just took the very long, very hard way to get to it.  Fade to black.  The End.”

GREGORY picks up a tape recorder, hits record and speaks into the microphone.

GREGORY 
Into mic
Now I take it out to my potential investors.  They love it when I bring new works.  They love slamming the door in my face.  Remember when…

The tape stops.  He opens it.  The tape ran out.  He labels the tape “Audio Journal #387, January 15, 2007” then places it in a cabinet with all the others.

He gently staples the script together on the top corner and walks out of the apartment.

INT. TAMMY’S HOUSE. DAY.

There’s a knock at the door.  Jennifer, a spirited ten year old, answers.

GREGORY
Hey, Jenn!

JENNIFER
Hi!

She turns and yells.

JENNIFER
Mom, Greg’s at the door!

TAMMY (OS)
Tell him to come out back for the Barbeque!

JENNIFER
Alright!

GREGORY walks in and pats Jennifer’s head and heads for the back door.

GREGORY
Thanks kiddo.  Whatcha guy’s cooking?

JENNIFER
I don’t know.  Some disgusting carnivore crap.

GREGORY
Well, most people are disgusting carnivores.  Including myself.

JENNIFER
You know that every time you eat just one burger you kill, like, thirty cows from twenty different areas.

GREGORY
I did.  But that’s fast food burgers.  Store ground beef comes from just one.

JENNIFER
Don’t be so sure.

EXT. TAMMY’S BACKYARD. DAY.

The backyard is small and well put together with plenty of plants and decorations.  TAMMY is outside with a couple friends.

GREGORY
To Tammy
Hey.

TAMMY
Hey, Greg!  Greg, you remember Rob and Samantha, right?

GREGORY
Oh, yeah.  Hi.  Nice to see you guys again.

TAMMY
Rob was telling me about how one of his patients threw up all over one of the nurses.

ROB
Well, it was partly her fault for never listening to him.  He’s a paraplegic that has problems communicating.  He was trying to tell her that he felt worse from the night before and that he probably shouldn’t eat.  She had it coming.

SAMANTHA
What a life!  Can you imagine what that man goes through day in, day out?  I don’t think I could do it.

GREGORY
It’s the human condition.  We’re all paralyzed.

GREGORY turns to TAMMY.

GREGORY
Can I speak to you alone for a sec?

TAMMY
Greg.  If it’s about one of your works… you know I can’t help you out.  I’m in a tough financial spot ever since Francis died.

GREGORY
Can’t you just hear me out on this one?  It’s brilliant!  It will make a ton of money!  Just read it and you’ll agree!

ROB
Hey, Greg.  You want a burger!

GREGORY
Yes.  Please.  Everything on it.

GREGORY
To Tammy
This is my meal for the day.

TAMMY
You shouldn’t live like this.  I’ll tell you what.  I’ll recommend you for a reception position down at the hospital.

GREGORY
Tammy, I don’t think you really understand how I feel about my work.

TAMMY
Your passion for the arts exceeds anything I think I will ever feel.  So no, I don’t understand.

ROB hands GREGORY the burger on a plate.

GREGORY
Thanks.

EXT. GREGORY’S ROOFTOP. DAWN.

GREGORY is staring at an empty canvas while overlooking the city.

GREGORY (VO)
I’ve been forced to take a job at the hospital picking up phones all day and talking to people I don’t know or like.  This is my first day.  I’ll try to get some painting done on the roof before I go.

GREGORY packs up the empty canvas and leaves the roof.

INT. HOSPITAL. DAY.

The hospital is bustling with hundreds of sick or injured people.

GREGORY enters the orientation room where there’s a white board, a long fiber wood table and a couple chairs.  There’s four other people there including the instructor.

DR. EDWARDS
And you are?

GREGORY
Um… Gregory Mitchell.

DR. EDWARDS
Alright, Mr. Mitchell, take a seat.  We have already started so you can ask the other’s about what we covered afterward.

GREGORY takes his seat.  The girl next to him gives him a strange look.

GREGORY (VO)
Orientation sucked.  All we do is answer phones, file papers and direct patients to the right rooms.  Supposedly turn over for a hospital reception job in the ER is pretty high, so the doctors don’t even bother to learn your name until you’ve been there for at least four months.  But since I don’t plane on being there that long, I’m not going to worry about it.

INT. TALENT AGENCY. EVENING.

