Is Mending the Line Movie a True Story? What's Real Vs. Fake

By Gillian Blum Posted:
Mending the Line poster, Brian Cox and Sinqua Walls

Mending the Line, a recent drama starring Brian Cox and Sinqua Walls, just made its Netflix debut, leaving many wondering about where its true story originated from.

Telling a post-war military story, the movie was written by Stephen Camilo. It debuted in various film festivals in 2022, before seeing a theatrical release the next year.

The movie has themes of survivor's guilt and PTSD directly alongside the power of strong bonds and hope.

What In Mending the Line Is True?

Brian Cox and Sinqua Walls in Mending the Line movie
Mending the Line

While Mending the Line tells a realistic story, it is not based on true events. However, it does have real-life influences.

Speaking with Flylords in 2022, writer Stephen Camilo revealed that the story was inspired by his father, who survived service in Vietnam but developed cancer due to exposure to Agent Orange during his time fighting.

Camilo told Flylords that his goal was to create a story merging "the destructive elements of war with the healing aspects of nature," and later learned about organizations "using fly fishing to heal," like is shown in the movie:

"My father was in the Army and fought in Vietnam. And though he survived the war, in 2004 he was diagnosed with cancer caused by Agent Orange exposure during his time in the war. Around that time, my wife and I had moved from New York City to Montana and we were living and working in Yellowstone National Park I was writing about fly fishing for various publications. When he passed in 2013, the meditative nature of fly fishing really helped me deal with my grief and I had the idea to write a story that combined the destructive elements of war with the healing aspects of nature. It wasn’t until later that I found out about organizations like Warriors & Quiet Waters and others that were actually doing this in real life – using fly fishing to heal."

He later explained that Mending the Line "is a very personal story for everyone involved," as many have experience with or around military service, and are (or know people who are) "dealing with the trauma" that comes with it.

Camilo said that many of them found that fly fishing "started the healing process and allowed them to find peace," as it did for the characters in the movie:

"This is a very personal story for everyone involved. The sheer act of writing was an exercise in healing as it helped me process my father’s death and understand my mother’s pain as well as the courage she has shown to carry on since his passing. Almost everyone associated with this film had a similar story. Some served in the military themselves or know someone dealing with the effects of going to war. Others lost loved ones and are still dealing with the trauma. Then there were those who, like the main characters of the story, dealt with their trauma through fly fishing, which started the healing process and allowed them to find peace. We hope by telling this story it will also be an inspiration for those still dealing with PTS or any type of trauma to start their healing journey. Whether they do it with a fly rod in their hand or not, that’s up to them."

Director Joshua Caldwell told ScreenRant that as a fly fisherman himself (like Camilo), "it was super important that we got this aspect of the movie correct." This marked another element of the movie based in real life:

"I'm a fly fisherman, and Stephen Camelio, who wrote the movie, is a fly fisherman. For us, it was super important that we got this aspect of the movie correct. Because, if you don't, you're missing out on a tremendous opportunity to involve that community, and get the support of that community. If you mess it up, they're not going to come support the film. I really wanted it to be a high-level portrayal of fly-fishing."

So while the specific story of John Colter's experience with war, PTSD, and fly fishing is not true in its entirety, it comes from elements of real life that informed the narrative.

Mending the Line is available to stream on Netflix.

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- About The Author: Gillian Blum
Gillian Blum has been a writer at The Direct since 2022, reporting primarily from New York City. Though she covers news from across the entertainment industry, Gillian has a particular focus on Marvel and DC, including comics, movies, and television shows. She also commonly reports on Percy Jackson, Invincible, and other similar franchises.