The character of "Freddie" was based on a real life street kid, named Lulu. Lulu was featured in the documentary Streetwise, and just like Freddie, she stood up for other street kids. Lulu was stabbed to death after Streetwise filmed, her funeral was covered by CNN and over 200 people attended.
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The story is based on the relationship between a young runaway in the 1980s named Dewayne and his father who was incarcerated for robbery and attempted arson. They can both be seen in the 1984 documentary, Streetwise, which focuses on several of Seattle's runaway youth in the 1980s. Dewayne committed suicide at the age of 14. The story was later developed by Peter Silverman. Martin Bell, Mary Ellen Mark. Then, Silverman and Bell wrote the screenplay.
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The apartment building Jack Kelson and his son lived in was presented as Queen Anne Hill in the movie. In actuality, the movie was filmed in an apartment building on Capitol Hill in Seattle, on the 1700 block of Summit Avenue North
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Eddie Bunker was hired as an on-set adviser for Jeff Bridges.
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The film only had a very limited theatrical release.
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The character of Lisa was based on real life Seattle street kid Tiny (Erin Blackwell). She was featured in the documentary Streetwise. The part where Lisa approaches a john in a red car, then directs a fellow street kid to get in, was based on a john caught on camera picking up Tiny, where she immediately put her head down in his lap.
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During filming, a tarp accidentally came loose and blew into a power line, resulting in a power outage to an entire apartment block.
Jack's parole officer who's name is Normandy, tells him "15 will get him 20". This is an actual quote uttered by Lulu in "Streetwise", the documentary this film is based on.
In one scene, Jack asks to see his son's arms, to check if he's been shooting up. This is something Dwayne's father did to him in real life, while Dewayne was visiting him in Prison.
The wine that Jack and Charlotte drink in the taxi car is Pouilly-Fuissé, which is a white wine.
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Twelve lobby cards were released in Spain upon the films release. They measure 9.4 x 13.4 inches (24x34 cm) each.
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