back to my homepageto my online storemy recent newsmy recent press Welcome to Purgatory House! A Feature Written By A 14-Year-Old-Girl.
about my movie read pages from my script about the people who helped listen to some songs from the movie see our first trailers look through our poster gallery my photo album our amazing cast and crew email me!


Here is the latest news on what's been happening with the movie...
an online journal by director Cindy Baer

January 2007
The big day has finally arrived! After years of hard work, 22 film festivals, 11 awards, 2 Prism Nominations, 7 appearances on "Best Films of the Year" lists by critics and amazing reviews, PURGATORY HOUSE is available in video stores all around the country including Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, Netflix, Amazon and all your favorite local stores! You can also order directly from our website for a great discount. Amazing things continue to happen, and I am so thankful for everyone's support of our little movie. The Mass Bay Film Festival gave PURGATORY HOUSE an encore screening as part of their "Best of the Fest" series this month, and PH brought in the New Year by screening at Zen Sushi on New Year's Eve. The Numbers Movie Review Site is giving away a signed PURGATORY HOUSE DVD as a prize for their contest (pretty cool!), and PH received an "Honorable Mention" in the Fylmz contest. (We were not eligible to be a semi-finalist, since we already have a distribution deal). It was fun to see the Washington Post list PH on their list of "Notable DVDs being released this Tuesday".

I wanted to send out one final, heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who helped support this movie. It's hard to believe that our journey together began over 5 years ago! I think one of the biggest lessons I've learned is that when you have no money, it takes a long time! But we did it, at last....Now, this little film may have the opportunity to make it's way into the hands of parents and teens across the country, and open up doors of communication, and maybe even save lives. I will never forget the part that each of you has played in making this a reality. Thank you for believing in me and Celeste. Thank you for lending your talents, your hearts and your time to project that was so dear to my heart. This could not have happened without each and every one of you, and I will be forever grateful. With much love and gratitude.

December 2006
Woo Hoo! We won yet ANOTHER award! At Blue November PH received "Best Production"! This was especially exciting becaues they only have 4 awards for the entire festival! And it's also really nice being recognized as a producer! Well, It's only 1 short month until our DVD hits stores! Altough the official release date is January 16th, pre-orders are available NOW at our online store. Our price is lower than everyone else's, so hopefully people will support us by ordering directly from us! I've heard that Blockbuster and Hollywood Video stores have placed their orders, and the DVD will be available through Barnes & Noble, Circuit City, Amazon, Netflix among others. If you subscribe to Netflix or Blockbuster online, you can already add Purgatory House to your "cue".

November 2006
I just got back from the North Texas Film Festival where PURGATORY HOUSE took top honors winning "Best Director" and "The Spirit of Independent Filmmaking" Awards!! And they had GREAT press coverage -We were featured on the 10pm news 2 nights in a row, on 2 different channels. On November 4th come see PURGATORY HOUSE at the Blue November Film Festival in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and on November 10th in Seattle, Washington. On November 11th we'll screen at the Mass Bay Film Festival in Worcester, Massachusetts. And don't forget to be our friend on My Space!

October 2006
Things are becoming VERY EXCITING... We just received our MPAA movie rating!! I was expecting it to be "PG-13" since Celeste wrote it at the age of 14. But they rated it an "R"due to drug content,even though I was really careful to never actually show anyone using drugs, and it does not glamorize drug use age all! I think it's strange that if Celeste was still a minor, she would not be able to see the movie that she wrote. Our official DVD release date is January 16th.

Can you help us?? Will you PLEASE go to your local video stores and ask them if they are going to carry PURGATORY HOUSE on DVD this winter?? Will you tell them that you want them to carry it, and CAN'T WAIT to see it? Stores should be placing their orders for the next couple of months, and they make their order based on if they think people will rent or buy it. So please please please help us spread the word. THANKS!!!

July 2006
We've been invited to screen in 2 more film festivals this fall, one in Texas and the other in Massachusetts. The Kid's First Film Festival chose us for their story in their newsletter for July! PH was also mentioned in this article for my short film MORBID CURIOSITY. Johnny Pacar's second season of "Flight 29 Down" starts in September. If you want to write to him, you can find his mailing address on his Purgatory House fan page.

May 2006
PH plays it's 19th film festival this week. Come see us at the Hearts and Minds Film Festival in Dover, Deleware on May 6 th at 7pm. Also, don't forget to check out our new My Space page (And let us know what you think of the new trailer!) You can also see the new trailer by going to our trailers page.

April 2006
Hold onto your hats! I have the news that everyone has been waiting for!!! I am proud to announce that PURGATORY HOUSE has signed on to be distributed by one of the largest and most well-respected DVD distributors in the country! Image Entertainment is a publicly held company that releases lots of great titles including all of the "Twilight Zone" DVDs. Look for PURGATORY HOUSE in stores nationwide sometime around October!

March 2006
PURGATORY HOUSE was nominated for another PRISM Award this year! (The PRISM Awards honor films and TV shows that make a positive difference in the world by accurately portraying drug and alcohol addiction in the media.) Other nominated films include WALK THE LINE and RENT! PH is all set to start a 3-month tour with
Kid's First. The Kid's First Touring Festival is sponsored by Lionsgate, Dreamworks, Fox, Paramount, Sony, HBO, Discovery Kids, United Parenting Publications and Schoolastic Home Entertainment! Look for PH in museums and festivals around the country in April, May and June.

