Work-Live: And Action!

A young Shaker filmmaker finds his calling.

Interview by Jennifer Proe

Filmmaker Davionne Gooden

Who: Davionne Gooden

Where: Fernway neighborhood

Business: Film writer/director and PC game developer. Davionne, SHHS ‘16, will attend DePaul University in Chicago in the fall. About four years ago, he started Studio Zevere out of Shaker LaunchHouse. He has developed and brought to market several PC action/adventure games, including Super Rope War, The Legend of Ace: Trial Adventure, Crystal Heroes, and She Dreams Elsewhere. His films include “Absolutely Essential” (feature film), “Behind the Mask” (short documentary), “By the Pricking of My Thumbs” (short film), and “Roxanne in Wonderland,” a dark comedy crime thriller that served as his high school senior project.

Company’s Mission: When I’m developing a game, I want the player to have a good time, to just have fun. When I’m creating movies, my goal is for people to be entertained. My overall message is that I just want people to be excellent to each other (a reference to the movie “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”).

What I Love About My Work: The arts are something that’s really important to me, and I’m all for bringing more of it to Shaker. It has the power to transform, the power to inspire, the power to do all these amazing things to people. That’s why I love it so much.

Personal Background: I grew up in the Fernway area and went to Fernway Elementary. When I was in fifth or sixth grade at Woodbury, I started playing around with this program called RPG maker [a PC game design program] and I got really into it and started designing games. I also like journaling. One of my cousins looked at my journals and said it looked like a movie.

I started working out of LaunchHouse about four years ago, using it as a design and film studio space. I took a lot of theatre production and playwriting classes at Shaker and I was involved in most of the theatre productions while I was there, mostly backstage. I was the graphic designer and production assistant for “Les Miserables,” and assistant director for “Romeo and Juliet.” I was also a MAC (Minority Achievement Committee) Scholar, which was really empowering. People really look up to you, and you can have an impact at school. In 2014, I got to meet Jamie Babbitt [SHHS ‘89], who works as a film director out in California. She has been kind of a mentor to me, and she actually funded some of my most recent movie. And I was recently green-lit on a game I developed using STEAM (a multiplayer game platform).

On Working and Living in Shaker Heights: What I like about Shaker is the diversity and the friendliness. People here are really amazing. I like listening and talking to people and going to friends’ houses. I have a mix of friends but my closest friends are from the theatre group at school. We like going to Shaker Square Cinemas and hanging out at Yours Truly.

Contact: Website: studiozevere.com; Phone: 216-375-1406

Originally published in Shaker Life, Summer 2016