Being a teenager can really suck. Many turn to forms of self-destruction in order to deal with their problems. But there are those that channel their frustrations into something creative. Take Celeste Davis for instance, at the age of 13, she poured her troubled emotions into a story called “Purgatory House.”
“Purgatory House” chronicles the after-life journey of a lonely, teenage girl (played by Davis), who abandoned her life on earth to go to a better place, the place she would finally belong. Instead, she finds God – a drag queen game-show host, who doesn’t look kindly on suicide and awards her an all expense paid trip to the Purgatory House. There, she must watch her family and friends continue to live without her via a giant TV set, while she remains 14-years-old forever.
Meeting Davis through the Big Sisters of Los Angeles Program, an organization that pairs at-risk girls with female mentors, actress turned director/producer Cindy Baer got a look at “Purgatory House” and knew she had to turn it into a film. “This piece was like nothing I’d ever read before,” said Baer. “Celeste had created an entertaining story while unintentionally exposing an unsettling matter-of-fact teenage reality. I was amazed at how clearly I could see the influence of the society we live in today reflected back at me through this newly 13-year-old girl.”
Baer suggested that they turn “Purgatory House” into a short video that Davis could star in. But after Davis, now at the age of 14, finished the final draft of the screenplay, Baer felt strongly that Davis’ story must be produced in its entirety.
Others agreed including Tim Smith, marketing and training manager of Canon U.S.A. Inc. “We feel Celeste’s story is one that must be told. Her voice represents the voice of many teenagers who cannot always find a way to express themselves,” said Smith. Canon supported the project by donating the use of two complete XL1S packages, which made “Purgatory House” the first feature to use these new cameras.
“Purgatory House” features many ambitious visual effects, including extensive blue and green screen shots which were composited into virtual and real sets, taking about 11 months to complete.
Davis may inadvertently wind up with the distinction of being the youngest sole screenwriter to have a feature produced.
For more on the film, visit the Purgatory House website.