Heart, Baby! -
based on a true story.
Heart, Baby! is the TRUE STORY of George and Doc, best friends from reform school to life in prison where George becomes an unbeatable prison boxer, with songwriter Doc as his cornerman and Crystal, his devoted Christian Transgender cellmate. When George is offered freedom to fight in the 1984 Olympics he shocks everyone by turning it down, sending Doc, Crystal, and other inmates on a journey to discover the true meaning of friendship, faith, and heart.
In 2010, Angela Shelton was on stage speaking at a 140 Conference hosted by Jeff Pulver (co-founder VONAGE), sharing healing techniques for moving on from traumas like domestic violence and child sexual abuse and Doc Dixon was there sharing ways to begin prison reform. Angela and Doc met and became instant friends. While on a road trip later that year with her high school sweetheart and soon-to-be husband, Angela stopped to stay with Doc and his wife, Linda. The four stayed up drinking wine and listening to Doc’s prison stories.
As Doc shared about how he went into prison in 1978 and ran into his best friend from reform school there and they instantly struck up their bond again, Shelton was enthralled with the story of loyalty. Doc told how his friend George had become an unbeatable boxer inside, winning every fight he ever fought. When inmates and admins would ask how he did it, he would hit his chest and say, “I got Heart, Baby!”
As Shelton listened to Doc’s story of George knocking out every boxer in the ring with him, including free world champs, and then being offered a chance at the Olympics and turning it down, Shelton was riveted. But when Doc told her the reason George turned it down, describing the love her had for Crystal, Shelton said this had to be a movie and it needs to be called, “HEART, BABY!”
At the end of Doc’s long story, the four friends were crying into the drinks as Doc told how George had become very ill and been given a compassionate release to get out of prison to die. With tears streaming down their eyes, they toasted to the memory of George and Crystal and Shelton insisted that this really did need to be a movie. Doc agreed that it would be a good movie and said that only Angela could make it.
Armed with the rights to his story, Shelton began research on the true facts, making sure she could legally write about the real people in the story. Five years later, she had begun raising the finances, had done the legal research and was ready to begin. Shelton says, “I had to make this movie. It woke me up at night, it pulled at my gut, poked at me incessantly, slapped me in the face, until I sat up in bed one morning in early 2015 with the determination that now was the time.”
Shelton had Doc come to her house and read the first draft while she stared at him and they both cried. She kept Doc on the phone after that constantly being sure that all of prison terms and history were correct. She says she went through prison university during the writing phase, learning more than she was prepared for, which made her fall even more in love with people who lived this story.
While in pre-production, the filmmakers couldn’t find George’s death certificate for insurance purposes so they hired a private investigator to help them search deeper and discovered that he was alive! Prison doctors had misdiagnosed him. He did not have AIDS, he had Hep C, and is very much alive. Crystal had gotten AIDS from sharing her needles, not from sex since she was a devout Christian and had always been monogamous with George.
George and Doc were reunited just in time for filming so Shelton wrote them both parts in the movie. They play the counselor and the officer who let George out of prison and once you know the truth behind that scene, you understand why they have tears in their eyes as they watch the actors playing them say their final goodbye.
George is also not gay. As he will tell you, he was in love with a woman - which is a brain twister for some and an education on “trans”. He is now married to a woman and has five kids. Since boxing was an outlet that helped George stay sane on the inside, he has started training young kids in his town in an effort to give them an outlet that keeps them off the streets and out of a life of crime. He cannot get a loan to start a bigger gym since he is a felon so he trains out of his garage. The Heart, Baby! Production has set up a Go-Fund-Me page that does directly to George’s bank account set up to solely to raise money for his gym.
When Doc got out of prison years after George, thinking his best friend had long passed away, he married the love of his life, Linda. Together they are working in the prison reform movement with the goal of turning prisons into healing centers. They have written a book and travel the country speaking about Felonism.