Prison Break actor Lane Garrison, out of jail after serving time for vehicular manslaughter, is taking on a project about troubled teens and the redemptive power of football.
Garrison is writing the screenplay for One Heart, the true story of a football team from the Gainesville (Texas) State School that's made up of kids convicted of crimes involving drugs, violence and robbery. After a 2008 season in which they lost every game and were outscored 300-14, the Tornadoes went on the road to play Faith Christian School, whose coach mobilized his community so that the town cheered not for his Faith Lions but for Gainesville. For the first time, the players felt like a team and not the sum total of their crimes.
Dallas-based producer Steve Riach is spearheading the project, and aims to capitalize on the success of the football-themed movie The Blind Side, which is also based on a true story and has become a hit in the U.S., especially in the South.
Garrison was shuttled through eight prisons and got a good look at thousands of inmates during his 18 months in jail. After he was released in April on good behavior, he learned about the Gainesville story from friends.
I was moved to tears, Garrison said, because I knew who those kids were because I was one of them. I knew what it was to be locked away and feel hopelessness and feel like, 'Will I ever have another redeeming quality; will I have a second chance? '
Riach, co-CEO of Eterne Films, was a parent at the school that played Gainesville State School and realized he was witnessing a story that could translate to a feature. Garrison met with the producers and convinced them that his background -- not only the prison term but experience playing high school football in Dallas -- made him the best candidate to write the screenplay.
The producers are now cobbling together financing. They are talking to Dallas Cowboys players and coaches to be involved either as investors or promotional partners and have secured permission to shoot in the locations in which the events took place.
For Garrison, who is in rehab, the project is more than a simple screenwriting job. To me, it was like, 'Here was this project for you to write; you are supposed to tell this story because you lived it.