A small clean office with two other people in the waiting room looking at fashion magazines.  GREGORY is called into Mr. Ward’s office, a tall, balding, lengthy man behind a desk.

INT. WARD’S OFFICE. EVENING.

MR. WARD
Look, Gregory, I read the script…  It’s a good piece of work…  You’ve got some talent…  But, have you ever thought of maybe putting it into a book format?  Maybe send it in somewhere as a short story.  People love this kind of thing.  But, as you’re agent, I have to admit, the title has me stumped.

GREGORY
What’s wrong with it?

MR. WARD
It’s called Based on a True Story.  Is the story true?  Has this ever happened to someone?  Because the little twist at the end there, it seems a bit far fetched.

GREGORY
But, it’s still conceivable.  It’s still realistic.

MR. WARD.
Realistic has nothing to do with this industry.  You know that.  It just matters if it’s entertaining.

GREGORY
What about it wasn’t entertaining?

MR. WARD
Look.  I’m not saying it wasn’t entertaining.  I’m just saying that maybe you should try putting it into a different format, one that people could relate to.  And, that you would have better chances of having it made if you change the title.

GREGORY
It could have happened to someone somewhere at some point in time.

MR. WARD
No one will understand it…

GREGORY
It doesn’t matter if people don’t understand it.  It’s supposed to be ironic!  It’s easy to relate to.  Most people can relate to the story so it can easily be based on their own lives.  I mean… fuck… what do I have to do to get one of my dreams done!

MR. WARD
Calm down Gregory!  I don’t want to have to throw you out of the office.

GREGORY takes a couple deep breaths.

MR. WARD
Why don’t you keep painting.  I love you’re paintings.

GREGORY
And you still haven’t gotten me a gallery.

GREGORY gets up and walks out of the room.

INT. HOSPITAL. FILING ROOM. DAY.

GREGORY is filing patient history and charts in a compacted room with one other person.  A short pale girl with long black hair named Joanna.

JOANNA
So… what do you like to do for fun?

GREGORY
I paint.  Write.  All that good stuff.

GREGORY (VO)
There’s a nurse I work with named Joanna.  She’s nice to me, unlike all the others.  She doesn’t give me strange looks.

JOANNA
Really?

GREGORY looks at her and smiles.

GREGORY
Really.

JOANNA
So… there’s a rumor going around.

GREGORY
Whatever it is… it’s not true.

JOANNA
You’re not single?

GREGORY (VO)
We hooked up.

EXT. HOSPITAL ROOFTOP. DAY.

GREGORY and JOANNA are sitting next to the edge admiring the city.

GREGORY (VO)
Life was good for a couple weeks.  Even though work sucked she made it bearable.  She was even interested in my artwork.

JOANNA
What do you see when you look at it?

GREGORY
I see shades of gray.  Shapes.  Colors.  The way they dance in the sky and over the bay is always breathtaking.  Even though I can never capture it the way I see it, I will forever try.

INT. GREGORY’S ROOM. NIGHT.

JOANNA and GREGORY are sleeping under the blanket.  GREGORY is sketching and JOANNA’s reading a book.

JOANNA
I saw your friend Tammy today.

GREGORY
Yeah?

JOANNA
She said she finally wants to read your play.  If it’ll make you talk to her she has no problem reading it.

GREGORY
Did you tell her I wasn’t avoiding her?  That I’ve just been busy?

JOANNA
When am I going to get to read it?

GREGORY smiles at her.

GREGORY
When I think you can handle it.

JOANNA
And, she called you Greg.  I didn’t know you went by Greg.

GREGORY
I only let old friends call me Greg.  From everyone else it’s insulting… like castration.  My parents named me Gregory for a reason, it was my great grandfather’s name, to cut it short would mean I don’t appreciate the person I was named after.  

JOANNA
confused
You’re so melodramatic!

JOANNA leans over and kisses GREGORY.

INT. TAMMY’S HOUSE. DAY.

TAMMY and GREGORY are sitting at the kitchen table with drinks in hand.  GREGORY is looking at her intently as she skims through the script.

TAMMY
I have got to say that I liked it.  The characters.  The situations.  They’re so relatable.  And, you feel so sorry for the main character and everything he has to go through.  How did you come up with it?

GREGORY
Industry secret.

Beat

GREGORY
Are you in?

TAMMY
I don’t know.

GREGORY

I’ve entrusted you with my life here.  If I can’t trust you, who can I trust?

Beat

TAMMY
Alright.  I’m in.

