Is The Call (2013) Based on A True Story?

Acclaimed indie director Brad Anderson helmed the 2013 psychological thriller ‘The Call,’ a film about a 9-1-1 telephone attendant at “The Hive” and her quest to save a kidnapping victim. After a tragedy at the workplace, Jordan switches to being an instructor. However, after overhearing a distress call that reminds her of the past, Jordan must take decisive action.

Following its release, the female-centric movie garnered praise from critics and fans, thanks to its taut storytelling and production value, despite its modest budget. But the suspense-filled narrative reflects some truth. Is it because the storyline is ripped from newspaper headlines? Let us find out!

Is The Call Based on a True Story?

No, ‘The Call’ is not based on a true story. While the movie realistically portrays the high-voltage ambiance of the Communication Dispatch Center, or “The Hive,” the specifics of the storyline remain fictional. Brad Anderson directed the film from a screenplay penned by Richard D’Ovidio, who began his screenwriting career with the 2001 movie ‘Exit Wounds.’ Richard D’Ovidio teamed up with his wife Nicole D’Ovidio and Jon Bokenkamp to envision the story. The story’s idea was conceived when Nicole D’Ovidio came across an interview of a 9-1-1 operator on the radio.


The D’Ovidio couple thought that the topic would make a killer premise for a movie, as it was a profession rarely touched upon in cinemas. Embarking on research, Richard visited the Los Angeles Metropolitan Communications Dispatch Center (MCDC). The hectic environment of the office fascinated him, and it laid down the basics of the film’s storyline. Following the premise, he needed the characters. Richard chose two strong-willed women as he considered them a rarity in cinema. Since most people working in the dispatch center were women, the choice also made sense realistically.

By making Jordan walk out of her comfort zone to help Casey, the screenwriter achieved exciting rhetoric of female empowerment. In turn, ordinary women become superheroes in the movie. But showing only one perspective would narrow down the scope of the narrative. Thus, he worked two characters – the caller and the operator – into the script. As per sources, the writers originally conceptualized ‘The Call’ as a television show, with the working title ‘The Hive.’ The fictional name, which they came up with on their own, referred to the constant ringing and buzzing of the MDMC office.

However, Richard later scrapped the idea of a TV show, reasoning that the operators could not involve themselves in field cases every time they got a distress call. Therefore, he expanded the pilot episode that he wrote as a feature-length foray. Other than Nicole and Jon Bokenkamp, he also considered inputs from Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin, and Michael Eklund, who take up the roles of Jordan, Casey, and Michael, respectively.


As a writer, Richard believes in collaboration, and he contended that he was happy to include some great suggested lines of dialogue. Morris Chestnut, who plays the role of Officer Phillips, embarked on his own research to give the part a real makeover. The study took him to a squad car of the Los Angeles Police Department, where he observed the immediacy of the police action.

On the other hand, Halle Berry visited a dispatch center to get a hands-on experience with the operators. The stressful situation and the way it was handled fascinated the actress, as the profession does not usually get the spotlight. She contended that she could never do such a job – although she convincingly pulled off the acting part with a broad spectrum of emotions. After considering all these aspects, we can confidently say that the movie remains fictional, but its realism is penetrating.

Read More: The Call Ending, Explained