Exclusive: Producer David Gere
Joseph Bruen: Let's start from the beginning David. Tell us about your childhood and what you did for fun growing up.
David Gere: I sort of had the classic 80's childhood. A lot of great memories and experiences. I grew up in what was back then was a more rural version Cromwell, Connecticut. My neighborhood was a playground. Woods, BMX bikes, basketball hoop in the driveway. Posters of Michael Jordan, Hulk Hogan and Cindy Crawford on my bedroom walls! I was a serious student growing up, both of my parents were educators in the local school system, so that was a priority. I have a national record of having never missed a day of public school from Grade 1-12. I guess I was always a workaholic or just didn't want to sit still. Sports became a big part of my life, and to this day I've hung onto a couple of track records at my high school. And of course I spent a few summers chasing girls around town before we had texting!
Joseph Bruen: You studied at Providence college for film. How was your experience there?
David Gere: I really found myself at PC. I started out pre-law. I randomly took a film class, and the professor, Ken Gumbert pulled me aside after I had written a fairly strong paper on 'The Catholic Imagination of Four Filmmakers: Ford, Capra, Coppola and Scorsese' and asked me if I would be interested in helping him develop the new Film Studies curriculum at PC. He quickly introduced me to Peter Farrelly, the famed comedy director who did 'Dumb And Dumber' 'There's Something About Mary' and many other movies with his brother. Peter was a PC alum. I met those guys, did some internship work on set, next thing I knew, I had some bit parts in major films. That was the start. Had I not taken that film class, I probably would not be here talking to you about my career.
Joseph Bruen: When was it decided that film was what you were going to be involved in?
David Gere: I had actually signed a modeling contract with NEXT in NYC. I had some great experiences but knew it wasn't right for me. I wanted to be in movies. In 1996 I worked on my first feature film set in Providence, 'Code Of Ethics.' Shortly after that I was cast in an Alec Baldwin film called 'Outside Providence.' I also did stunts on that set, it all started around that time when I was still in college.
Joseph Bruen: Were you always a fan of pro wrestling? You are now a pro wrestling manager known as DG Haven. Tell us all about your character and what you're all about.
David Gere: I was always a big pro wrestling fan since the mid 80s. Of course I watched the then WWF brand, but I enjoyed the characters and story lines more from AWA, NWA and World Class Championship Wrestling. I would never have imagined that I would be involved at all with pro wrestling. A few years ago, I began portraying DG Haven, the villainous heel manager at Tommy Dreamer's 'House Of Hardcore' and I am currently on the roster. I take it very seriously, I put the time in to be trained properly, and I am very active on the independent wrestling scene, having performed all over North America. DG Haven is a throwback to the old school wrestling managers with an updated, edgy twist. The character is intense and almost always mixes it up in the action of the match. I use a flask during the matches. I have taken some pretty big bumps. Most recently I took ROH star Donovan Dijak's finisher at a Blitzkrieg Pro show which Dreamer actually headlined. It was Tommy's idea. I want to give everything I can to the match because the other guys out there go so hard. I respect that so much. So Haven certainly is a physical performer in addition to being strong on the mic, riling up the crown.
Joseph Bruen: You have done a lot of work with HOH (House of Hardcore). Tell us about your experiences there and what it's like working for Tommy Dreamer.
David Gere: Tommy is one of the most respected guys in the business. And he is a masterful promoter, teacher and a great friend. It's amazing to watch him in the back setting up the show, going over matches with the younger talent, and pushing and motivating everyone. The crowds, especially at the 2300 Arena in Philly are truly intense. There's not really anything else like it in pro wrestling right now. It's incredibly raw yet the scope of it is really well constructed. We were on cable for FightNet TV. I am very fortunate that I am part of the roster at HOH.
Joseph Bruen: Who have you managed in the wrestling world so far and which promotions have you worked for?