GREGORY smiles and gives her a gigantic hug.

EXT. 7-11. NIGHT.

GREGORY is on a pay phone looking around.

GREGORY
Into phone
Hey, hon.  What is it you wanted?

JOANNA (OS)
Some caramel fudge ice cream.  And, make sure it’s the good brand not that imitation stuff you brought last time.

GREGORY
Into phone
Got it.  I’ll see you when I get there.

GREGORY was about to hang up when he suddenly remembered…

GREGORY
Oh, wait… wait… hun?  You there?

JOANNA (OS)
Yeah.

GREGORY
Did you need any cigarettes?

JOANNA
No.  I’m fine right now.

GREGORY
Alright.  I’ll see you when I get home.

JOANNA
Love you.

GREGORY
Love you, too.  Bye.

GREGORY hangs up the phone and walks inside.

EXT. 7-11. NIGHT

It’s a little later and GREGORY is walking out of the store with a plastic bag, gets on his bike and starts to trek home.

There isn’t much traffic for an offshoot street in San Francisco.

An oncoming car swerves around the opposite corner and t-bones his bicycle sending him over the car in a barrel roll and landing on his head.

The driver stops for a second the peals away.

A pedestrian walking on the opposite corner runs over to him while dialing his cell phone.

PEDESTRIAN TOM
Into cell phone
Hello?  Yes.  My name is Tom Lindberg and I’m standing at the corner of 28th and Vine.  A cyclist just got hit by a car.  No.  It took off.

INT. HOSPITAL ROOM. DAY.

JOANNA and Gregory’s parents, JIM and JUNE are in a room with TAMMY and ROB.  TAMMY, JUNE and JOANNA are all wiping away tears.

ROB
Greg suffered major injuries to his body.  He broke his right leg and left arm, his leg, in three separate areas.

JIM
But, will he be alright?

JUNE
That’s all we really want to know.

ROB sighs.

ROB
I’m afraid he also suffered a massive head injury.  Our best guess is that when he hit it on the pavement he ruptured a blood vessel in his brains left hemisphere, we won’t really know until the swelling goes down.

ROB looks at TAMMY

TAMMY
Uh… Greg may not come out of this they way he was.  People with these kinds of injuries to the head usually come back out with the mental capacity of a child.

INT. HOSPITAL ROOM. DAY.

JOANNA comes into GREGORY’S room.  GREGORY is sitting in a wheelchair by the window looking out with his arm and leg in a casts.

JOANNA tries to put on a fake smile.

JOANNA
Gregory?  Gregory?  It’s me.  It’s Joanna.

GREGORY looks at her with glazed over eyes, smiles and looks out the window.

JOANNA
I brought you a movie you might want to watch.  It’s all about artwork.  It takes you through all the best artwork in history.  You want to watch it?

GREGORY just sits at the window and doesn’t acknowledge her.

JOANNA
Well, it’s here if you want to change your mind.

Beat

JOANNA

Um… You’re mom and dad will be taking you back to their home when you get out of the hospital.

Beat

JOANNA
I’ll visit you every chance I get, alright?

Beat

JOANNA
Alright.

JOANNA puts the movie in the VCR and hits play.  She grabs GREGORY’S wheelchair and moves him to where he can see the television, sits down next to him and holds his hand.

EXT. PARK. DAY.

JOANNA is pushing GREGORY in a wheelchair.

JOANNA
Do you like living back with your parents?  I don’t know what I would do if I had to live with my parents again.  I think it would be pretty rough.  My dad would always yell at me.  My mom would passive aggressively punish me for moving out so early and then having to move back… She’d say she told me so over and over again, I can just hear it.  But, I guess if I was in the situation you were in I’d be happy living anywhere.  As long as the people there loved me, right?

JOANNA stops and turns GREGORY toward the horizon.  GREGORY perks up.

JOANNA
What do you think of the landscape today?  Shades of grey with the sky blue up top and turning white near the horizon.  It’s so beautiful.  I hope you still see it the way you use to see it.

GREGORY smiles.

INT. PARENTS HOUSE. DAY.

JUNE wheels GREGORY into the house and stops to wait for JIM who brings in some boxes on a dolly marked “Greg’s Things”.  JUNE closes the door for him after he enters.

JIM
Well… where do we put all his stuff?

JUNE
I could clear up the room he’ll be staying in.

INT. PERENTS HOUSE. JIM’S ROOM. DAY.

