-Interview by Nic Brown-
term “filmmaker” can be ambiguous. It doesn’t refer to just one
job, rather the whole spectrum of work involved in creating a
movie. Writing, acting, special effects, directing, stunt work,
and producing are all part of that process. So when you call
someone a filmmaker, your description may be too wide for some
who dedicate themselves to one particular field.
In the case of filmmaker Joe Davison, the term fits just right.
He's done everything from writing to stunts, and all the other
jobs in between. Joe has also worked making movies not just in
the US, but in Europe as well. His production company, Pop Gun
Pictures, is dedicated to making independent films both big and
Joe has been in North Carolina recently working on his newest
project, Highway Hunters, with longtime friend and
fellow filmmaker Marcus Koch. However, he still had time to talk
with B Movie Man Nic Brown about his recent film
100 Tears and
what it takes to keep his XBox Live working.
Nic- Joe, you were not only one of the stars of 100
Tears you also wrote the film. Where did you get the idea
for Gurdy the clown and his grizzly killing spree?
Joe- I was trying desperately to get another film of mine
financed, As Night Falls, and I was working hard at
comedy and polishing several other scripts I had. Marcus Koch
was also trying to get financing for his film Baby Doll.
We were both going to work on each others films, like always. So
one day Marcus said, “I always wanted to do a killer clown
film.” He began to describe this scene to me where a girl was
strapped to a bed and couldn't move, and standing beside her was
a clown. That began that. I took his idea and ran with it; with
that one scene I sculpted the entire movie. I only had four days
to write it because our investor Elmar Berger wanted to start
the production immediately. But because of that pressure I was
able to create such a lovable character like Gurdy. Marcus
helped quite a bit too. If I didn't think something flowed right
I would run it by him and he'd say, "Yeah, that works!" or "No!
That's so damn stupid!" Or "We've seen that in this movie or
that movie." And I would be like, “Oh yeah, DAMN!” So, to answer
your question, I didn't go into this thinking that I was writing
an iconic kind of character. It was guy who was hurt and lonely,
looking for the love he had lost long ago. If you crossed his
path you were dead, no questions asked. As far as his killing
spree, I always liked the fun from Friday the 13th with
the killing of one after another, silent and deadly, or any
eighties horror film in general. But, unlike Jason, you can hurt
and maybe even kill Gurdy. I wanted to give a shout out to those
guys who I grew up watching, to let them know they made an
impact on at least on person. Thanks Sean S. Cunningham and Wes
Nic- So what about that horrific giant meat cleaver that
Gurdy wields throughout the film? Was that always his intended
weapon of choice and where did you find that thing?
Joe- The meat cleaver was decided by Marcus and myself. I drew
out about six or seven different styles of knives choose from.
The idea had come from a meat vendor in Japan. They have these
huge ass cleavers that they can cut entire sides of beef with.
We wanted that. If
you're going to kill people you want something that stops them
in their tracks without making noise, and outside your typical
stealthy weapons like the katana, blow gun, and bowie knife we
needed to create it. Marcus took the idea over to a company
we've used before called Javian Graphics and they made the model
out of .25 inch aluminum for us. It ended up weighing close to
ten pounds. Jack Amos loved that about the weapon: the constant
swinging it trying not to actually hit any one with it. By the
end of the first day, Jack's arm was almost useless. But, that's
the price you pay if you want to be an axe wielding lunatic, I
Filmmakers Marcus Koch and Joe
Davison making 100 Tears
Nic- On the Internet Movie Database it says that 100
Tears got an NC-17 rating. Is that correct and if it is,
how does that affect release and distribution of the film?
Joe- Yep! We got an NC-17 rating from the MPAA. That was an
awesome day. I got the call at about mid-afternoon. The man from
the MPAA was excited and had said that this by far was one of
the best indie horror films they had had the pleasure to watch
in a really long time. I was listening with my jaw on the floor.
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. He said, “We have to give
you an NC-17 rating due to extreme gore and violence.” I asked
what we would have to do to make it an R rating and he said,
“Don't! You would lose too much integrity of the film. Leave it
an NC-17.” I was like, "Yes, sir!”
As far as it having any effect on the
sales or distribution of the film, I don't see a large issue
with it. After all, we're probably going right to DVD anyway so
who cares. Everyone wants the unrated or special uncut versions
on DVD anyway. I could see it being a sales issue if we had the
pleasure of going into the theaters but that's not going to
Audience choice award winner
(Left to right: Jack Amos (Gurdy
the killer clown),
Marcus Koch (director) and Joe
Nic- Do you have a distributor lined up for the DVD yet?
