I was always that kid on the playground who would prefer to watch the other kids than participate in what I would deem to be “dangerous” activities. Some of you would call me a pansy (and so did the other kids #emotionalscars), but I prefer to think of myself as careful; I don’t like taking a step without knowing where my foot is going to land.

Though I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone from time to time, I tend to still feel like that little kid on the playground, watching the other kids take risks. I see them fail, yes, but I also seem them grow and learn and rise above it all.

That’s why I left my life in America and joined the Initiative Production Company at the age of 25.

I was no longer content letting film be something I just dreamed about being a part of in a significant way. I couldn’t let myself sit on the sidelines of my own life and expect everything to just work out on its own.

I had to put some skin in the game; to try, to be vulnerable, put myself out there.

You know, basically the most terrifying things in the world.

That’s why three years later when the creative director of The Initiative, Jason Solari, asked me to be a part of the writing process for our second feature film, The Out of the Woods Project, I agreed to do it.

At this point, I was equal parts elated and terrified. I had never written a feature film before; I didn’t even know if I had it in me.

I’d spent the past three years talking myself into and out of being a filmmaker on a daily basis. The learning curve was too steep, the possibility of failure on an epic scale was larger than anything I had done in the past.

But my choice was the same as it had always been; was I going to watch from the side, or was I going to play?

I chose to play.

I wrote endlessly; periods of quiet panic punctuated by rare moments of perceived genius. I spent more time staring at a blank screen thinking about anything but writing a movie than I care to admit. I remember the first time I let other people read the progress that I had made. It felt like I was awkwardly taking all my clothes off in front of my doctor. This wasn’t just a fun story I was writing with my friends anymore, this was my first major step into my career as a screenwriter.

But where is glory without vulnerability?

Is that not its very definition?

There I was in all my glory, and there was the script in all of hers. I took criticism, I refined characters, I made story changes. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote.

I grew in confidence, made bolder choices, found more grey hair. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote.

Two months and 90 pages later I had finally completed the first draft of The Initiative’s second feature film, and the first draft of any feature film that I had written ever in my life.

I remember handing in the completed draft to Jason in the middle of the night right before I left for vacation.

For one of the first times in my life I was genuinely proud of myself. I had done something I had always wanted to do, and I had done it well.

As I sat on the plane home to visit my family, I remember feeling like I was back on the playground. This time I wasn’t watching the action; I was standing center court, and I had just made a three pointer.


-Brenden Bell

Written for The Initiative Production Company