Being from Indian descent, Canadian Divya D’Souza often worried that she would never make the leap from assistant directing to producing early in her career. Being a minority, and being a female, she knew the odds were stacked against her. However, through hard work, determination, and patience, she kept going. She worked strenuous hours, gave up a personal life, and set her mind on the singular goal of being a producer. This fortitude has now more than paid off, as she is an acclaimed film producer that has put her mark on over 30 different projects in different genres and mediums.
D’Souza has made a career working on major productions, including the cult classic Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Adam Sandler’s Pixels and many others. One of her first major blockbuster films was the 2012 remake of Total Recall, which she still remembers as a major moment in her esteemed career.
“Working on this project allowed me to learn and also show my competency and skills as a producer. My bosses trusted me enough to execute different tasks a producer would do,” she says.
Originally adapted by director Paul Verhoeven in 1990, author Philip K. Dick's classic Sci-Fi short story returns to the big screen in this remake starring Colin Farrell, Bryan Cranston, and Kate Beckinsale, and directed by Underworld's Len Wiseman. The planet has been decimated by nuclear war in the late 21st century, leaving only two nations -- the United Federation of Britain and the Colony. Douglas Quaid (Farrell) is a factory worker with a stable job and a loving wife (Beckinsale), but upon learning that a company named Rekall could grant him the memory of the ultimate espionage adventure, he decides that a virtual vacation is better than no vacation at all. But in the midst of having the new memories implanted, something goes haywire. Still strapped to the chair as the system breaks down, he's branded a spy as the authorities close in, and quickly flees for his life. Later, Quaid discovers that he has a secret identity, and he joins forces with rebel soldier Melina (Jessica Biel) on a mission to track down Matthias (Bill Nighy), the head of a fierce resistance movement that's been labeled a terrorist organization by the tyrannical Chancellor Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston). Cohaagen seeks to control the entire free world, and now the harder Quaid fights to defeat him, the clearer it becomes that his memory had been altered long before he walked into Rekall.
“I think the message of keeping people repressed and the drive for an alternate lifestyle is one a lot of people can relate to,” notes D’Souza.
D’Souza had many responsibilities on the set of Total Recall, coordinating with many teams and helping resolve issues as they came up. She oversaw the gallery shoot for the film as the producer and creative representative, allowing her to show the high-profile talent working on the film what she was capable of. She liaised with the studio, and was on set everyday monitoring what was going on and reporting back to the director in terms of timing and schedule. Every scene that was shot felt like a new experience for D’Souza at the time.
“We did some really cool innovations like building flying car bodies that the actors were in, but then they had an extension down to an actual car that stunt drivers drove that were painted out in VFX later. It was amazing to see a design I had never seen before being executed from beginning to end and then finally making it into the film,” she said.
Total Recall was a worldwide hit, generating over USD$198 million at the box office. Such success feels great for D’Souza still, knowing her hard work was appreciated by millions of people all over the world.