David Gere: I've managed Carlito and newcomer Alex Reynolds at HOH, Donovan Dijak at Blitzkrieg Pro and XWA, Sean Burke at BTW against Kevin Nash which was a thrilling experience. Managing Abyss at WOH in a 'Monster's Ball Match' was so wild when the tables and thumbtacks came out! I've also worked closely with Josef Von Schmidt at his PWA promotion. I briefly held the 'Ox Baker Old School Championship.' Ox was a mentor to both JVS and I. I've done best storyline work at PWA. I am grateful that Pete has given me a big opportunity there. The feud I had managing multiple wrestlers against Bull Dred chasing down that title was memorable. Pro Wrestling Illustrated even covered it in their magazine. I managed the Puerto Rican legend, El Leon Apolo during that time. He is my favorite guy to work with. I recently cast Apolo and Pete in 'House Rules,' an action/thriller I produced.
Joseph Bruen: Let`s go back just a bit to your pro wrestling debut. Give us the where, when and everything in between including how it came about.
David Gere: I debuted at 'House Of Hardcore 3' in Poughkeepsie, NY on November 9th, 2013. Tommy Dreamer and I had been working together as I had cast him in a sci-fi thriller 'Sensory Perception' I was producing. We hadn't talked much on wrestling. I attended the first few HOH events to show support. He called me a few days before the third show and said, "I need a solid heel manager, can you do it." I assumed he wanted me to cast someone, maybe an outrageous actor, that's what I do in movie world as a producer - cast stuff. He then told me, "I want it to be you." I thought he was joking. But he wasn't. It took us a few days of back and forth to come up with the name and gimmick. He told me to study Jimmy Hart and Bobby Heenan on YouTube. I did. I pitched him my name as 'David Woodhaven,' a play on my production company. In classic Dreamer delivery, he said "I hate that, you are DG Haven." I still laugh when I think about it, because it was sort of the same name. It is a huge honor to have this legend of wrestling ask me to join his promotion and work on my character with me. I'm so grateful that it all happened. I was scared out of my mind when I first went down the ramp that night to the ring. The crowd was insanely hot. I could feel their shouts and beer spew on my back. I managed 'King Danza' as part of a crazy battle royal. I listened to, and did everything Tommy showed me. It was the most thrilling thing I have ever done. My heart was racing the whole time. I was instantly hooked.
Joseph Bruen: What was your first experience with film? Whether it be a short or just messing around, fill us in on how that began.
David Gere: Wow, it seems so long ago now. I had a best friend named Nick. We grew up watching the great movies of early 90s and both wanted to act. We would do scenes back and forth from our favorite films like 'Goodfellas.' In high school we began writing some short film scripts and shot something on a lousy VHS camcorder one summer. It was really awful, some crazy mashup of 'Rambo' with Batman type villains! Our props were things like Super Soaker water guns, cheesy Halloween masks and firecrackers. We used my buddy Matt's pool for the 'ocean scenes.' It was really that bad! I later went on to produce a decent short film during my senior year at PC called 'The Cross.' It won an award. So I guess I was batting .500 by that point.
Joseph Bruen: Woodhaven Media, when did it start and what was your involvement?
David Gere: Back then known as Woodhaven Productions. By 2010 they began pre production on a film called 'Loosies.' Big cast in that one and ironically the lead was Peter Facinelli from the 'Twilight' franchise. I knew Peter previously from a business venture we got together on. I bugged the hell out of Tommy DeNucci to get me formally involved with Chad Verdi and the company. Peter also helped me land a bit part in the movie. It's a great film, and the production was first class. I was impressed by both Tommy and Chad. They invited me onboard a film called 'Self Storage' as an Executive Producer. I am truly grateful I met these guys. Now Tommy and I run Woodhaven Media and Chad has Verdi Productions. We've all had a huge run together, and there is so much coming up.
Joseph Bruen: How did you first meet Tommy Denucci and what is your relationship to him in terms of the film industry?
