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 more than 15 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/proof-of-concept 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. STORMCHASER has been selected to screen at more than 50 festivals around the world — winning AMC Network’s Inaugural “Best Female Creator” Award at Stareable Fest 2020 and “Best Writer and Director” Awards at the 2021 New York Women in Film & Television Festival. Other awards include multiple wins for 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 shorter 15-minute film, FLIP THE SWITCH, which was a finalist in the 2020 international Stage 32 Short Film Program Contest, and is now screening at multiple festivals around the world. Company 3 color-graded both 4K versions and 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 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 Partner World in San Francisco plus its 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.
A lifelong learner, Gretl loves teaching and mentoring individuals and teams — inspiring students and collaborators to do their best work.
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.