December 2005
What a truly amazing year it has been for our little movie, filled with great press (we began the year appearing on SIX critic's list of "Best Films Of The Year"), new screenings (bringing our grand total to 17 festivals), more awards --including "Best Film" at the Plymouth Film Festival (making 7 festival awards in all!), a 2005 Prism Award nomination, and of course (if all goes as planned) DVD distribution with one of the largest, most well-respected DVD distribution companies in the country!!

And just when you think it can't possibley get better than this... It does!
PURGATORY HOUSE was invited to be an official selection of the Kids First Film and Video Festival, which is the largest children's film festival in the world! Our film will travel with them, screening in 45 cities from January through March, 2006 reaching an audience of more than 75,000 through collaborations with art museums, established film festivals, and similar groups! 2005 selections included the sensational Indie hit MAD HOT BALLROOM, and the Oscar nominated documentary THE STORY OF THE WEEPING CAMEL. What a GREAT way to promote our upcoming DVD release!

Thanks so much to everyone for your continued love and support. This movie would not have been possible without you, and we are so grateful. Have a wonderful holiday season, and a happy new year!

November 2005
Playing at the Queens International Film Festival (in New York City) on November 20th, marked the 17th Film Festival for PURGATORY HOUSE!! Although we were not able to personally attend this screening, I hear PH had almost a full house, and that the screening went great! What a truly amazing journey this has been!

October 2005
Here is the news you've been waiting for!! PURGATORY HOUSE has been offered distribution by the largest DVD distributor in the USA and Canada! I had been very selective, (meeting ONLY with companies who have been personally referred to us), and this amazing, well respected, publicly held company --that I know would do a great job with our film-- wants to distribute PH! We are working out all the details now, and if all goes as planned, our little movie will be in all of the major stores (Blockbuster, Walmart, Best Buy, etc.) very soon! Stay tuned...

September 2005
We had a blast at the Oxford Film Festival where PH screened at the gorgeous, brand new, state-of-the-art Ford Theater, which seats 1200 people! Fantastic, receptive audience! At the beginning of this month Associate Producer Matt Irving finished writing the first draft of ODD BRODSKY -my next feature directing project!

August 2005
This month PURGATORY HOUSE screened for 200 actors as part of the Screen Actor's Guild ROLL FILM Indie series. What a great Audience! See pics. PH actor Howard Lockie just shot a role in the film BOPPIN' AT THE GLUE FACTORY, actor Johnny Pacar hosted an episode of Disney's "Click It To Pick It" on August 27th, our Production Designer James W. Thomspson Jr. is designing CBS's Big Brother season 6, and Jason Ybarra is on the UPN show "Cuts" at Paramount Studios.

July 2005
PURGATORY HOUSE won "Best Film" at the Plymouth Independent Film Festival, bringing our total to 8 awards!! Click here to see pics. Other movies that played the fest were HOTEL RWANDA,THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES and THE SEA INSIDE. Earlier this month I ran into Haylie Duff at the Screen Actor's Guild, who told me she LOVED LOVED LOVED our movie! (Haylie was at our L.A. Premiere screening.) Tune into the Disney Channel on Saturday, July 2nd at 8pm, ET/PT when Johnny Pacar, who plays Sam, will host an episode of Disney's "Click It To Pick It".

June 2005
We've been getting a ton of press for our screening next month in Massachusetts. Check out our mention in the Boston Globe and this big feature story in the Patriot Ledger! Our heart-felt thanks go out again to Natalie Merchant for her continued support, announcing her involvement with our movie on her website. And congratulations to Celeste for graduating high school!

May 2005
On May 15th (only 2 days after returning from my honeymoon) PH was honored to screen as the "Closing Night Film" at the Pacific Palisades Film Festival! A big feature story on PH appeared in the Palisidian Post, and I did an interview for a wrestling website. Why not? It's on this page under the "Dale Peirce Film Section link. On May 25th, the PURGATORY HOUSE party at Monroe's in West Hollywood was a blast! It was great seeing so many familiar faces, including Johnny Pacar and Jim Hanks who signed autographs.

April 2005
The Prism Awards Ceremony was April 28th (just 2 Days before my wedding!) at the Beverly Hills Hotel! It was INCREDIBLE to be nominated for the same award as people like Jamie Foxx, Scarlett Johansson, Ashley Judd, John Travolta, and Christopher Walken! We even ran into Rick Schroder again, who we last saw him in San Diego, when both of our films took home awards. Mark your calendars for May 25th when we will be throwing a big party to celebrate finishing all of the extras for the DVD! Since our PRISM nomination, we've been contacted by about 30 more distribution companies! And our DVD is almost ready for them!

March 2005
PURGATORY HOUSE was nominated for a PRISM Award! (The PRISM Awards honor films and TV shows that make a positive difference in the world by accurately portraying drug and alcohol addiction) Other nominees include the films: RAY and DeLOVELY, and the TV shows: "E.R.", "NYPD Blue", "Everwood","Desperate Housewives" and "8 Simple Rules". The awards ceremony show is set to air on the FX channel! Also check out this great article on PH that appeared in the NoHo Magazine. This month we finished editing our behind the scenes footage into the "Making of" videos.

