Heal Ourselves, Heal others: Transforming Consciousness Through Filmmaking with Gretl Claggett

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Like all good story tellers, actor/poet Gretl Claggett came into filmmaking through her own intriguing narrative. Her main character in a novel she had written had a backstory of childhood sexual abuse. The condition for publishing the novel was to excise that backstory. She said “No.”

After being shut down, she courageously took that story of abuse - which was her own - and made the short film Happy Hour: a beautiful artful film which helps people see  the conscious and unconscious complicity inherent in childhood sexual abuse.

Gretl’s abuse began when she was very young and continued until she was 16, when she finally told her mother. She talks with Susan about how acting saved her life - allowing her to become other people, escape her own reality - and her healing journey through the deep labyrinth of recovery - the difficult work of peeling back the layers of rage and shame, at the perpetrator, her parents and herself.

Gretl’s mission is “to create powerful stories through the medium of film and other innovative technologies that entertain and transform consciousness.” She is well on her way!


Meet This Episode's Guest

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Gretl Claggett

GRETL CLAGGETT (Writer/Creative Director/Filmmaker) hails from Hannibal, Missouri, also Mark Twain’s boyhood home. Her first film Happy Hour — narrated by Julianne Moore — is based on a poem from her book, MONSOON SOLO: Voices Once Submerged (WordTech, 2012).


Happy Hour screened as an official selection at 17 festivals, winning several awards and honors, 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.”


The film is now available on iTunes and Amazon in association with a nonprofit campaign: all download proceeds go to a small group of nonprofits whose focus is treating and preventing sexual abuse and promoting healthy relationships.


Gretl 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. As an actress, she performed at many New York theaters — such as Playwrights Horizons, Circle in the Square, Soho Rep, La MaMa and HERE — and at many regional theaters, including Actors
Theater of Louisville. She holds MFAs in Poetry, Creative Nonfiction and Acting, and is currently casting her next film, STORMCHASER, plus writing her first feature-length script.


When not developing her own projects, Gretl leads award-winning creative on large events, such as Entertainment Weekly’s inaugural festival, PopFest (2016, Downtown LA), and IBM’s Amplify Conference on Watson Cognitive Marketing (2017, Las Vegas). One of Gretl’s specialties is merging live performance with state-of- the-art multimedia.


Gretl is passionate about using innovative technologies to organically tell visceral stories that
entertain and transform.