JUNE walks into the room and starts shuffling things around.  She finds a box marked “Greg’s Baby Stuff”.  She puts it down gently and moves on to the next, moving things from one side of the room to the other until she had cleared enough space for GREGORY’S new things.

JUNE leaves the room and comes back with a box.  Opens it and sees a tape recorder and hundreds of labeled tapes.  She reads one that says “March 14th, 2001”.  She puts it into the tape player and hits play.

GREGORY’S voice comes on immediately.

GREGORY (VO)
Today… well, today sucked.  I got into a fight with the girls at the college.  They think they know everything just because they can afford to get an artificially developed database installed in their brains.  But, I have something real… life experience.  They really don’t know shit about art.  They don’t know anything.  When you draw, you don’t just look at the lines… you look at the object.  You look at the soul, the spirit that encompasses that object.  Not literally of course… that’s where imagination comes in.  You need a true, un-bought talent, then you can truly capture the essence of the painting, or sculpture, or sketch, or whatever it is…

JUNE hits stop on the tap recorder, takes the tape out, puts it back in its proper place and leaves the room.

INT. PARENTS HOUSE. DAY.

JUNE walks into the house.  GREGORY is perched next to the window with his casts off.  JIM is watching sports.

JUNE walks over to JIM while watching GREGORY.

JUNE
How is he today?

JIM
An angel as usual.

JUNE
No changes?

JIM
Not a one.

JUNE approaches GREGORY with a smile.

JUNE
Gregory.  Dear?  Can you look at mommy for a second?

GREGORY slowly turns his head and smiles.

JUNE
Gregory.  I got you some paint brushes.  Just like you use to use.  If you want to use them again I can help you.

JUNE places the brushes and paints next to him with a large sheet of paper.

JIM gets up and heads toward JUNE.

JIM
Aw… Hon, don’t tease yourself like this.  He isn’t himself anymore.  

JUNE
Don’t tell me what my son can’t do, Jim.  Don’t you dare!  He may very well still have it in him to communicate to us through what he’s always loved.  

Beat

JUNE walks out of the room into the kitchen and JIM follows her.

GREGORY looks intently at the paint supplies.

JUNE grabs a cup and some juice and drinks.

JUNE
I have read that in some cases people with brain injuries end up communicating in other ways.  There was one woman in New York who could only communicate to her son by singing to him.  That was the only way he could understand her.  It was the only way he could learn.  So, I was thinking that maybe if our little Gregory got the right push he could communicate with us again.

JIM
Hon… those are very rare cases.

JUNE starts walking back to the room where she left GREGORY.

JUNE
Rare or no, it’s worth a shot.  Anything’s worth a shot to get our baby boy ba…

JUNE and JIM stop in their tracks as they see their son painting a perfect picture of the park at a high speed.

JUNE
Oh… Gregory!

INT. PARENTS HOUSE. NIGHT.

JUNE, JIM and bunch of friends are circled around GREGORY watching him paint the wall.

JIM
He just started painting.  He’s painting and painting and painting.  And each time is more exquisite than the last.  

JUNE

We ran out of paper, so we decided to let him use the wall.

JIM
She decided.

LINDA
They are all so perfect.  You should call Oprah or 20/20 or something.

LINDA reaches out to touch the wall but JIM grabs her hand away.

JIM
Don’t touch it.  He starts screaming if you do.  Hard to calm him down after that.

INT. THERAPY. DAY.

A simple room with a small television, a coffee table, a recliner, a couch and a toy box.  

GREGORY is coloring in a picture while JIM and JUNE are talking to the psychiatrist, DR. TIMBERLAND.

DR. TIMBERLAND
I’ve watched Gregory draw and draw and draw.  Each session with him the drawings seem to become more expressive to his psyches needs… the yearnings of his sub-conscience.

DR. TIMBERLAND takes a sip of her tea.

DR. TIMBERLAND (cont.)
But, there’s something troubling me.

JUNE
What is it?

DR. TIMBERLAND
The expressiveness of his artwork, the excruciating details he puts into every aspect of each piece… it just doesn’t seem possible.

JIM
What do you mean?

DR. TIMBERLAND
Well… I couldn’t find anything in the books about a case that showed tendencies that characterize that of an Autistic Savant unless they we born with it.  Being thrown into it after an accident… it just seems very implausible.  

JIM and JUNE look at each other then back at the Doctor.

JUNE
Are you saying our son’s a unique case?

