Meet Davionne Gooden who’s celebrating 5 years of membership at LaunchHouse! Davionne is the founder and CEO of Studio Zevere, a multimedia creation company that focuses on video game development and film production. They also dabble in videography and event and portrait photography as well. Its goal is to create meaningful, thoughtful, entertaining content. Davionne has directed and produced three feature films and designed all of the video games at Studio Zevere.
What inspired you to start (or join) this company?
I just wanted to make cool shit and express myself through art and entertainment (especially since I’m pretty private person).
Did you always have aspirations to become an entrepreneur?
I always knew I wanted to get into the entertainment industry ever since I was a kid. I just never knew exactly how.
Around 4th grade or so, I started tinkering around with Windows Movie Maker. I didn’t have a camera, actors or anything. So, I would take pictures off the internet and combine those with dialogue cards, kind of like a silent film. At that point, I was really into animation, so I would also draw and animate super short stick figure shorts. This continued until 6th grade when I bought a $10 microphone from Walmart and used it to record my friends’ voices for more “animated” shorts.
Tell us about your entrepreneurial journey.
I got into game development and taught myself via the internet. Then, I messed around with a bunch of various game engines before finally settling on RPG Maker VX. It was fun designing my own stuff and I knew I wanted to pursue it as an actual career in addition to filmmaking. The name “Zevere” came up around this time, too. The original name was “Zevere Interactive”. I just replaced the S in “severe” with a Z because it sounded cool.
Around 7th grade, I got way more into theatre and ended up not doing too much filmmaking during this time. However, I kept up with game development all throughout middle school and high school, starting and stopping projects here and there, learning new stuff, making new connections, etc.
In the summer of 2014, I participated in the second year of LEAP, where I developed a prototype of a game called The Amazing Office Adventures (which I still plan on making a full version out of soon). Later that year, I decided to put game dev on hold to go back to filmmaking. The rest of the year I dedicated time to a feature film, two short films, and a short (award-winning) documentary. The end of my junior year is when I officially decided to make Studio Zevere both a game development studio and a film production company.
What has been your biggest learning experience from starting your business?
The production of my first feature film, Absolutely Essential. I wrote, directed, shot, co-edited, and co-produced it during my junior year of high school. It was supposed to be filmed over the course of four Saturdays in February. It ended up dragging until early June. The main delays came from cast no-shows, technical and communication issues, other commitments, script rewrites, and especially my own inexperience as a director.
But it was an incredible learning experience and taught me how to (and how not to) make a movie. Not to mention, the fun parts were actually REALLY fun and brought me closer with a ton of my friends. Most of whom worked on my film, Roxanne in Wonderland.
What inspired you to join the LaunchHouse community?
My friend, Xavier Aniton, was starting a group called the “Mainstream Youth Movement”. It was a group of middle school students attempting to make one large conglomerate of ideas and products. It ranged from clothes, music, advertising, etc. I created and lead my own “Game Development” department. Starlight Adventure was our first game.
During the spring and summer, we would meet at LaunchHouse every Saturday and “work” for a total of 15-30 minutes. Then, we would buy Georgio’s pizza, mess around, pretend we were pros, and basically get nothing accomplished. Many of my favorite memories were made at LaunchHouse with a lot of my friends. The group pretty much disbanded once we got into high school. I kept going to LaunchHouse because I loved the environment and I loved working on my games there.
What is your favorite part about LaunchHouse? Any favorite memories?
I just love the community aspect of it all – everyone here is so supportive of each other and it’s really awesome to be a part of. I know my company probably wouldn’t exist if it hadn’t been for LaunchHouse and the people a part of it.
My two favorite memories would have to be the recent move and participating in the last two LEAP years – the first as an actual student entrepreneur, the second as an intern.
The best advice/quote you ever got:
“Be excellent to each other.” – Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
See above quote.
How do you define success?
Be satisfied with the work you put out. It doesn’t have to necessarily be perfect. But it should be something that you can look back on (despite it flaws) and say, “Yeah, I did that. I’m proud of that.”