February 2005
More great news! One of our lead actors is quickly becoming the newest teen star!
Girls from all around the country have been emailing PH to learn more about the talented Johnny Pacar, who plays Sam. Currently Johnny is starring in Disney's original movie titled NOW YOU SEE IT, which aired throughout January, and will air next on February 7th and 19th on the Disney Channel. Johnny will also be appearing as a lead in NBC's new TV series "Flight 29 Down" which is in currently shooting in Hawaii.

This month PH landed a fantastic review by Bill Chamber's in the well-respected "iviews" column for Film Freak Central! (Since PH was included on their "Best of 2004" list last month, we figured the review would be very positive!) Okay...And for all of you who have been waiting so patiently for our own DVD to come out, I have great news --they should be available for sale on our website by April!! Stay tuned!

January 2005
Happy New Year! PURGATORY HOUSE is already off and running with an AMAZING start to the year! Are you ready for this?? PH appeared on SIX "best of" lists for 2004!!!! (and we've only had about 8 reviews this year total!) And...They include TWO number 1 positions!!!!!

The first is on the prestigious Film Threat site, in their article called: "Film Threat's Best of 2004: Indies to look out for in 2005". Todd David Schwartz from CBS Radio also put us in the number 1 spot, on his list entitled "Top Ten Film You Probably Haven't Seen, But Should: 2004 Edition"! Then we appeared on eFilmCritic's list (alphabetically), called "The Best Unbought, Unseen, and Annoyingly Undistributed Films of 2004" with a bunch of other films that made the festival rounds with us last year (including THE TALENT GIVEN US, A LEAGUE OF ORDINARY GENTLEMEN and DOUBLE DARE). It's incredible that all of these critics are actively championing true indies like us, to help us find distribution. We also received an honorable mention from Bill Chambers at Film Freak Central, appeared on Qwipster's Movie Reviews, "Top Ten Films" list in a section called "Noteworthy Films I Haven't Seen Yet" (Wow! Our reputation is preceding us!), and are due to appear on the list for Bangin' Banana Reviews. This month PH is featured in Film Festival Today Magazine's "Circuit Buzz" column, Winter/Sundance edition (and handed out free in Park City !) Be sure to pick one up!

December 2004
December was a hectic month. Between the holidays and wedding planning, I managed to come very close to finalizing our music licenses! Only 2 left out of 28. If all goes well, I hope to have all of our rights secured in the next few weeks! Thanks to our amazingly talented musicians for providing such incredible music for the movie including the songs: "My Skin" performed by Natalie Merchant, "Kiss Off" by the Violent Femmes", "Mister Smiley Face" by Grammy-nominated Eric Bazilion, "Don't Fear the Reaper" by Blue Oyster Cult", Spirit in the Sky" by Norman Greenbaum, "Magic Carpet Ride", "Kid's in America" and "I will Survive". And to Larisa Stow, Dan Murphy &Tommy Byrnes, Vinny Menten, Jennifer Fokler &Keith Schreiner, Breck Alan, John Swihart and the Mandrakes.

I was also approached by a TV producer who is interested in teaming with me to pitch PH to the networks as a weekly series!

November 2004
What a hectic and wonderful month filled with lots of great press and forward motion! I spoke on a filmmaking panel at the LA Convention Center with Chris Wyatt (producer of NAPOLEAN DYNAMITE), PH was officially submitted for PRISM award consideration, and we learned that PH got a FilmBUZZ score of 8.5 (out of 10), when it played at the San Diego Film Festival! Woo-hoo! PH received it's very first review on the radio. Todd David Schwartz of CBS Radio gave us FOUR STARS -the highest rating!! He said the film was "Amazing and brilliant! A cinematic gem that demands to be seen." PH also received 2 more written reviews (Cinematic Verses, and, and a mention inside a review for THE RAPTURE.

Finally, we received some AMAZING news: Natalie Merchant wants to support our movie! She offered to let us her beautiful song "My Skin" for free! Besides being an incredibly talented artist, Natalie is an amazing human being, who cares about making a difference in the world. She also is going to be promoting PURGATORY HOUSE on her website!! We are so grateful to have her on our team!

October 2004
This month brought PH another award "Best Screenplay" at the San Diego Film Festival (making a total of 6 awards now!), 3 more film festivals (bringing the total to 12), 2 great new reviews (from Jesse Knight at Bangin Banana Reviews and from a Canadian site called The-Numbers), plus a new interview on Film Threat! Film Threat has been so supportive of PH – this makes 5 feature stories they've done for us on their site!

Karl Kozak did an amazing job as programmer of the San Diego Film Festival. PH screened alongside well-known indies like: DEAR FRANKIE, PRIMER, and THE MACHINIST at the historic Pacific Gaslamp Theater. It was fun meeting celebrities like Phyllis Diller, Michael Ironside, and Rick Schroder. The Awards Ceremony was hosted by Extra!'s Michael Corbett. PH actresses Katrina Gourley and Regine Tamba were in attendance, along with Celeste, her proud father, and Cindy. It was fun being on World Talk Radio right after Ricky Schroder ("NYPD Blue", "Silver Spoons")!

