Disturbing post-apocalyptic thriller The Divide follows a group of survivors trapped in a fallout shelter, and chronicles their loss of humanity as supplies become scarce. During a recent telephone interview, director Xavier Gens tells us that he made the decision to shoot the film in chronological sequence in order for the performances of his cast to follow the evolutions of their characters, a decision that led to some real-life tensions on the set of the film.
“We shot in Winnipeg, and you have nothing to do except shoot your movie,” Gens says with a chuckle. “It’s a very cold place, and there aren’t a lot of attractions. The only thing you have to do is shoot your movie, 12 hours a day, maybe more. Unfortunately, some conflict would arise from that way of working, but that conflict was necessary for the performances in the film.”
The Divide may have been helmed by Gens, but the director is quick to praise his talented cast for bringing so many ideas to the table during the course of the production. “I gave them a lot of freedom, a lot of space to try new things,” Gens says. “At the beginning, the script was 90 pages long, and at the end we finished at 117 pages, so you can imagine all the stuff the actors bring to the story.”
One of the most harrowing scenes in the film takes place when Sam (Iván González) attempts to gain access to a hidden weapon, only to be discovered by Bobby (Michael Eklund) and forced into a compromising position. “The scene is eighty percent improv,” Gens admires. “All the dialogue is improv, nothing was written before, and it’s because they were totally into their characters.”
The cast of The Divide is an eclectic mix of cult cinema icons such as Michael Biehn and Rosanna Arquette, and talented young actors including Milo Ventimiglia, who many viewers will recognize from his starring role in NBC’s Heroes, a role which heavily influenced the director’s decision to cast him as the film’s villain.
“It was interesting to have Milo Ventimiglia playing that part,” Gens says, chuckling once more. “Because he’s Peter Petrelli, and Peter Petrelli becoming a monster did some interesting things for me.”
The director has seen his share of controversy, having been dismissed from 20th Century Fox’s Hitman during the editing process due to creative differences with the studio, but is very pleased with the distribution deal he received for The Divide, which afforded him the opportunity to release his original cut of the film.
“It was a dream to work with Anchor Bay,” Gens says enthusiastically. “As a studio, you never ask a director to add twenty minutes to a film, but they did it. They gave me so much freedom and such a great opportunity, and I’ve thanked them a thousand times. It’s just a dream to work with a company like that.”
The Divide is currently available as a Blu-Ray/DVD combo from the Nerd Repository Store.