The Story Behind the Laugh Terror Director Duo DaG

Driven by their love for the arts, horror and comedy, Joseph R. Davis and Brian Gerson, a directing team known as DaG, established a boutique film production company called PROco PROduction coMPANY. For the last 5 years, this independent operation has produced several small projects as well as three short horror films. Stirring up some attention for their most recent project, Puppet, this duo proves they are just getting started. Recently, we were fortunate enough to take a closer look at this team and their work having a conversation with DaG. Saying that these two minds think alike would be an understatement. With a great sense of humor and a shared vision, Davis and Gerson make the perfect collaboration. Check out this duo’s story below.

PopHorror: To start, I’d like to thank you both for taking this time to speak with me.

DaG: Sure, no problem.

PopHorror: So, I have a list of questions for you leading up to your most recent project, Puppet. But to start off, how long have you been working together making films?

DaG: We’ve been making films with each other for about 5 years. When I started out, I did a music video or two.

DaG: And I had done some stuff in school.

 

PopHorror: So, tell me a little about PROco PROduction coMPANY. When did you establish this and how did you come up with the idea?

DaG: Well PROco started about 5 years ago when we first began working together. PROco stands for production company. We thought it would be funny since we started off making short comedies.

DaG: Yeah, short little PSAs about absolutely nothing (laughs). But yeah, we think they’re funny.

PopHorror: How many films have you made under PROco?

DaG: We’ve made three films. We’ve done several shorts and music videos, but three horror films so far.

PopHorror: I noticed one is called Tender and the other is called It’s Lurking. And then, of course, you worked on Puppet. You mentioned that you’ve done some comedies. Is the horror genre your preferred genre to work in?

DaG: Well, I think our genre is kind of both. It’s something we like to call “laugh terror” which is comedy horror or horror with comedy. Like Peter Jackson and some of his earlier work, and Sam Raimi. Puppet obviously wasn’t that kind of thing, but Tender and It’s Lurking both have that undertone.

DaG: Yeah! A great example is Tucker and Dale vs. Evil. Have you ever seen that?

PopHorror: Oh yeah, I’ve seen that! I love that one. That’s awesome.

DaG: Yeah, that’s definitely some laugh terror. Our ideal genre is that little subgenre.

PopHorror: Speaking of Tender and It’s Lurking, can you tell me a little about those two films?

DaG: Tender is the first film we made out of my garage here in Monrovia, California.

DaG: And it’s about a guy, a girl, some drugs and some chain (laughs).

DaG: Yeah, that was our first attempt. We thought we were making a comedy and we ended up making a horror film. And then It’s Lurking was the opposite, where we were going to set out to make a horror film.

DaG: And it ended up being a comedy.

DaG: And it ended up being a comedy, which actually stars Mr. Gerson here.

DaG: What you’re not seeing is the air quotes…”stars.”

(everyone laughs)

PopHorror: Are those available to watch on YouTube?

DaG: They are all available to watch on our website, which is procoproductioncompany.com

PopHorror: I’ll definitely have to check those out. This next question could have the same answer from both of you. What do you like most about filmmaking?

DaG: I think all of it, really. We direct, we shoot, we cut, and we did the special effects in our films for the most part. Except for the visual special effects that were in Puppet. That was the first time we moved outside of our own little group of people. But we did the digital special effects in It’s Lurking. We also do our own graphics design.

DaG: We even scored It’s Lurking ourselves.

DaG: We just like all of it. Every bit of it. Just making the thing. Doing the thing.

PopHorror: Are there any full-length features you foresee making in the near future?

DaG: Absolutely. We have a couple that are kind of on the pipeline, but we don’t really talk about that stuff because, you know, we don’t want to jinx anything until it’s moving.

DaG: Yeah, we don’t like to count our eggs before they’re hatched.

DaG: We have some feature ideas that we have been tossing around and trying to put together. But obviously putting together a feature is a lot different than putting together a short. I mean, a short can be a nightmare and take months to put together, so I can only imagine what a feature is going to be like.

PopHorror: About Puppet. How did you become involved in making that film?

DaG: We had talked to Jeffery Potts, who is a fantastic writer. He had sent us a couple of scripts and we just fell in love with the script [for Puppet]. And so he agreed to let us direct, cut and produce it. So, we met with Leah Civoli, who is an old friend of mine and she helped us produce the film. It all happened so fast that I can’t even tell you how it happened anymore (laughs).

