The Chelsea Projects

Institute History

  • 1993 June Screenwriters Lab


Janet Webster, 32, has just moved back into her mother's home in a New York housing project. She tried living on her own but didn't feel ready for independence from her over-bearing mother, Delores.

Janet works as a dispatcher for the Auto Club, a mundane job kept interesting by the provocative stories about love and romance told to her by friend and coworker Glenda. Glenda's about to marry Michael, a tow truck driver.

At Michael and Glenda's wedding, Janet is approached by George. He too works for the Auto Club as a tow truck driver. He asks Janet to dance, but she refuses as she is painfully shy and more comfortable sitting quietly with her mother and various friends and relatives.

Janet's closest friend is her cousin, Arthur, who lives with his younger brother Steven and their mother Annie in the same housing project.

When Arthur is tragically killed in a car accident, Janet reacts powerfully and reevaluates her life. She accepts a date with George and spends the night with him. She announces to a furious Delores that she'll be moving into a place of her own. And most importantly, she tells Delores that she no longer believes that there is anything wrong with her. Since childhood, Janet has been told that a bad blow to the head has made her sickly, fragile, and different. Janet now refuses to believe that she's any less of a person, any less deserving of happiness than the rest of the world. With this newfound strength, she's ready to move away from home. When Delores warns Janet that George has a child from a previous marriage, Janet is shocked.

Janet confronts George, who happily takes Janet to meet his young daughter, Sheila. Sheila's mother is dead, and Sheila's been staying with an Aunt until George can give her a "proper" home. He wants Janet to be a part of that home, to have more children together and be a family. Janet is flattered but realizes that she's never been on her own, and, in order to be a part of any relationship, she must first spend time getting to know herself. She takes an apartment by herself and sets out to discover who she is and to realize her full potential. When cousin Steven asks her how her new place is, she tells him it's only a few blocks from the old neighborhood, but it feels like a whole new world has just begun for her.


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