Joe- Distribution is always tricky from what I've learned over
the last several years. 100 Tears is available in
Germany and France at the moment, with Uncut Films picking it up
in France and I-On New Media picking it up in Germany. We have
some vested interests in Taiwan, Korea, and Japan at the moment
and we're trying really hard to get Dimension Extreme to take a
gander at us. We also like the idea that After Dark is
interested in the film. On our level it's a gamble for those
guys as well as us. They don't know anything about us or the
fact that the project will make any money and we don't know if
the companies signing us are going to rake us over the goals and
never pay. So, you have to decide as an independent film if you
want your film on the shelves or you want to sit on it until the
perfect offer comes along. Sometimes you don't have time to
Nic- So Joe, you've worn a number of different hats as a
filmmaker. You've been a stuntman, actor, writer, and producer
to name a few. What's your favorite job and why?
Joe with Stuntman Ron Balicki
Joe- I like all of them and on our level of film making you
can't always afford to hire the right person to do a certain
job, so you have to step in and do it all and sometimes all on
the same day. I love writing! Love it! I love creating
characters in tense situations and pulling them through, dirty,
wet, and often bloody. But I also write comedies, seeing that my
background is in improv. It's a funny mix but one that works.
But in the end I like them all. I like to do them all and I plan
on doing them all. You have to, especially if you want to keep
food in your mouth or more importantly your XBOX Live up and
Nic- Do you have plans to put on the director's hat in
any of your upcoming projects?
Joe- That's a great question. I'm actually in negotiations right
now for funding for my next feature, As Night Falls,
which I will be directing. But Marcus is doing the effects again
so we'll both more then likely be behind the camera just as much
as on 100 Tears. The film is an action-packed ghost
story with such stars as
with cameos from Marcus Koch, Ted Geoheghan and a few others.
Nic- How did you get your start as a filmmaker?
Joe- Years ago I was with an improv troupe called Beat the Dead
Horse. We did a lot of local shows and what not and a film
director (Charles Knowles) from Miami was in the audience and
thought I might work a lead role in his film. So he talked with
me for a bit and sent the script, and the next thing I knew I
was on my first ever plane flight and my first ever movie all in
one go. I guess if you're going to do it; might as well jump in
with both feet. So that started this whirlwind of film making.
Shortly after, I was doing short films, writing scripts,
auditioning for other features, and slowly starving myself. But
it's all paying off now. I just hope it continues moving
Joe in Timo Rose's
Nic- You've mentioned a number
of the horror greats as your influences. If you could work with
any one of them, who would it be and where would you want to be,
in front of or behind the camera?
Joe- Man that's a tough one. I have worked with two of them so
far and that was fantastic for me. A giggly little school girl
you might say. The first was Tom Savini on Craig Kovach's
Unearthed. Tom was fucking cool, man. We still catch up at
every convention we see each other at; recently it was the
Austin Fangoria Convention. The other was Bruce Campbell. I only
got to work with him for about four hours; it still was awesome.
And of course I've had the pleasure to work with Debbie Rochon
and Timo Rose. I still would love to work with so many others
but if I had to narrow it down to one actor or director it would
have to be Mike Mendez for sure. After watching the Convent
and Grave Dancers I see that he is exactly what I like
about horror films. His films are full of action and humor and
blood. That's all the things I love in films. The bloodier they
are the better! The funnier they are the better! The actionier
they are the better! I love that style. Sure you have tons of
gore, action, and humor all in one film. I really want to try
and achieve that style in my next film, whatever that may be.
Nic- So can you tell us about the project you're
currently working on?
Joe- Currently, I'm working on BEAST, Timo Rose's
newest venture into lycanthropy. I play a werewolf hunter who
throws punches as fast as smart ass remarks. Joe Zaso is playing
one of the many werewolves in the film. It also stars Raine
Brown. It's going to be blast. I love working with Timo and his
gang of miscreants.
Nic- What do you think is the biggest challenge for
independent filmmakers today?
Joe- Funding!!! Finding funding is always a stupid battle with
filmmakers and the investors. If I hear one more investor say
"What's its marketability?" or "Is there a big star in this
Joe and Debbie Rochon working on
Timo Rose's Fearmakers
going to shoot them dead. From my view point they don't
understand filmmaking for the most part, or they pretend to know
it and try to throw out names like Eric Estrada or Gary Busey.
Now granted, it takes a certain caliber of actor to sell a film.
That I agree with but when you're shooting a feature for .01% of
what a studio would shoot the same script for they have to be
out to lunch! Yes I too would love to have Ewan Mcgregor star in
my film but that just isn't going to happen yet. Not until I can
continue to make smaller films and climb that ladder of
acknowledgement. But for an independent film maker to finish a
film and get that film to a festival is truly a great
accomplishment in itself. Hats off to them for that. More money
just means bigger problems.
Nic- You mentioned keeping your XBox Live running
earlier. What would we find you playing if we stopped by?
Joe- HAHAHAHAHA! I switch back from Halo 2 (gamertag; Thee Jack
Burton) and Oblivion. Man I just love both those games. Oblivion
is a great way to lose yourself in a game and Halo, well, if you
just want to blow some shit up! I like Call of Duty 4 a lot too.
Speaking of gaming, that's another avenue I would love to get
into. Writing an action game for Ubisoft or any gaming company.
That would be damn awesome!