Script File

Wheels Up

Wheels Up is a story based on improbable true events.

Shane Tillman is a hard-working 14-year-old who lives at a homeless shelter with his dad. He and his dad have made a life of hitchhiking and staying in missions. During one trip across country they wind up in a small midwestern town.

To make ends meet, Shane works as a busboy and he and his dad scavenge for copper wire amid the rubble in demolition sites. Shane also scrounges for cigarette butts so that his dad can roll cigarettes from the leftover tobacco. The only time Shane finds any relief from his solemn life is when the carnival comes to town. The carnival also brings a stranger from Shane’s past, and a chance to escape.

Shane allows himself to get lost in the allure of the carnival. When he first arrives he’s distracted by the flashing lights, the smells of sweet food, and the sounds of the games, and people laughing and having fun. He doesn’t notice that he’s pushed into a different line, and into a fateful meeting with someone he never thought he’d see again. When he reaches the window he realizes he’s seen the person selling tickets before. He met her -- for the first time -- five years earlier, and a thousand miles away. It’s his mom, Geena.

Shane spends every minute that he’s not working, or sleeping, at the carnival getting to know Geena, and getting pulled deeper under the carnival’s spell. Geena seems like the doting mother he’s never had. And the carnival seems like a place that’s fun, where people seem happy. It’s very different from his life at the mission with his dad.

When Travis finds out that Geena is in town, he confronts Shane during an shocking outburst at the carnival. When Travis threatens to abandon Shane at the fairgrounds, Geena sees an opportunity to start a new life with her son.

  • Duane Tollison
  • Robert K. Benson
  • Project Type:
    Screenplay, Short Script
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Language:
  • First-time Screenwriter:
  • Student Project:
  • Artist's Alliance Short Screenplay Contest

    May 20, 2017
    Honorable Mention
  • ScreenCraft Spring Short Film Production Fund

    August 3, 2017
  • Oxford Film Festival

    October 12, 2017
  • Golden Script Competition

    July 10, 2018
    Finalist Short Screenplay
  • Fimmatic Drama Screenplay Awards

    June 15, 2019
Writer - Duane Tollison, Robert K. Benson