Then it was off to the 27th Mill Valley Film Festival in beautiful Northern California. This top tier festival was incredible: great people, movies, classy events, and well attended screenings. The lineup included: I HEART HUCKABEES, FINDING NEVERLAND, TARNATION and PRIMER. Celeste and I were honored to be featured on the 21st Century Filmmaking Panel, alongside Jonathan Caouette (TARNATION), and veteran directors Rob Nilsson, and Robert M Young. PH had 2 screenings in San Francisco, plus an extra outreach screening for an at-risk boy's teen resident high school. They all LOVED PH!!! That Q&A felt especially rewarding. It was also great fun reuniting with director Susan Haley, who gave me my very first paid job as an actress, back in Massachusetts many years ago! We didn't get to go to the Vermont Film Festival personally (rats!) but festival director Mira said it went GREAT!

September 2004
Guess what! PURGATORY HOUSE won TWO more awards!! The Silverlake Film Festival awarded us "Best First Feature" and "
Best Performance in a Feature" for Celeste! We screened at the beautiful state-of-the-art Arclight Cinemas in Hollywood. Some other features included DEAR FRANKIE, THE YES MEN, and I AM DAVID. It was fun seeing celebrities like Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal , Laura Dern, and Mark Ruffalo hanging around. Jesse Knight, a reporter from the film site Bangin' Banana covered the festival, and we were featured prominently in the story!

The Big Bear Film Festival was great. PH appeared in print (a feature story in the Big Bear Grizzly), on the radio (KBHR) and on TV ("Good Morning Big Bear")! And we were one of the only features to have a full house! It was fun meeting actress Linda Hamilton and legendary cinematographer Lazslo Kovacs. (see photos) A little bird told me that we have a bunch of press headed our way in the next month!

August 2004
Great News! PH has been invited to screen at FIVE more AWESOME film festivals!! It's extremely difficult trying to prepare for so many festivals at one time, but these are wonderful problems to have. PH will be screening at the San Diego Film Festival at the Pacific Theaters on October 3, the Silverlake Film Festival at the Arclight Theaters in Hollywood on September 28, Big Bear Lake International Film Festival at the Village Theaters on September 18. The fourth festival is the Mill Valley Film Festival! (another TOP-TIER Festival! Yahoo!) Celeste and I are headed off to Northern California. We have 2 screenings there and a filmmaker panel discussion. The last festival is The Vermont International Film Festival, the "world's oldest human rights festival". Hope to see you there!

July 2004
This month's press included the cover-story for AV Producer Magazine (with a 7-photo spread!), an article in Creative Screenwriting Magazine in "The Buzz" column (where it calls PH "a remarkable piece of filmmaking!"), and a Variety review. Apparently a journalist from Variety reviewed PH when we played Texas in April, and just published it now. He didn't like it. (Rats!) But he did say that PH was "Visually Striking", and would have a teen following. To my knowledge, that's only our 3rd negative criticism in over 35 publications! Not a bad ratio!! huh? Shortly after this, I was delighted to receive a call from the LA Weekly, who is considering PH for an upcoming story on film phenomena! We'd be alongside the indie hit TARNATION, which is being released in October.
I also found this neat little write-up in the LA Independent, that said: “Over the weekend, while at the rebellious Dances With Films festival waiting for the excellently-constructed low-budget Purgatory House to begin (if any distributor is smart enough to pick this up; you won't believe this sophisticated, inventive feature, which chronicles a teenage suicide victim's time in the realm between heaven and hell, was written by a 13-year-old)..." (the whole article is on our press links page)

June 2004
June was a crazy, wonderful, whirlwind of a month, jam-packed with 3
prestigious film festivals in 3 different states in two weeks!

Michigan:At the Waterfront Film Festival, PH was selected as 1 of only 15 narrative features screening in a lineup of almost entirely mainstream indies including: NAPOLEON DYNAMITE and SAVED!" WFF flew Celeste, Jim Hanks and myself there, and put us all up at a beautiful hotel on the lake. They championed PH to the press landing us feature stories in the Chicago Tribune, 2 separate articles with large photos in the Grand Rapids Press, and Celeste was on the Fox Evening News! Only 2 days after we arrived, we had to fly back to LA for our West Coast Premiere with Dances With Films that night!

Los Angeles:We arrived in Los Angeles at 9am. Our screening was at 9pm. Our LA premiere at the historic Leammle theater in Santa Monica was an awesome experience. WireImage (a high profile news photo site that covers HUGE events like the Oscars) covered our big night, and posted pics to their site! Canon USA sponsored our after-party at the Kings Head Restaurant, with delicious food, henna tattoos, fortune telling and framed photo keepsakes for each guest. (Click here to view pics.) Larry Deutchman and Kenny Paul from the Prism Awards loved PH! DWF set me up with an interview with the Film Festival Channel (a new station starting in January). The next day the head of acquisitions from Focus Features called me himself! Then I got emails from a few more distributors and sales agents. Then I was contacted by a literary agent regarding representing Celeste as a writer!! Closing night of DWF we were honored to receive an Audience Award! At 7am the very next morning, I was on a plane headed for Massachusettes.

