I feel that without those years doing improv comedy I would not have learned the essentials of acting. But, what improv really showed me was how to formulate a plot device to construct a proper script. Jumping from one character to the next and imagining what each character might be going through allows me to develop a stronger connection between all characters. In improv you have five rules for formulating a proper scene within seconds on stage. Those same rules can apply to creating a script. Those lessons I learned on stage have become my most valuable possession. When I meet a writer and they ask for pointers or advice I often give them the five rules of improv. They will help tremendously. It’s something creative writing teachers won’t tell you or show you because they don’t know that secret. I should know, I failed creative writing and almost flunked out of High School for it.
What horror movies or directors inspires your creativity?
The movie that sticks with me the most is the Exorcist. That scared me to death when I was kid. Then sometime around 1991ish I was in a video store and saw a video that look interesting. So, I picked it up and brought it home. Now, I had been sneaking up the the local gas station on the corner from my house since fifth grade and reading Fangoria. Fangoria introduced me to a character named Raw Head Rex. I saw this picture of old Rex eating the head of a priest and I was like “That’s Awesome!”.
But, now I was sitting in my living room about to watch this video and I was never the same since. That same video introduced me to Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, it was Evil Dead II. Not too days later I think I saw a trailer for Army of Darkness.
As far as directors go it’s tough. As I’ve grown as a film maker and my influences have changed. I consider the greats to be Sam Raimi, George Romero, John Landis, and Peter Jackson. But, now I also like Gore Verbinski, Tony Gilroy, Wayne Kramer, and guys like Zach Synder. But, I love Timo Rose and Alan Rowe Kelly as well. They run the gamete for independent horror film makers. Timo moves fast and can do a lot with a little and Alan is trying to show people that it’s not what you’re saying but how you say it. Alan is inspiring.
I love horror films. But, I try and learn from watching them. I’m not an effects artist, really. I can do some things but for the most part I can’t do effects. Leave that up to the masters like Marcus Koch. What I try to pull from most horror movies is what not to do. Especially the independent ones. Bad lighting, bad acting, and little to no production value.
Do you think the current state of the economy has hurt the horror movie market?
Sometimes, money constraints will hold you down aggressively. You’re fighting with money as much as you are the insurance companies or the city. I’ll be the first to tell you money managing is hard. I’ve learned some valuable lessons. That’s why now, I let someone else take care of the money and I just make the movies. I think if you’re a smart film maker you should find the proper investors. The ones who believes in you and not just your film(s). You need to be able to show that you’re not just a one hit wonder. The economy is tough right now. But investors are looking for a place to put there money and film is it. The real estate market is in a perfect position for independent film makers at the moment. No one wants invest in it. So, now they’re investing in films. Especially horror.
Experiment 7 is your new movie. Can you tell our HorrorNews fans a bit of what it’s all about?
It takes place ten years after the end of the world. Nuclear fallout has devastated most of the planet and where following one man. Dr. Felix Copper (Rod Grant), a scientist who is trying to purify water. On his journey to a subterranean lab his wife is killed by mutants. This sends him over the edge and he is left to his devices. But he meets three people that will help him through to the end. Sam (me) and William (Dwight Cenac) two adventures, and Aco (Candice Rojas) a supermodel turned weapons expert. Together they will help keep Felix alive long enough to do what needs to be done. All the wile he’s communicating with two doctors in New York. Dr. Phillips (Alan Rowe Kelly) and Dr. Croft (Raine Brown) who are also helping with the purifying of water and trying not to get killed by mutants.
Do you believe in all the hype surrounding 2012 being the end of days?
I think that we are moving fast as a society. Technology is advancing faster then children can learn to read. I have a theory; they say history repeats itself. So, if that’s the case then perhaps the aliens we so often hear about coming to visit are indeed human. Look at the Egyptians for a moment. They communicated through symbols. It’s only a matter of time before we two only communicate through symbols. When we text, we will substitute a letter with a number to shorten the word (i.e. l8tr). We can recognize a product simply by a logo, like the golden arches. We know it’s stands for McDonalds. A blue and red ying yang is Pepsi, mouse ears are Disney, we get it. We are spending more and more time in our rooms playing MMORPGs and less time hanging with our friends. Dating has become an online adventure, thanks E Harmony! Why go out and meet someone when you can scan hundreds from inside your closet. I think we want it that way. But, then again it wont matter in the end, North Korea has nukes and well, we’ve fought communists before. We could be days away from death. Who cares?! I have to get back to playing World of Warcraft.
What was your favorite scene to the shoot for “Experiment 7” ?
That would have to the bathroom fight scene with Aco and Spider Mutant. She’s not actually a spider but that’s what we called her. The spider mutant is played by Jenna Shriver a world renowned female boxer who is ranked fifteenth in the world for the featherweight division. Jenna is amazingly bad ass. Candice and Jenna did a ton of rehearsing with fight choreographers Johnathan Tilley and Anisti Vega. The end fight product is fantastic! Candice surprised me the most though. She had never done a real fight scene before this and she nails it. The reactions, the pulls, she hit all her marks and they made the fight scene on the best in the film. Which there are like a total of around thirty fight scenes.
