Writer, Producer, Director
GRETL CLAGGETT is a creator, writer, and director committed to telling singular stories that reflect current dilemmas but are timeless — stories that entertain and catalyze conversations that can transform cultures.
Gretl’s first film Happy Hour — narrated by Julianne Moore — is based on true events and a poem from her book, Monsoon Solo: Voices Once Submerged. The film screened as an official selection at 18 festivals, winning awards and garnering praise from Oscar-winning Writer/Director Robert Benton: “Happy Hour is a lush, elegiac film about an extremely difficult subject and Ms. Claggett handles it masterfully.”
Gretl’s second film/long-form narrative pilot, STORMCHASER, is a female-forward, nuanced satire that allegorizes this era in “Merica”: Global Warming, Disaster Capitalism, Trump, Bullying, #MeToo, Morality, a Shrinking Middle Class and Country Divided. The film/pilot has been selected to screen at more than 45 festivals around the world — and won AMC Network’s Inaugural Best Female Creator Award at Stareable Fest 2020. Other awards include multiple wins in the following categories: Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Film, Best Pilot, Best Cinematography, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Ensemble Cast, Best Original Score/Soundtrack, and Best VFX.
Gretl cut and restructured the story to make a much shorter 15-minute film, FLIP THE SWITCH, which was a finalist in the 2020 international Stage 32 Short Film Program Contest, and is at the start of its festival run. Company 3 — who color-graded both 4K versions — is sponsoring a High Dynamic Range (HDR) finish to STORMCHASER, which was the first indie production to shoot on Sony Venice CineAlta cameras with Sigma Cine lenses.
Another passion of Gretl’s is pioneering the use of innovative technologies to shape stories that engage and inspire audiences. She wrote and directed Sony’s first-ever 4K 360° cinematic music video, which premiered at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show and was featured in Sony’s activation at SXSW. She leads creative on high-profile events, such as Entertainment Weekly’s inaugural festival, PopFest, in Downtown LA, and IBM’s Amplify Conference on Watson Cognitive Marketing in Las Vegas. One of her specialties is merging live performance with state-of-the-art multimedia. “Cognitive in Motion,” IBM Amplify’s opening experience — which she conceptualized, wrote, directed, and produced, incorporating ‘pop & lock’ dancers, Notch (real-time generated art), and IBM cognitive data visualizations — won two top Telly Awards.
At the start of 2020, Gretl directed 3 episodes of a comedic indie short-form series. She’s currently writing and developing a memoir manuscript, a feature-length, and a long-form narrative project.
I wrote the poem “Happy Hour” — on which the film is based — more than a decade ago when I was deep in the labyrinth of recovery, after one of my parents’ best friends, whom I called “Uncle,” sexually abused me from before I could speak until I was 16.
Today’s headlines trumpet these crimes, yet the approach the media takes often keeps us stuck in horror and trauma. One in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before turning 18. This translates into roughly 40 million adult survivors in the U.S. alone. I’m a statistic. But I’m also a human being. And it’s through the very human ability to tell a story — to go beyond statistics and show just how these cycles of abuse play out — that transformation becomes possible. With its potential to reach millions, film can play a powerful role.
The hardest and most rewarding part of crafting any poem is successfully capturing a whole world in a handful of words. So when I decided to turn my nine-line lyric into a film, I gave myself a similar challenge: to convey the depth and nuances of a feature-length script in less than 15 minutes.
My team and I made Happy Hour to help in some small way to dispel fear and shame; forge a better understanding of complicity plus the psychological aftermath most survivors face even in adulthood; give those who’ve suffered abuse hope that they can create fulfilling lives; and inspire people to learn about prevention so that more children can grow up safe.