Set in the U.S. Civil War period, Divided We Fall is a classic indie film that not only won numerous awards, but also helped launch the careers of many people currently in the film industry. The film depicts two brothers who fight on opposites sides and end up meeting in battle. The film was made without on camera dialogue from the actors, only a voice over for narration. The narration helps set the stage for audiences who are able to see themselves in the film and live the actually events as if they are unfolding in front of them. With no dialogue, the film also played well for international audiences as there was no language barrier.
So what makes this film so special? Well, first, it was written and directed by Kevin Meyer and Jeff Burr as their final student project while attending USC. Actors John Agar and R.A. Mihailoff were also involved in the project. The film is considered one of the most decorated films in the history of USC Cinema and was also an Official Representative of the United States in International Competition, having won the Cine Eagle and being recognized by President Ronald Reagan. The 30 minute film won a total of 14 film festival awards. The film has become so popular within the film world that a documentary about how the film was made is currently being produced (at that time film was still a medium and was physically shot, developed and cut from a negative as opposed to current digital technology).
“USC had a run time limit of only 15 minutes,” said Kevin Meyer. “Jeff and I actually broke into the USC lab and took the film to an independent lab in Colorado. The lab was kind enough to donate time to finish the film to its 30 minute length. We got the backing of our professor [Ken Robinson] who backed us with the faculty.” Not a bad job for a final film project for Meyer and Burr who also graduated with a class that included Jay Roach (Austin Powers), Robert Rodat (Saving Private Ryan), Kevin Reynolds (Waterworld) and Kirk Ellis (John Adams TV Miniseries).
So where did they all end up?
Burr brought you many horror films such as Texas Chainsaw Massacre III and Night of the Scarecrow. In addition to awards for Divided We Fall, he also was nominated for an International Fantasy Film Award for Texas Chainsaw Massacre III from Fantasporto and won an Indie Memphis Competition for the movie Broke Sky from the Memphis Indie Film Festival. Other hit films he is responsible for include the Devil’s Den, The Boy With The X-Ray Eyes, American Hero, and Land of the Lost (TV Series).
Meyer went on to write and direct many featured films including the 1995 award-winning film Perfect Alibi starring Teri Gar, Hector Elizondo, and Alex McArthur. His award list includes 1984 Gold Award from the World Fest Houston and a 1986 Student Award from the Canadian International Film & Video Festival for his student film Divided We Fall. Additional awards included a 1990 Bronze Award for the movie Across Five Aprils from World Fest Houston, a 1991 Bronze Award for Across Five Aprils from the Western Heritage Awards, and a 1994 Gold Award for Perfect Alibi from World Fest Charleston. He also wrote A Smile Like Yours which had a $35Million budget from Paramount and starred Greg Kinnear (As Good As It Gets & Little Miss Sunshine) and Lauren Holly (Dumb & Dumber, CSI Miami & NCIS).
Mihailoff is the character that you want to forget. He is burned in audience’s minds as Leatherface from Texas Chainsaw Massacre III. In addition to his performance as Leatherface, he had many roles in television including on Highway to Heaven, Full House, and the 1995 film Stripteaser.
While Divided We Fall did not launch his career, it was epic to have someone as popular as him participate in a USC student film. Passed away in 2002, Agar starred in many films dating back to 1948. His career included six movies with John Wayne (Fort Apache, Sands of Iwo Jima, Big Jake, Chisum, The Undefeated, and She Wore A Yellow Ribbon). He is also mentioned in the song The Radio Is Broken by Frank Zappa.
William E. Pugh:
William Pugh played a slave in the film Divided We Fall. The film was seen by Steven Spielberg who was so impressed with Pugh that he cast him as the husband to Oprah Winfrey’s character in The Color Purple. The rest is history as he has had a career to brag about. In addition to his appearances on many television shows such as NYPD Blue and Martin, he has starred in many notable films including Air Force One and Kings of the Evening. He also has two movies in post-production, McTaggart’s Fortune and Making Change, which will be out in 2013.
Divided We Fall Award List:
1983 – IFPA (Independent Film Producer’s Assoc) “Gold Cindy”
1984 – “Cine Eagle” – Washington D.C.
1984 – USA Film Festival – “Finalist”
1984 – Huy International Film Festival (Belgium) – Grand Prize – “Palm d’Or”
1984 – Houston International Film Festival – “Gold Award”
1985 – Hiroshima International Film Festival (Japan) – Grand Prize, “Mayor’s a Award”
1985 – Christchurch International Film Festival (New Zealand) – “Special Prize – Scenario”
1985 – Melbourne International Film Festival (Australia) – “Diploma of Merit”
1985 – Saint Hubert – Canada – “2nd Prize”
1986 – Mons International Film Festival (Beligium) – Grand Prize “Golden Monkey” and “Special Prize for Editing”
1986 – Canadian International Film Festival – “Grand Prize”
1986 – Badalona International Film Festival (Spain) “Second Prize Scenario”
1986 – Kinetic Image International Film Festival (Florida) – “People’s Choice Award” and “2nd Place”
1986 – Golden Knight International Film Festival (Malta) – “Silver Knight”