David Gere: I met Tom about ten years ago. We both had interned at different times for a well established East Coast director. The guy sort of sold both of us short. We were both hungry to make it in the business. Tom and I are like brothers. We are competitive, sometimes even with each other. He had partnered up with Chad Verdi and brought me in a few years after they started Woodhaven. Chad has done so much for the both of us. I can't really talk on Tommy and I without mentioning Chad. The guy can get into any room. He is Martin Scorsese's producing partner on multiple films. Last year Chad produced 'Bleed For This,' with Scorsese as the EP, Tommy had a great role, and I was heavily involved with casting. That really shows you how we work. If I hadn't gotten close to Tommy, it probably wouldn't have happened that way. I talk to him daily, we have big plans and a 'No Surrender' attitude about the entertainment business. I couldn't have better partners - these guys are my close friends too, we laugh like crazy at some of the outrageous stuff that has happened along the way.
Joseph Bruen: Let's talk about your experience working on the film Altitude starring Dolph Lundgren and UFC legend Chuck Liddell. What was that film all about and how were they to work with?
David Gere: Two years ago I got a Facebook inbox message from movie producer Richard Switzer. He introduced himself and asked if he could call me. I had just been cast opposite Jamie Kennedy in 'Buddy Hutchins' by the film's director, Jared Cohn out of LA. So Richard called me, I assumed him to be maybe my age, the guy had a pretty deep voice and talked like a pro on the phone. At the end of the call he said, "Hey DG, you do know that I'm only 18, right? Kinda want to meet some girls on the set in LA, what do you think!" I thought to myself what's going on here, he's a kid? Well it turns out Richard had just been chronicled on Entertainment Tonight as the youngest producer in Hollywood. He's the real deal. A young master at packaging and distributing films. We have partnered on a bunch of movies including family films, 'Arlo The Burping Pig' and 'Christmas All Over Again' and the action films include 'Blue Line' 'The Getter' and 'Altitude.' That one is about a terrorist takeover on an airplane and stars Dolph Lundgren, Denise Richards and Chuck Liddell. Yeah, Dolph and Chuck were pretty cool on set. I hope to work with them both again. I brought Chuck Zito to the set a few times, seeing them hangout was like watching a deleted scene from 'The Expendables.' I would bet on those guys in a bar fight every time!
Joseph Bruen: You have done several projects with Kevin Nash. How is he to work with? Elaborate a little on what you have done together.
David Gere: Kevin is probably my favorite guy to work with. I didn't meet him via wrestling like you might guess, but I wanted to work with him so badly that I bugged his manager on email. I cast him in 'Blue Line' and both Richard and I were stoked to get him. I can't say enough about Kevin. He works so hard on set, is super giving to everyone he works with, and even after working on the extremely snowy and brutally cold New England sets on 'Blue Line' he's only ever asked me for a bottle of water. I went on to cast him as the main villain in 'House Rules.' He spent a lot of time talking to me about DG Haven. That culminated in going on the road with him for a few days for BTW last Summer. I managed my guy against Nash. I took a couple bumps from 'Big Sexy.' He is an incredible person, and has crossed over, for a long time now into A level projects. I'm lucky to be working with him. We have an action film in the works together called 'The Takeaway' to be directed by Jacob Cooney.
Joseph Bruen: You were apart of another film "House Rules" starring Robbie E (TNA Impact star) and Tommy Dreamer. What was it like working on that film? Give us the story of this film.
David Gere: 'House Rules' was my first producing venture with The DTLA Entertainment Group based in Los Angles. I partnered up with a producer there named Charles Lago. I am now a partner in that company. Charles had packaged this underground fight movie before I came onboard. It's stars Tom Sizemore his client. It's really edgy and a fun ride. He had attached some great talent, and I added Nash, Dreamer, Robbie E, and Chuck Zito. Tommy and Robbie are part of a bar room brawl in the movie which sets up Zito to fight the movie's young lead, played by newcomer Jamie Nocher. The guys took a variety of punches, kicks and chair shots! I was in that fight scene also and took a beer pitcher over the head. We all worked really hard on that film. I was so happy to get a few of the boys in there. Charles has really had my back and now manages me. We have an upcoming movie we are producing together this Summer coming called 'USA Motel.'
