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Some Fences are Hard to Mend

The Divide Blog: October 8, 2014

By Jana Brown, screenwriter, The Divide

When I first began writing the screenplay for The Divide, I could very clearly hear what the characters would say. They talked to me. The soundtrack of their lives buzzed inside my head like an old familiar collection of songs. I couldn’t stop hearing them, no matter if I was ready at my computer to record their digressions or not.

Once I set to writing the script, it took me a relatively short time to get their words onto paper. But what I struggled with at first was conjuring images of what the characters on a ranch would accomplish physically while delivering these lines. I expressed this chasm in my thinking to Perry, asking him what people do on ranches. After all, I’m a New England girl, not a Western rancher. I remember specifically asking if Luke and Sam would really be working on mending fences, or if that was some cowboy movie cliché I had picked up somewhere along the line. He told me, yes, there are always fences to mend on a ranch. It didn’t strike me at first, but before long, I was consciously using the fence as a central theme in the story of Sam Kincaid – both as the symbol of the countless broken pieces of his tired old ranch and of his mangled relationships. I soon began intentionally using the fence as a metaphor for these relationships. Apparently the metaphor worked, because it was my good friend Alice who suggested the fence be part of the tagline for The Divide (“some fences are hard to mend”) after reading the script and recognizing what I had done. In the 10 days Perry, Russ, and I spent on Perry’s ranch in August, we explored many fences on the property, and I began to understand the enormity of mending broken fences, miles and miles of barbed wire, with sharp edges one must approach very carefully. It takes sensitivity and patience to fix those imperfections, virtues that mirror the way in which the characters in The Divide must interact with one another.


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