DR. TIMBERLAND
Yes.  Seeing that he already had the god given talent of a true artist it only seems natural that this is the way his subconscious coped with the trauma.  Instead of speaking, he draws.  Most wouldn’t be able to communicate at all.  It’s truly a very remarkable case.  Most would be paralyzed.  You’re son… 

DR. TIMBERLAND looks over at GREGORY and turns back to them almost speechless.

DR. TIMBERLAND (Cont.)
He’s a miracle.

JUNE
I guess… the lord really does work in mysterious ways.

EXT. PARK. DAY.

JOANNA and GREGORY are sitting on the lawn under a tree.  GREGORY is drawing and rocking.

JOANNA
Greg.  I need to tell you something.  
(sigh)  
I know that the doctors are saying that you don’t have the brain capacity you once had… and that it’s hard for you to grasp simple things.  So, if that’s true, I need to leave.  I was only here for you because we were close before the accident… I felt obligated.  It’s hard on me and my relationships to go through this with you.  I don’t think anyone should go through what you have to go through but… I also think it’s unfair for me to be asked to go through it with you.

GREGORY hands her the drawing.  It’s a perfect, more elegant portrait of her.  JOANNA takes it and gasps.

JOANNA
Oh, my god.

JOANNA looks at GREGORY in amazement.

JOANNA (Cont.)
Greg… is this what you’ve always seen?  Is this how you’ve always seen everything.

GREGORY looks up at her and smiles.

JOANNA starts to tear up and tries to hold back from crying, so instead she forces a gentle laugh.

JOANNA
Thank you.

INT. PARENTS HOUSE. DAY.

JUNE and JIM are sitting at the fireplace with GREGORY painting happily without a care of what’s going on around him.  A news crew is set up all around them.  A news reporter, AMANDA FLAGWELL, is speaking to his parents.

AMANDA
(To camera 1)
It’s a rare miracle.  A young man, struck down in his prime, can no longer use most of his brain.  But for what he lacks in social skills and the ability to learn new things, he makes up with an Autistic Savant-esque skill with painting.

AMANDA turns to JUNE and JIM.

AMANDA
(to JUNE)
What was your son like before the accident?

JUNE

Oh… he was… a wonderful boy.  He was working at a doctor’s office.  In fact, it was just when he was beginning to get his life back together when it happened.

JIM
I’d say he was, more or less, a good man.

AMANDA
And, what is it like now that he lives with you and requires all this extra care?

JUNE
We don’t mind at all taking care of our boy.  We love him and we always will, no matter what.

AMANDA
Let’s talk about the artwork.

JIM
OK

AMANDA
I understand that he was an artist before the accident.  What difference do you see in the work now?

JUNE
Oh… it’s much, much more detailed.  He is able to create complex, almost photographs, just from memory.

AMANDA
And, what about this one behind you?  This one seems to be abstract.

JUNE
Oh, yes.  His favorite artwork at the moment is abstract.

AMANDA
And, I understand that you’ll be renting out a gallery in the city to display all his wonderful new artwork.

JIM
Yeah…

JUNE
He’s always wanted a gallery.  I’ve been listening to some of his audio journals and the agent he had before didn’t do it for him.  So, we decided to give it to him… even if he can’t enjoy it right now.

AMANDA
A truly remarkable story.  You can see all of Gregory’s artwork at the Hang art gallery on Sutter Street in San Francisco from the 8th to the 11th.  Back to you in the studio.

INT. HANG ART GALLERY. DAY.

Droves of students flood the gallery to see the, now famous artwork of Gregory Mitchell.

The main exhibit is of Gregory painting on a rather large canvas, a family sitting down at the diner table with the arm of the person to their right on their plate, eating it, and carrying on.

JUNE is sitting in a chair supervising him, smiling at the people walking in and answering their questions.

GIRL
This is turning out to be an interesting piece.  One that really makes you think.

BOY
No it doesn’t.  

GIRL
Sure it does!  I mean, if you think about it, and I mean really think about it, like I’m sure you always do, this is showing us, the average person, that even a retard can see that eating meat is wrong!  It’s like we’re eating our own family.  Our own brothers and sisters on the plates.

BOY

It’s because he’s handicapped that it doesn’t have any meaning.  Probably just a series of images that got jumbled in his head before he started painting.

GIRL
That is why you will never be a real artist.

BOY
Whatever… 

The girl and boy walk away.

JUNE walks up behind GREGORY and gives him a big hug.  