Joseph Bruen: You also were apart of Anders Manor. Break that one down for us and what it was like working with local actor Mike Messier.
David Gere: Mike and I acted in some scenes together when we shot a concept trailer for it. I think it's his best performance on camera. The film is a classic horror tale. DeNucci and Mike are now revamping the script with the original creators, Glenn and Matt Cousins. We expect to turn the camera on sometime in 2017 to shoot it as a full length feature.
Joseph Bruen: Many years back you had the opportunity to meet Sylvester Stallone. Tell us about that experience!
David Gere: When I get asked by someone if they should continue on their course, I usually tell this story. Ten years ago I had kind of leveled out. I had not started up with Woodhaven yet, and acting roles and opportunities on sets were getting farther apart. I have been the biggest 'Rocky' fan my whole life. The saga has had a lot of personal meaning to me especially when growing up. Believe it or not, I was in NYC and heard a radio DJ talking about how there is an open call for extras for the new film. I didn't want to be part of that cattle call, but realized that if this was true, I needed to find out who was doing principal casting on it. I googled away, and sent a package on myself to Heery Casting in Philly. Someone called from the office a few days later and I went down to Philly twice to audition. I soon learned that Sylvester Stallone himself, as the director of the film was sorting through headshots and tapes. I then got a call that I was picked for a small scene as "one of Rocky's family members" in a dinner scene at Adrian's restaurant. I thought I was dreaming, I was so ecstatic. I didn't know the whole deal at first and went down there again for the shoot date. Sly had a fever and the day was cut short. It got rescheduled. I was worried it wasn't going to happen, my big opportunity might get derailed. But I got the call to come back and after a few hours in holding, I was brought to the restaurant location. I was awe struck looking at the 'Rocky' movie memorabilia hanging on the walls that was part of that set. And then there was Stallone, right in front of me looking over the camera and the blocking. The guy had been my hero since I was eight years-old. I was really all so incredible, I can recall every detail. In the scene, Rocky tells a heart felt story about fighting Apollo Creed, touching on the loss of that character. He then interacts with the actors at our table. It was all improved and low key. He gave me some direction. There's a nice single of me in the film. My smile on camera was for real. I got wrapped out, but bugged the woman who really owned the restaurant to let me hang with her upstairs so I could watch from her balcony. She said, "Okay but if anyone asks, you are my nephew and work here." I was cool with that, and I watched Sly work, both acting as the iconic character and as director. He took breaks to sweat out his flu by sprinting in the street. When they finished the last shot of the day, I figured I would take a chance and try to shake his hand and thank him. You aren't really supposed to do that. I waited until some crew and equipment cleared out and approached Sly. It was 4 am, he was pretty shot at that point. I told him that today meant everything to me, and thanked him for the opportunity and shook his hand. He said "you did a great job kid, really fit the part." I asked him if I could get a photo with him, he hesitated. You're not supposed to ask that! I quickly realized he was just waiting for a PA to come by, and she snapped a photo of us after he told her to "make it a close up!" That day changed my career for sure. I was motivated again. I knew I could do this. A few weeks later I landed a principal role on the CW hit show 'Gossip Girl.'
Joseph Bruen: Break down the movie "The Getter" for us and what the movie was all about. Yet another movie you were apart of.
