It’s one of the essential questions we face as humans: what happens after we die? Do we go to heaven? Are we reincarnated? What if there’s nothing? All forms of media have tried to answer this question and for all any of us know, any of them could be the right answer. While the short “Purgatory Inc.” doesn’t answer that big question, it does make for an entertaining look into the afterlife’s waiting room.
“Purgatory Inc” starts with a man (co-writer Konstantin Lavysh) sitting at a desk in a black room. In pops Christopher (played by Patrick Cavanaugh of “Mad Men”) who has just died in an accident along with his partner.
After some brief confusion and a glance over Christopher’s file, the man at the desk decides that while Christopher has been an outstanding citizen in life, he is still destined for Catholic Hell. It would seem that Catholicism is not too fond of homosexuality and sees it as a sin. After some clever maneuvering, however, Christopher finds himself joining his husband in the afterlife.
The script, by Boris Kievsky and Konstantin Lavysh, is very witty. As we are constantly finding out, religion and homosexuality are topics that can be very divisive. However, Kievsky (who is also director) and Lavysh bring an emotional argument to mix, without being preachy and while still being entertaining. And while the effects may not be anything to write home about, everything else is spot on. At less than eight minutes, I found myself wishing that “Purgatory Inc.” could continue on as a film or the very least a series pilot.
Below is an interview with “Purgatory Inc.” star Patrick Cavanaugh. In the interview, Cavanaugh talks about how he got involved in “Purgatory Inc.,” the future of the short, and gives us a cliff hanger as to what he’ll be for Halloween.
It’s Just Movies: How did you get involved in “Purgatory Inc.”?
Patrick Cavanaugh: A friend of mine was casting the project for Boris and set up a meeting. It was a simple and boring as that.
IJM: After working on television and films, how does working on a short compare?
PC: It’s different in the sense that when you are doing a short or a passion project and the budget is on the smaller side, it’s a little bit more of a group effort. Everyone is working extra hard, because you don’t have the crew size that you would normally have on a show. But other than that, there’s still a camera, a director and actors trying to make some art.
IJM: Seven minutes is a short amount of time to explore a character. What was your method of bringing depth to Christopher?
PC: Well, we had a few rehearsals to explore the journey of Christopher. First, we had to figure out how to capture what it would be like to realize you are dead. And then as the scene unfolds, realizing that there is still double standards in Purgatory. I love pieces like this, because it’s a fantasy world, but the commentary on the absurdities in “real life” are poignant and thought provoking … or at least you hope they are at the end of the day.
IJM: The plot of “Purgatory Inc.” is a bit controversial, but important I believe. Was this something that was discussed between you and the director, writers, etc.?
PC: Absolutely! I remember sitting down with Boris the very first time we met, and we talked a lot about religion and gay marriage and it was evident that we both had strong feelings about these topics. They are topics that are so divisive in our would right now, and I was excited to be apart of a short that poked fun at it all in a smart way.
IJM: Mixing homosexuality with religion is tricky at best. Do you feel “Purgatory Inc.” is a reaction against that kind of ideology or a sort of solution to the problem?
PC: I think Boris and Konstantin could better answer this question, but I will say it’s a topic that should be and needs to be discussed. I do feel like once we, as a society, stop trying to put people into categories and label people that are “different” than us as bad or weird or whatever, we will all live a MUCH healthier existence. I think we’ve all experienced this on some level, but when you really get to know a person one on one, your preconceived notions are usually wrong. But it’s easier to hate or judge when we don’t understand someone, so it really all comes down to being open to others and their experiences. I am now stepping down from my soap box.
IJM: I found the script for “Purgatory Inc.” particularly witty. As an actor, do you prefer to do comedic or dramatic scenes?
PC: I know this is an unsatisfying answer, but I love doing both. As an actor, when something is well written, all the hard stuff is taken care of for you. You just have to step into that character and let the words take you on the journey.
IJM: What do you believe happens to us after we die?
PC: I have no clue. So I try to enjoy life to it’s fullest … you never know if this is your only shot at it all.
IJM: What’s the future of “Purgatory Inc.”?
PC: Festivals and world domination.
IJM: What’s next for you?
PC: I’ve had a recurring character (Smitty) on “Mad Men” for the past three seasons, so that has been a blast, to say the least. Also had a fun episode of “The Mentalist” air recently. I have a few projects lined up between now and the end of the year and I hope many, many more come my way. I also have a YouTube channel (StartToFinishFilms), that a buddy and I started, where we tape our “writing session” and then you see the short/sketch at the end from the idea we talked about.
IJM: And finally, since it is October and we are talking about a film that features a Hell scene, what are you going to be for Halloween?
PC: I don’t know!!! It’s stressing me out … thanks for reminding me!
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