Celeste had little interest in school, and struggled to get
good grades. She also struggled with her home life and friendships.
Time was slowly dragging by. She was waiting for the days to
pass, to grow up, and to be free.
She liked to do artistic things like paint, draw and
write. She began to write a story. This story paralleled her
own life in certain ways; her search to fit in, to avoid drugs,
drinking and cigarettes, to get along with people, to find meaning
for her life, and to find her Higher Power. In other ways it
was an uncensored look at what a teenage girl would fantasize
about; being powerful, boys liking you, people being sad if
you were gone, feeling wanted, and the fear of making wrong choices.
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. It was shocking.
When Celeste came to me with the first version of her story at the age of 13,
I realized just how talented this little girl was. Never having
learned story structure, she had created her own. She was effortlessly
telling a story by means of four time-lines--and it worked!
I was also amazed that she would reveal exposition just as the
reader would wonder about a particular plot point or character.
The subtext leaped off the page, and the symbolism was profound.
It was clearly a gift. As shocking and saddening as I found
the content, I encouraged her to continue her writing uncensored;
not thinking of how it might be received and judged by others,
but from her soul- as a true expression of what was inside.
She would come to me every now and then and we would brainstorm
a plot point. A few months later, I typed it up for her- and
low and behold- with a little twist here and a tuck there, we
had a feature length screenplay! A year later an amazing cast
and crew came together for an 18-day shoot, and made Celeste's
screenplay into a real movie, which she starred in opposite
PURGATORY HOUSE is a living, breathing snapshot of how it
feels to be a teen in a fast-paced, media-saturated world
undiluted by adult sensibility. I see this film as an amazing
opportunity for all of us. It's a wake-up call. Hopefully we
can begin to take responsibility for the lost and lonely lives
that many kids are living today, and make a change.
Purgatory Houses are here on earth. Can we help our kids find
the way out?