David Gere: 'The Getter' was produced by myself and Switzer last summer. It was our first movie with international producing partners from China. It stars Tom Sizemore, a Chinese child actress known as Oceana Blue, Sully Erna of Godsmack fame, Maria Kannellis, and DeNucci. We shot part of it in my hometown of Cromwell, we utilized an abandoned Nike Missile site that is now owned by friends of mine. The film will be distributed to that market, and unfortunately that's all I can say on it at the moment due to our agreements with them.
Joseph Bruen: What has your favorite type of movie to act in been so far?
David Gere: I just played 'Det. Johnson' in a supernatural zombie thriller called 'Black Wake' opposite J.W. Cortes from 'Gotham.' I don't know if I have ever had so much fun in a role before.
Joseph Bruen: Another popular film you were apart of called "Almost Mercy" drew a lot of local attention. Tell us all about it.
David Gere: 'Almost Mercy' was directed by Tommy and I produced it under the Woodhaven label with Chad overseeing the business details. Horror icons Bill Moseley and Kane Hodder star in it with newcomer Danielle Guldin who is fantastic in the intense, female driven lead role. Tommy wrote the script, and really wove in a unique backstory about the legendary Mercy Brown murders, which touch on early American Vampire lore. It's one of our best films and is currently available on Netflix and out on DVD.
Joseph Bruen: What are your long term goals in pro wrestling?
David Gere: I used or hold back stating this, because until recently I still felt like a bit of an outsider, but I want to get signed to a major promotion. I have had some discussions with 'Lucha Underground' on the El Rey network. I feel like I am really getting dialed in as DG Haven. I know who he is now, and portraying the character has become like second nature. Fans are starting to really respond.
Joseph Bruen: Any projects in the works that you would like to discuss or maybe give us some exclusive info about?
David Gere: I have a lot in the pipeline, but right around the corner I will be going into production on 'USA Motel' this Summer. I will be producing 'Killer Response' a psychological thriller from Red Entertainment and Executive Producer Carlos Keyes. I am developing a heist film called 'Five Times Thirty-Eight' with my screenwriting partner Joseph Verrastro and DTLA Entertainment. Tom, Chad and I have a big film coming in the Spring of 2017 called 'Jungle Room' which Tommy will direct.
Joseph Bruen: What other movies have you been apart of that we haven't spoken about just yet?
David Gere: There's been a lot in the past year. I had a blast working with Christy Carlson Romano best known for her work on 'Even Stevens' when I produced her directorial debut, 'Christmas All Over Again.' We shot that in late March and had fun figuring out how to make it still look like winter outside.
Joseph Bruen: What was it like to work with actors/actresses like Tom Sizemore and Maria Kanellis?
David Gere: Tom is a force of nature and is one of the best actors of his era. I shared a scene with him recently. I have learned a lot from Tom. He doesn't hide his past struggles, instead brings a level of truth out of that to his current work. Tom invited me to the set of the new Showtime 'Twin Peaks' reboot in LA. He has regained his place in Hollywood. Maria is amazing on and off camera. She is both gorgeous and a total badass. She kicked the hell out of Sizemore in a fight scene for 'The Getter.' She's a star.
Joseph Bruen: Which actors would you absolutely love to work with down the line?
David Gere: I really want to work with Thomas Jane, we have been looking to attach him to a future project.
Joseph Bruen: What advice do you have for someone just getting into acting or thinking of doing so?
David Gere: I would tell them don't listen to anyone that tells you it's a pipedream and you can't make it. I was told that. Take a forward step each day. Have your tools in place. So many young people contact me asking to be in a movie. Most don't have a headshot. Get a good headshot that looks like you. Network and find professionals that can truly help you. Find a couple of people that are close to you and share your dream with them. They will help you protect it. Early on for me, it was my parents. Don't quit or give up, if you don't believe in yourself then people like me who can cast you won't either. Make it your life and live it. Look your best and take ownership over your dream.
Joseph Bruen: How can fans follow you on the web/social media?
David Gere: You can find DG Haven and I on Facebook and Twitter with a simple lookup. But don't hit us up at the same time!