JUNE
Don’t you pay attention to those gawkers.  Like you always said, “when you judge someone’s art you judge that person but you can never see who that person really is until you can appreciate their art.”  Those two didn’t appreciate your art.  So their opinions of you didn’t matter.

JUNE goes back to her seat.

JUNE
Oh… this is so exciting, isn’t it?  All these people coming in and appreciating you, Gregory.  They’re all here to appreciate you!  No one else!  It’s just what you always wanted.

INT. GREG’S PARENTS HOUSE. KITCHEN. DAY.

JUNE and TAMMY are sitting at the table.  GREGORY is in the other room painting and JENNIFER is watching him.

TAMMY
You are so brave to go through all this with Greg.

JUNE
It’s not bravery, dear, it’s love.  If you’re darling little Jennifer, god forbid, ever fell into a similar situation, you wouldn’t even question on weather or not you can handle it.  You’d just do it!

TAMMY
God.  I never thought about that.  I mean, tragedies have struck so many different families that our little home… I never even thought of it.  I guess you never want to put yourself in that situation, so you don’t.

JENNIFER is poking at GREGORY in the other room but he just keeps painting.

TAMMY (Cont.)
I know this is kind of an awkward thing to bring up but, Greg wrote a film before he got into his accident.  I’m sure you know all about it listening to his audio journals.

JUNE
Oh, no.  No.  I’m going in order, from the beginning.  I don’t want to miss out on a single thing he has to say.  But, I never knew my baby was interested in writing anything.  He was always a visual artist.

TAMMY
He did.  He wanted me to give him the money to film it and... I finally got around to reading it.

JUNE
How is it?  Can I read it?

JENNIFER walks into the kitchen and stands there staring at the adults until she can talk.

TAMMY
It’s good.  Good characters.  But, I wouldn’t be much of a friend of Greg’s if I let his audience read the script before opening night.

JUNE
So, you’re doing it then?  You’re going to help my little boy?

TAMMY
Of course!  Well, I wasn’t at first.  I just didn’t have the money.  But, I was convinced it was a good idea after seeing the turnout at the gallery.

JENNIFER
How is he sick.

TAMMY
What, hon?

JENNIFER
I don’t think he’s sick.  He’s not barfing.

JUNE
Oh… oh, darling.  He’s mentally ill now.  He doesn’t have the same way of thinking he use to.

JENNIFER
Is he still the same person?

TAMMY
Of course he’s still the same person.  He always will be.  He’s in there somewhere and only his angel can help him communicate now.

JENNIFER
Angel’s aren’t real, mom.

JUNE
Who on Earth told you that?

JENNIFER
My friend Ginger.  She’s a theist.  She said all the angels went extinct because of man’s blood lust and hunters killed them all then covered it up by saying they were actually the dodos.

TAMMY
I don’t think I like who you’re talking to anymore.

JENNIFER
But, it’s all true.  Her mom said so, too!

TAMMY
Those crazy bi… when it’s their kids they get all bent out of shape when we even mention the names God or Jesus, they’ll fight to get it under control but when it’s our kids they’ll say whatever the hell they want, won’t they?

TAMMY gets up and grabs JENNIFER.

TAMMY (Cont.)
Get your coat young lady.  You’re going to show me where this Ginger lives.

JUNE
I can’t wait to see the film.

TAMMY
I can’t wait to let you see it.

TAMMY and JENNIFER leave the house.

JUNE
(To GREG)
You hear that sweetheart?  Everyone’s going to hear what you have to say!

GREG globs another brush of paint onto his canvas.

INT. GREGORY’S BEDROOM. NIGHT.

JUNE tucks GREGORY into his bed.  Kisses him on the forehead and sits on the side of the bed.  She reaches into her pocket and pulls out a flask and takes a swig.

JUNE then moves to the closet and pulls out the cassette player and the next tape.  Puts it in and presses play.

TEENAGE GREGORY (VO)
I was listening to Marilyn Manson today.  His words speak to everyone else, but I just don’t get it.  He’s not actually trying to get a message across and if he is it’s completely lost on me.  Perhaps I’m just dumber than everyone else.  I can’t follow along with the new fads no matter how hard I try to convince myself that it’s cool.

JUNE strokes GREGORY’S hair while he sleeps.

TEENAGE GREGORY (VO)
Eventually I’ll get it.  I’ll understand everything that’s going on around me.  I’ve decided to watch them… you know… so I can copy them.  So I can fit in.  It’ll be fine.  No one will really notice anyway, that’s how it always is.  No one ever notices me.