Massachusetts: The Provincetown Film Festival had a great slate of prestigious films. Again, PH screened alongside almost entirely mainstream indies including: COFFEE AND CIGARETTES, SAVED!, DEAR FRANKIE, MARIA FULL OF GRACE, OPEN WATER & DEBS. Docs include: WORD WARS, HOW TO DRAW A BUNNY, and THE CORPORATION!! After Provincetown ended I flew to New York, all ready to have our distributor screening...and it turned into a nightmare! The screening room had technical problems that could not be fixed. I had to go into a lobby filled with top acquisitions people from amazing companies like Samuel Goldwyn Films, Focus Features, Paramount Classics, Miramax, HBO Films, and NewMarket, and tell them that they came here for nothing! It was a heartbreaking day. Luckily when one door closes another exciting door always seems to open. The very next day, Canon USA invited PURGATORY HOUSE together with the film 28 DAYS LATER (which was also shot using the Canon XL1S) to be showcased at a HUGE press conference at the Weston Hotel in Times Square in New York City in a few weeks! Everyone from American Cinematographer to Rolling Stone Magazine will receive a screening copy in a gift bag that will be handed out to over 50 trade publications! What an amazing marketing opportunity! And how prestigious to be championed by one of the most respected camera companies in the world!

May 2004
Publicity seems to be our middle name! We were just featured in thePasadena Weekly, and have upcoming feature stories in AV Magazine (besides being available on newsstands, it will be handed out free at DV Expo East in July) and Creative Screenwriting Magazine next month. The Learning Channel is considering doing a three day shoot with Celeste and me for "A Makeover Story"! Also thanks to my publicist friend (you know who you are!), who pitched us to 20/20! We were also selected by IFP/Los Angeles for their monthly series at the PacificDesign Center (unfortunately we can't do it because they only project film prints), and invited into 2 more film festivals! And lots more interestfrom distributors! The momentum is really kicking up, and I think the time for adistributor screening might be very soon.

April 2004
What an AMAZING, INCREDIBLE month this has been... While I was at the Palm Beach Intl. Film Festival in Florida, I received the news that PURGATORY HOUSE won the audience award in France!! Then in Texas we won “Best First Feature”! At PBIFF, PH was the “buzz” movie of the festival, and IndieWire (a TOP Indie film site) singled us out for praise!

INDIEWIRE says: “PURGATORY HOUSE, written by and starring the gifted 14-year-old Celeste Marie Davis, is all about a young girl who commits suicide and winds up in purgatory... With top-notch cinematography by Christopher S. Nibley and an attractive cast, first-time director/producer Cindy Baer seems to a have a film that will intrigue junior high/high school kids nationwide.” (The article is called “Some Pain, Some Gain at 9th Palm Beach Intl. Film Festival”. Click on the link to read the full story.)

PH got another great response in Florida. (It was pretty cool playing in a gorgeous new multiplex across from KILL BILL Vol. 2.) The Q&A’s were moving and a few people cried again (including me). The day after our first screening I ran into a teenage boy, who was wearing our postcard as a badge around his neck! He had also written “Purgatory House” on his arm like a tattoo -like in the movie. We got great publicity including interviews on four radio shows. Ray Mickshaw, an awesome photographer from, was there covering the festival, and took some neat photos. I arrived only hours before our screening in Texas, but we still got a solid turnout! I loved speaking on the filmmaker panel, and the awards gala was a multicultural delight. You can tell the people who run these festivals just adore what they do. I felt the TLC. (Click here to see pics of the festival)

March 2004
When Entertainment Insiders named PURGATORY HOUSE "Fourth Best Film of 2003" in January (scroll down to check it out), I was thrilled. I thought that it just couldn't get any better than that. And then an amazing thing happened at the American Film Market. A scout from Oprah Magazine was there looking for stories, and found us!! They are pitching an "exclusive" on PURGATORY HOUSE for the magazine to start! They have already watched the screener, and we've made it to the next level where the "people high up" are going to screen the movie! (I wonder if it will be Oprah herself?)

Four days before the AFM, I received an invite from IFP/Los Angeles (the organization that does the Spirit Awards and the LA Film Festival) for PURGATORY HOUSE to be 1 of only 6 films they would be showcasing at their booth at the AFM! Being promoted at their booth gave us great validation, and having our full-length trailer playing there made it easy to peak interest. (This was especially good for us, because I was not giving out screeners.) Distribution companies and filmmakers were blown away by our amazing one-sheets. (Thanks to!) Several distribution companies, sales agents, and producer's reps are interested in PH. One company even offered us theatrical distribution on the spot after we watched the whole movie in their office!!

Right now the problem is that most companies no longer pay advances. We need this upfront advance to pay for deferred music rights (for the many well-known songs we use) and SAG upgrades. Maybe if the Oprah thing comes through it will put us in a better position to receive the advance we need to get the rights cleared to sell the movie. I can't imagine that after all this, it would not all work out. I believe it will. It has to.

February 2004
Lots of news on the Film Festival front: We were invited to screen in THREE different film festivals in April: the American Independent Film Festival (April 15-18), at the Palm Beach International Film Festival (April 15-22), and finally at Worldfest Houston (April 16-25). It's pretty neat that we will have screenings in France, Florida and Texas all in the same week!

Film Festival Today Magazine (an awesome publication) invited me to write a feature story for them a few months ago. They loved how it turned out, and positioned us on the back page of the Winter/Sundance edition! They said this was a "position of honor". It's still in newsstands if you want to see the slick hardcopy version with the photos and cool graphics. Or check it out online (without the photos and graphics) at: “From Purgatory to Cinematic Heaven”!