DaG: It was a pretty whirlwind of a summer last year and we ended up making Puppet.

DaG: It was probably a 5 day shoot squeezed into 3 days and the actors came together based on Jeff’s script. His script just sold it to everybody. I really wish we had those 5 days because we would have matched it.

DaG: Yeah, we feel like we butchered his beautiful script a little bit.

DaG: But he still agreed to work with us again, so it’s all good (everyone laughs). We didn’t butcher it too much, apparently (laughs). And thankfully, the actors were all fantastic. We’re so use to relying on just us and our friends. Our friends are capable people as well, but to be in front of experienced actors who had done stuff was just a much different experience for us. It was our first union project and to have actors who have had more training and experience with some theater, it was cool.

Jeff himself has some theater background as well, which he brought to the set. We’re pretty inexperienced and we’re use to making our own stuff. So, working with people who know all the working parts and how it’s all done was really cool. And everyone kind of taught us how to do this. That was probably one of the best parts.

PopHorror: What was your favorite part of working on Puppet and what was the biggest challenge?

DaG: Our favorite part was obviously the blood (laughs).

DaG: The blood is always fun. Making a mess was definitely a good time.

DaG: And the hardest part was probably the temperature. I think those were the hottest days of the month during a heat wave. And we’re in this little house with 15 people, lights and no air conditioning. We also had to keep the windows closed because there was a busy street right outside. So, it was over 100 degrees all day and all night. It just didn’t cool off. We’re working until midnight and it’s still 98 degrees with a gust of wind. So, I would say that would be the hardest part.

PopHorror: After I spoke with Tara, she pointed out that you gave everyone a choice over their wardrobe and they chose to wear sweaters?

DaG:…..yes (laughs).

DaG: We couldn’t afford to buy any wardrobe so we just said to wear stuff you didn’t mind getting dirty. We paid a lot of money for this no staining blood, but we couldn’t guarantee that it wouldn’t stain their clothes. So, people just wore what they never wear in L.A., which would be sweaters.

PopHorror: Based on my understanding, there’s potential for a full feature of Puppet. Will this be happening?

DaG: Well, I think you might have to interview Mr. Jeffery Potts to get that answer. Of course, we would be up for it if a script came through and we could pull together a budget. I mean, Puppet was fantastic. It was so fun to shoot and playing in all the blood like that.

DaG: It was definitely a lot of fun.

DaG: Making a mess was definitely the highlight of the whole thing and then going in there to make sure it really looked gruesome and authentic. And just working with everybody, trying to do the same thing, watching Haley, Desi and Alex in the makeup room, working to make this grossness happen. It was awesome. I would love to make a grosser version of that. You hear that, Potts? Grosser version. More zombies and puking (laughs).

DaG: Definitely more puking! (laughs)

PopHorror: You mentioned earlier about upcoming projects. Is there anything coming up that you can talk a little about?

DaG: We actually just completed editing a project for our friend Sean Richards. He’s doing the Friday the 13th Part 3: The Memoriam Documentary. He was able to land some of the original cast members of Part 3. He was able to pull together a couple other icons and he got permission to use the Friday the 13th theme. So, we just cut that and were able to shoot some footage. We had some fun on that project and that is coming out in, I believe, August 13th. Then Puppet will be showing at the Action On Film Festival held at Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas this summer on August 18th at 8:00.

PopHorror: The last question I have for you, which is a tough one, is: what is your favorite horror film of all time?

DaG: Oh wow, that’s a rough one. I would probably go with The Thing. I just like the creativity of the whole thing. It was one of the first movies to really scare the hell out of me as a kid, watching those dogs split apart. I also think it’s because it has a dark and isolating feeling where you’re fighting through a world where you can’t trust basically anything.

DaG: And I just watch Get Out and I thought that was fantastic.

PopHorror: Both of those are great answers. That’s all the questions I have for you, but thank you for taking this time and chatting with me.

DaG: No problem. Thank you for having us!

Though details on upcoming projects are not ready to be released, DaG is hard at work doing what they love. Luckily for us, that love involves gruesome imagery and plenty of horror paired with some laughter. Stay tuned to PopHorror for this team’s upcoming projects, news, reviews and more.

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