INT. THEATRE. DAY.

TAMMY is helping out with set design.  Some techies are running around.

TAMMY
(To Markus)
How’s the casting coming along?

MARKUS
It’s going great.  I’ve just got a few things against with what we’re saying in some of these lines in the script.  I think we should bring in a writer for a re-write.

TAMMY
What?  No.  We can’t do that.

MARKUS
It’s just that… I don’t want our target audience to get alienated because of the writer’s personal opinions.  This is theatre after all.  Most of our audience will be pissed.  They’ll all think he’s a right wing, nut job!

TAMMY
Well… this is “based on a true story”, right?  It doesn’t matter what they believe.  If we did a play about Hitler we shouldn’t change his beliefs just because it’ll offend a few people in the crowd.  It’s history.  You can get away with it if it’s history, right?

MARKUS throws his arms up.

MARKUS
Alright.  Alright…

MARKUS goes over to a table with two other people sitting there watching him and TAMMY.

MARKUS
I’m sorry.  No changes.  We’ll have to actually find some actors that don’t care about spreading this pretentious ass's personal opinions.

JENN
Well, then cross off our top five.  They all made a hissy fit about the remarks about the college students.

MARKUS
You stay right here with the next audition, I’ll go make more copies of the non-disclosure agreement… some of these actors might run their mouths off to the press.

INT. GREGORY’S BEDROOM. NIGHT.

JUNE takes out the tape and puts in another.  Hit’s play.

INT. THEATRE. DAY.

Actors are on stage rehearsing their lines with scripts in hand, while JENN periodically comes up and redirects their stage positions.

TEENAGE GREGORY (VO)
No one ever agrees with me.  So, I’m going to have to find a way to agree with them... right?  I don’t think I should have to change my opinions just to be accepted in a group, even if it’s a group that claims to be tolerant.  

INT. THEATRE. DAY.

Costumes are being fitted.

TEENAGE GREGORY (VO)
So what if my words aren’t as powerful as the asshole with the flyer?  So what if I don’t convince fifty or so other people that they should take up picket signs for my cause?  Does that mean I’m wrong?  Does that mean no one should listen to what I have to say?

INT. THEATRE. NIGHT.

Dry run.

TEENAGE GREGORY (VO)
If I were to die tomorrow and my sketches were the only things that people could remember me with, what would they say?  What would they think I thought?  I don’t think they’d put too much thought into them.  

EXT. THEATRE. DAY.

A news reporter is showing that the film opening in two nights is a one written by, none other than, Gregory Mitchell, before his accident.

TEENAGE GREGORY (VO)
I’m an unknown.  My mom would probably pack them away somewhere in a closet and look at them when she thinks she’s being sneaky… and she’ll probably drink while she’s looking at them.

INT. THEATRE. NIGHT.

Opening night.  A line floods the box office and proceeds to fill the theatre seats.

TEENAGE GREGORY (VO)
How can I leave my legacy as an artist?

JENN and MARKUS walk onto center stage and the audience chatter fades to a hush.

JENN
I would first like to say that I’m very proud with the work put behind this play.

MARKUS
When our executive producer, Mrs. Tammy Yung, a close friend of the artist Gregory Mitchell…

The audience applauds.  JUNE and JIM are in the front row, JUNE being almost overly excited.

MARKUS
When she came up to us and asked if we’ll direct a film written by him.  We didn’t hesitate to say yes.

JENN
And, of course we have the writer himself backstage… he’ll be making a special appearance after the show.

Audience applauds.

MARKUS
Thank you and enjoy.

MARKUS and JENN both walk off stage right and the lights go down.

A single actor, about medium height, dressed in all black, walks out onto the screen with a few pieces of backdrop silhouetted by a light blue glow.

ACTOR 1
Hello, my name is Gregory Mitchell and I’m an unknown.  My purpose here is to convey that what you’re about to see right here, on this stage, is completely fictitious.  I know, I know, opening dialogs can be rather daunting if not started off with a bang, and you’re probably thinking to yourself, “did he just say fictitious?  Isn’t this ‘Based on a True Story’?”  Keeping in mind that I did indeed tell you it’s fictitious, please, pay close attention to all the detail or else be left out of the loop.

The back lights come up and ACTOR 1 fades into the backdrop at his desk where he begins to type up a few lines.