January 2004
Are you ready for this?? Entertainment Insiders named "Purgatory House" fourth best film of 2003!!! (click on the link to read the article.) Our little feature – which doesn't even have distribution yet, and has only had one public screening – is included in this "top ten list"! #1 was LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING, #2 is SEABISCUIT, #3 is THE BARBARIAN INVASIONS and #4 is PURGATORY HOUSE (tied with THIRTEEN)!!!! We are just thrilled. Last year their undistributed pick for the list was a little film called CITY OF GOD (which happens to be up for a bunch of academy awards this year, as I write this!)

Lots of incredible publicity opportunities abound as well. Bernie Weinraub from the New York Times said that PH was fantastic, and once we get distribution he will pitch doing a feature on us for them! Venice Magazine is also potentially interested in a story. Canon USA is revamping their website to showcase filmmaker profiles, and they are going to feature us as the first story! They are also going to be running trade ads that include us! They love the extensive use of visual effects in PH. Until next time...

December 2003
What an amazing month it's been for publicity! The awesome and well-respected indie film site Film Threat (who gave PURGATORY HOUSE 4.5 stars out of 5 in its review), invited me and Celeste to do feature interviews! Mine is titled "Cindy Baer walks through Purgatory" and Celeste's is "Celeste Davis: the heart and soul of Purgatory House" Click on the links to check them out!

Next I was flattered to learn that Entertainment Insiders mentioned PH in the review of another film titled CAUTIVA. The second to last paragraph says: "So many good films have been released this year about young girls who are saddled with a myriad of authentic problems...Each of these movies feature strong stories and even stronger performances by the young female stars...Like the other films mentioned above, the director tightens his focus on his young star, her thoughts and solutions." Although we have only been reviewed by 4 critics so far, one of them told our publicist that we are a contender for his "top ten" list for 2003!!!!

Another highlight this month was receiving a phone call from legendary producer Laura Ziskin (SPIDERMAN, PRETTY WOMAN, AS GOOD AS IT GETS), who called personally to say how much she loved PURGATORY HOUSE! She said it was "phenomenal and spectacular!" and it "had to be seen!"

Ellen Sherman of the Woodstock Times gave us a nice write up, and look for my TV interview on the "Hollywood Variety Show" which will air on December 15th. We finally finished the music video for "Claire's Prayer" by Larisa Stow! This and the "behind the scenes" will be cool extras for a DVD. Remember, Purgatory House T-shirts and posters make wonderful holiday gifts, and support a good cause. Happy Holidays!

November 2003
PURGATORY HOUSE was on National Public Radio! NPR's David D'Arcy saw our film at Woodstock and thought it was powerful. I was interviewed along with Gus Van Sant, director of ELEPHANT, (which won the top prize at Cannes this year) and Ben Coccia's, director of ZERO DAY. The feature story is called "Trio of Films Influenced by Columbine Shootings" and aired on "All Things Considered". Click onto the above link to hear an actual clip from PH, along with the interviews. It was fun hearing from friends &strangers all across the country who listened to the broadcast. I even got a phone call from a reporter in Scotland!

After 3 wonderful reviews from FILM THREAT, ENTERTAINMENT INSIDERS and EFILMCRITIC (scroll down to October for links), we got a mediocre review. Waaa. I was disappointed that our streak of having only great reviews was broken. But the very next day I got an extraordinary email from a woman who attended our World Premiere in New York that put things into perspective again. She wrote that seeing PURGATORY HOUSE changed her life! She realized that she'd been wallowing in self-pity for her whole life about terrible things that have happened to her (and they were indeed terrible things). As she was sitting there watching PH, and her friend next to her was laughing with the audience, she was crying – happy tears, because it had just occurred to her that happiness begins with deciding to be happy. Even if this miscellaneous reviewer didn't get the movie, SHE did! She got it! Our film changed someone's life, and if nothing more ever comes of this, it was all worth it!

I'm working on an article for "Film Festival Today Magazine" about my experience as a first-time director at my first film festival. It's going to be harder to get into major film festivals now, because I hear that most of them won't take films that have already screened at another festival that was not a "top 5". I hope I made the right decision not waiting... But I just couldn't. It didn't feel right. PH is timely and needs to get out into the world now!

October 2003
I don't know where to begin with all of the exciting news! Before I report on our World Premiere screenings, I'd like to share a bit of happy personal news...
The day after I returned home, Matthew Irving (yes, our Associate Producer – who is actually a brilliant cinematographer in real life) proposed to me! It was incredibly romantic, and now I am officially engaged!

Here's the news you've really been waiting for... The World Premiere Screenings of PURGATORY HOUSE in New York were a smashing success! PH was the sole feature story that ran in the New York Post Sunday edition right before the festival! We were the buzz of the festival, and played to 2 sold out houses! I'm still shocked and amazed at how well it went!

Woodstock's lineup of films was very select including only 22 features, most of which were big indies with big stars that played the top festivals! We found ourselves screening with movies like: PIECES OF APRIL (starring Katie Holmes and Patricia Clarkson), THE BARBARIAN INVASIONS by Denys Arcand and SHATTERED GLASS (starring Hayden Christensen).