Any cool behind the scenes moments during the filming of “Experiment 7” ?
There’s this wonderful moment with Sam played by myself. See, Sam and William get into this huge battle in what we have dubbed the Ballroom Blitz. At one point the Deathgun gets knocked out of Sams hands and he has to retrieve it. So, we (as in I) came up this idea that what if Sam slides across the floor and picks it up. It was going to be awesome! Yeah, it wasn’t. We (I) didn’t take into account that the floor was going to be sticky with ridiculous amounts of blood and therefore not allow for the cool sliding technique we (I) wanted. It was like from 0-60-stop in about three seconds. It was the best laugh we (meaning the crew and rest of the cast) had all shoot.
“As Night Falls” is your next feature. What can you tell us about this project?
As Night Falls is one of the projects you hear about. It’s been in the making for like five years. I started writing it when I was still working on Unearthed. Then I moved to England with my wife and finished it there. Tried to get it funded and failed. Repeat that about six times. It has been budgeted at 50k to 10 million. Simply because some producer would come along and say “I can get that funded for you.” But they would want these changes done to it. So, I would do the changes and still nothing. At one point, I wasn’t even going to be allowed to direct or produce it. We had talked to Jason Mewes about staring in it as well as Corey Fieldman at one point. It’s been a ridiculous roller coaster. But, now we’re shooting in January and we have Debbie Rochon, Raine Brown, and Deneen Meloday on board. We also have Eric Curtis as our Director of Photography and we’re shooting on the RED. So, even though it took my baby some growing up, it finally is able to walk. It’s going to some bad ass super fun. Wait until you see the SKULL VAN!
The plot is pretty simple honestly. A family moves into a farm house and its cursed. The evil rises again and tries to kill everyone. But, Elizabeth (Deneen Melody) is stronger then most females and along with the help of her boyfriend Otto (Dwight Cenac), and her littler sister Holly, their going to kick some undead ass.
Your movies focus a lot of fear , everything from the fear of clowns to the fear of the world ending and what might be left. What are you afraid of?
Not much. Choking perhaps. I’m not afraid of fire. As a six year old it burned down my parent’s home and burnt 60% of my father’s body. But, he survived. It almost killed all of us. So, fire and I have an understanding now. I had a gun put in face in my early twenties but I didn’t flinch for a second. I can still see the scratched metal edges. I almost lost my right arm in a car accident when we hit a tree at 75 miles per hour. I now have a titanium rod with eight screws holding my humerus together. Suffered some severe nerve damage from that. But, everything works fine now. I almost drowned as an infant when I fell into a pool and sank to the bottom. My dad jumped in and saved me. But, now that I think about it, supernaturalityism scares me. I am a big believer in Ghost. I believe there is the ultimate good and the ultimate evil. One day someones going to win. And I am completely afraid of the dark. It’s the most unkown.
What do you think about this trend of Hollywood remaking everything?
I cannot harp on Hollywood. Because, those of us who grew up watching those films are now the ones calling the shots. So, it makes since that there is a huge string of remakes. Those guys and gals watched those films and were influenced by them. It’s only natural that they want to make them better. Are they? Not really. They’re just different. I saw the Friday the 13th remake. But, I feel they should have remade it with Kane Hodder as Jason. Did I see My Bloody Valentine in 3-D? No. Don’t care to see it. The Hills have Eyes? The first one. I didn’t see the second one. Now, they’re remaking Nightmare on Elm Street!? Why? You can not replace Robert Englund as Kruger. Sorry, can’t be done. Now Stepfather is being done, Crazies, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and the list goes on and on. But, if a studio came to me and said we’ll pay you to direct a remake Vegas in Space. I’d be on that in a minute.
Do you watch movies? If so, have you seen any new horror that is worth checking out?
I love movies! I watch as many as I can. I just recently watched Unborn and I thought it was great fun! But, most recently the one film that has me talking is Jack Brooks Monster Slayer. That movie is a riot! Well done! If you haven’t seen that film go check it out.
What’s next for Joe Davison?
Well, I just finished my third novel Infinite Chaos; set in a post apocalyptic world. It’s a theological horrorish novel. Michael the Archangel comes to earth to stop Lucifer from destroying it. I also finished a movie tie-in novel for Experiment 7. A book base solely on Sam and William and their crazy ass adventures throughout time.
Pop Gun Pictures has teamed up with Dwight Cenac and Crown Productions in Jacksonville to create a fully functioning studio, of which we will be shooting some of As Night Falls on the huge sound stage their. We are in pre-pro for As Night Falls right now and after we wrap that in February. The awesome Dwight Cenac and myself will start pre-production on another film. We plan on making about two films a year once the studio is fully operational this September.