The play progresses, it shows ACTOR 1 in the park painting and talking to the audience, then in an office yelling at a bald actor, then in a bed talking to a female actor reading a book.

The audience begins to whisper and gossip as ACTOR 1 gets hit by a car and loses all brain function in a hospital room.  ACTOR 1 begins painting master pieces as other actors speak snobbish remarks about them.

ACTOR 1
Perhaps popularity amongst the masses was tangible the entire time.  I just took the very long, very hard way to get to it.  

The lights dim and the audience doesn’t applaud.

Beat

The audience begins to rustle around in there seats.  There is no appearance from anyone.  The audience is left with a failed promise of meeting Gregory.

Beat

A man runs up to the center of the stage with a microphone.

THEATRE GUY
Ladies and gentlemen... uh... everyone involved in the film seems to have left the building.

The audience starts making a racket.

THEATRE GUY
They did, though… uh… give me a few things to give to each person in this room.  Each ticket stub has a number and if you go to the website… uh… W-W-W dot Based on Gregory dot com, you can enter that number and receive a free sketch from the artist himself.  

People begin getting up and vacating the seating area.

THEATRE GUY
On your way out you can pick up some free chocolate from the big basket in the lobby.

INT. TAMMY’S NEW HOUSE. KITCHEN. DAY.

TAMMY
I have got to say that I liked it.  The characters.  The situations.  They’re so relatable.  And, you feel so sorry for the main character and everything he has to go through.  How did you come up with it?

GREGORY
Industry secret.

Beat

GREGORY
Are you in?

TAMMY
I don’t know.

GREGORY
I’ve entrusted you with my life here.  If I can’t trust you, who can I trust?

Beat

TAMMY
Alright.  I’m in.

GREGORY
Perfect!  I know a guy who can drive the car.

TAMMY
I can convince Rob to play along in the doctor report.  

GREGORY
I’m just going to feel sorry for my parents the most…  And, Joanna.  

TAMMY and GREGORY are both feasting on an elaborate dinner as the news caster on the television in the other room is speaking.

NEWS ANCOR
In entertainment news, the art world is infuriated today because all the shows of artist Gregory Mitchell’s “Based on a True Story” have been canceled.  The theatre manager said he had no idea the cast and crew were planning to only do one show then disappear.  We did, however, receive an E-Mail from someone claiming to be Gregory Mitchell himself stating that he takes full responsibility for the publicity stunt and that none of the cast or crew should be ridiculed because of something he did.  He said that if the audience really wants to see it again, he’s sure the director would be happy to set up further shows.  He also states that he is doing well, he never had a head injury and would like to apologize to the world for being so dramatic; he just wanted to be heard.

TAMMY leans over to him and snickers.

TAMMY
It looks like the world is still demanding Gregory Mitchell originals.  I thought for sure the fraud would have pushed them away.

She takes a bite.

GREGORY
Well… I suppose… Wait… How does it go?

He stops and thinks for a second and TAMMY gets wide eyed.

TAMMY
(Half laughing)
No!  Don’t you say it!  

GREGORY
What!?

TAMMY
Don’t act like you predicted everything exactly!

GREGORY
(Smiling)
If I don’t say it, there will be an end, and the loop can’t continue.  It’s almost a spiritual thing.

TAMMY
Fine… say it.

GREGORY clears his throat.

GREGORY
Perhaps popularity amongst the masses was tangible the entire time.  I just took the very long, very hard way to get to it.  

Beat

TAMMY
Fade to black… The end.

GREGORY
Thanks for ruining my spiritual moment.

They both laugh as the sun begins to set and the moon begins to rise.

EXT. SAN FRANCISCO ACADEMY OF ART. NIGHT.

A boy, with nothing but a backpack and a sketchpad, looks up at the sign.  He’s angry.  He’s slender, rough around the edges, messy hair… his hygiene looks like it could use some work.

TEENAGER (VO)
I was told I was one of the most gifted individuals they had ever seen.  And my skill naturally surpassed most of the instructors.  But, they refused me because I didn’t have the passing grades in high school.  I don’t have the money either.  Even if I got a job now, I don’t think I’d ever be able to pay.  I hitchhiked three hundred miles to get here.  Now, I’m broke and homeless.  Real artists don’t pay for their talent anyway.  Maybe there’s another way to get my art noticed.  If I think hard enough, I’m sure it’ll come to me.

The boy walks quickly away from the building.

Fade to black.

The end.


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