It was fun meeting some of the celebs who attended, like Woody Harrelson, Olympia Dukakis, Marcia Gay Harden, Lili Taylor, Annabella Sciorra, Liev Schrieber and Dan Hedaya at all the different parties during the 5-day festival! Aidan Quinn led the Q&A at the screening before PURGATORY HOUSE at the Upstate Theaters! Well respected journalists from Indiewire, Variety, The New York Post, NPR and Entertainment Weekly were abound as well. Check out the Woodstock photos link and see if you recognize anyone you know!

In attendance at the festival from the PH cast were lead actors Jim Hanks and Devin Witt, both of whom I am happy to report really liked the movie! Devin said it was better than he imagined it could be! From the crew, I finally got to meet our brilliant graphic design team (3 Dogz Creative) who drove all the way from Toronto, Canada! We've been working together for over 2 years, and had never met in person! Our editor, Ken Gruca came all the way from San Francisco, and my partner-in-crime, Katrina Gourley (Casting Director/First AD/Actress), who made the long hall from LA with me. We had a blast! It was pretty neat seeing our posters in the window at a real movie theater!

After each screening, we did a Q&A and some of the comments from the audience were awesome. One woman said she was a teen drug counselor, and she felt passionately that this movie should be shown at every high school because it would save lives! A father (who has a teen in a drug rehab) was so happy he got in and got to see it (we were sold out, but he was determined). He connected deeply with the relationship between Silver and the dad, and it made him feel not so alone! Another woman came up to me in tears and just thanked me. One high school boy told me this was one of his all-time favorite movies! Then his friend came up to him, and said "I've only cried at 2 movies in my whole life, and this was one of them!" A younger boy who looked about 12 years old called PH a "masterpiece" and said this movie made him want to stay far away from drugs. In line the next day I heard a woman talking to a friend about this profound movie she had just seen, and how she could not stop thinking about it...and it was PURGATORY HOUSE! It was an amazing experience to have people finally seeing it, and responding so positively!

And then...We got our first 3 official movie reviews! I am happy to report that they are all extremely positive! FILMTHREAT called PH "a charming, touching, clever and all-around brilliantly crafted film" and gave 4.5 out of 5 Stars! ENTERTAINMENT INSIDERS said we the film was "original and unforgettable" and gave us 3.5 out of 4 stars! And EFILMCRITIC said it was "fascinating to absorb and compelling to contemplate" and gave us 4 out of 5 stars! Ellen Sherman of the Woodstock Times said "Watching PURGATORY HOUSE is to experience what audiences must have felt in 1939 seeing THE WIZARD OF OZ for the first time” I love that! It's an amazing feeling that people are supporting this project that's been my life's work for the past 2 years!

The distributors say they all want something new and original... Let's see if they really mean it. The cool thing is that not only is PH very different, but I think when you watch it knowing that it's the actual thoughts of a teenager, it's actually important, and enlightening. And I'm glad others are seeing the value in it's voice!

We finally had the raffle drawing last Friday night. It was good seeing those who attended! I'm happy to announce that the winners are... Angela Lepito, Linda Rohrbacher, Jim Thompson, Susan Haley, Joey Adams, Bette Rae Brown & Sheli Crume. Thanks so much to everyone for your support. Purgatory House T-shirts and posters are now available! Please support us by ordering one and wearing.

September 2003
In just two days we are off to New York for the World Premiere of PURGATORY HOUSE! Our official screenings will be on September 20th and 21st! Still so much to do! Put labels on postcards, send out invitations to distributors, try and get some publicity! We printed our first-full size posters and they look amazing! They will be hanging in the lobby of the venues. Also made T-shirts to wear around New York. It's exciting! Can't wait to tell you how it goes! Wish us luck! Click here if you want to see our listing in the festival guide.

We just heard back from the first film critic to review the movie.. It's for, and it's great news! He loved the movie! In an email to us he said he's very excited about it, and especially loved the story and soundtrack! (Our publicist said he's a "tough cookie" too!)

Woodstock gave celebrity reporter Martha Frankel our movie screener to watch. Martha called me personally to tell me how much she loved it! She said "This is a movie I have not seen before" She loved how original it was. She said she was howling with laughter at times, and other times she just really felt for the main character. She invited me be on the a radio show talking about the movie on Sunday morning at 8:30! (at 5:30a.m. pacific time..sleepy!) That same Sunday, our first feature article in a newspaper appeared in the Sunday New York Post with a great big movie-still of Celeste! (The online version doesn't have this picture.) It was really neat seeing it in the movie section of a paper next to big movies that are currently playing in theaters! The same day the review came out! What a great day!

August 2003
Woodstock seems really excited to have us there. Everyone I talk to has seen the screener and loves it! They put our movie-still on the cover of the pre-festival flyer for Woodstock, and sent me a copy. It looks great! It's pretty cool to see Celeste's sweet face next to Woody Harrelson, Katie Holmes and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Skip (the guy who cut the trailers for KISSING JESSICA STEIN) just put together the first version of our trailer, and it's looking really good. Greg (who edited the awesome short called TOM HITS HIS HEAD, that won the Slamdance award last year) has put together the first cut of the music video for the song "Claire's Prayer". It's so exciting! We shot footage of singer Larisa Stow on the set of PURGATORY HOUSE, and now we are making a music video as one of our "extras". Our "Making of" documentary is on hold for now. But it's in good shape. A bit too long at 60 minutes, but it's easy enough to cut things out. Besides that we've just been getting ready for the festival. Our associate producer wrote an awesome article on the democracy of filmmaking that appeared in the ezine.

July 2003
The Woodstock Film Festival called and invited ut to have our World Premiere screening with them in New York! FilmThreat gave us a really great write up on their website. I met with a foreign distribution consultant, and he thought PURGATORY HOUSE has distribution potential, so he introduced me to a sales agent and a distribution company. The sales rep. loved the movie! He's very excited about it. He said that the movie was "like a good book you can't put down". He called it "art" and actually said --this is a quote-- he thought it was "one of the most brilliant pieces of filmmaking he's seen"! I was totally shocked. and then....the distribution company offered us distribution! (The first people we showed it to!!) It was just for home video and DVD, so I'm going to hold off for now. But it was so amazing that people are actually responding really well to the movie!! It feels really good. I really think this project could help so many invisible kids.

June 2003
It's unbelievable to think of everything that goes into making a movie. It's such hard work. It all started with the preproduction process (casting 29 speaking roles & 32 extras, filling 35 full-time crew positions, finding the 27 locations, building 9 sets on an insert stage, choosing 90 costumes, decisions (which camera, frame rate, ratio, how to shoot onset, what will created in post), sound equipment & team, shot listing, scheduling, catering meals, craft service, insurance, trucks, lights, equipment, tape & DAT stock, budgets, endless paperwork, set-teachers, contracts, work permits, unions, forming a LLC, payroll and the tasks go on and on...)

Then there was the production itself; the actual 18-day shoot. We had three 6-day weeks. There's never enough time. Shooting scenes out of order, you must pay careful attention to the continuity. Fitting everything into minor hour days. Emergencies all the time. Put the fire out! Who called SAG on us?! Some days not knowing where we'd be shooting the next day. Thank God we had a 2-camera shoot. UG!

And finally the post production. The movie is "in the can", so no more worrying about "making our days"! Yippee! Time to find the post crew (including 13 effects artists, editor, composer, sound editing team, etc.), & all of the editing and sound equipment. Then the editing process begins: watching all 52 hours of footage, picking selects, digitizing low res media and DAT tapes, synching sound, listening to all the music submissions (and choosing songs from Breck Alan and Dahlia!). After 8 weeks, the first rough cut is finished, need more hard drives. Some of the effects shots are back. Some effects shots are not even assigned yet! Transfer to hi-res, and drop the handles, begin to score, sound edit of adr, foley, bgs and dialogue cleaning, pre-sound mix, titles, subtitles, getting sync and master licenses for all the music, rendering, reframing each shot, color designing and then color correcting. It was fun remaking a version of the songs "Kids' in American" and "I will survive" (just for our movie) at a Signet Sound with the band The Mandrakes. Still waiting for all the effects to come back, need tweaking. Will we ever be done? (Why did I choose to have so many effects shots?) Conforming the movies from Final Cut Pro onto digitbeta, final sound mix at Widget Post, and adding the Filmlook process at the Filmlook lab in Burbank. And now it's done! We did it! Celeste this is your movie!

Celeste moved back from Michigan just in time to for us to be guest speakers on a filmmaker panel for Canon USA! It was at the LA Convention Center, and was a blast! We showed some PH clips, and some of the "behind the scenes" video. (We shot 15 hours of "behind the scenes" footage and interviews, which is turning out to be a very nice "making of " documentary!) Everyone was impressed by the effects in our feature. We have extensive blue and green screen composites (which are VERY hard to do well in this format). I think all together we have over 200 effects shots!

All of the other filmmakers on the panel had won big awards from big festivals. Some of their clips were wonderful! I ran into April Sugerman, who I had known as an actress a few years back. April's short was the first digital short to go to Cannes! Later Canon took all the filmmakers out to a fancy dinner downtown. Very fun!

May 2003
Exciting news! I showed the almost finished cut to Thomas Ethan Harris, who was a founder of the Los Angeles Film Festival and consulted on such movies as the BLAIR WITCH PROJECT & KISSING JESSICA STEIN and who discovered & first programmed the film GEORGE WASHINGTON. He said he thinks we might have something here! I met Thomas through Matt (our associate producer – who is an extremely talented cinematographer in real life), and who knows Thomas through his own work. Thomas loved PURGATORY HOUSE! He said that "some moments were brilliant"! He loved the honesty, and said it reminds him of a modern day Molly Ringwald movie! I could see that! He went with me to do a projection test at AFI, and he said the coloring of the timelines was beautiful! It was so exciting! Especially since it's taken me 6 weeks, working full-time days (or more) just to color this movie! It make a difference!

Press kits are in the works. Coming up with a good synopsis to describe this movie is hard! We are so lucky to already have some cool stuff to put in it, including a 4-page feature story that Celeste wrote for SCR(I)PT magazine, and my article that appeared in "Guerrilla Filmmaker", and the Interview Celeste did for I wish there was a way to put in audio clips from when we were on KFI...

Until next time...


Top to page In memory of Silver Marie Strand

2004 Free Dream Pictures, LLC. All rights reserved.

Purgatory House Recent News updates. Awards, Reviews, Best film of the Year, Movie by a 14-year-old girl.