Bonnie Blue is a door-to-door “door” saleswoman in the Tornado Alley town of Shamrock. Down-on-her-luck and up against a recession — the harder she chases a sale, the faster doors slam in her face. Her boss, Flip Smyth, doesn’t believe in the recession, rallying his young bucks into a frenzied battle cry of “Flip the switch!” — his mantra for turning a customer’s “No” to a “Yes.” An equal-opportunity bully, Flip relishes publicly shaming Bonnie and his office manager, Don Stuckey, her sole ally. After hours, they find comfort in each other’s arms. Don helps Bonnie rekindle a childhood passion, which gives her confidence to close her first deal. But when Flip pulls a bait-and-switch to avoid paying her commission, she finally challenges him, sending him into a rage as fierce as the approaching storm. Determined to prove herself, Bonnie races toward it — blind to the internal storm that’s chasing her.

  • Gretl Claggett
    Happy Hour
  • Project Type:
    Short Script
  • Genres:
    Dramedy, Thriller, Noir
  • Number of Pages:
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Language:
  • First-time Screenwriter:
  • Student Project:
Writer Biography - Gretl Claggett

GRETL CLAGGETT (Writer/Director) hails from Tornado Alley’s 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). Gretl wrote, directed and produced Happy Hour on a tight budget of $10K. The film screened as an official selection at 16 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.”

Happy Hour is now available on iTunes 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. Cinemmerse, a new wearable technology that measures viewers’ emotional responses, selected Happy Hour to be among the first films featured on their cutting-edge platform.

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. Committed to honing and evolving her craft, Gretl has recently participated in master directing workshops with Adrienne Weiss, and master screenplay classes at the Jacob Krueger Studio. She’s currently writing her first feature-length script.

When not developing her own projects, Gretl leads 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. “Cognitive in Motion,” IBM Amplify’s opening experience — which she conceptualized, wrote, directed and produced, incorporating ‘pop & lock’ dancers, real-time generated art and IBM cognitive data visualizations — won two 2017 Telly Awards.

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

Add Writer Biography
Writer Statement

“He’s a door-to-door “door’ salesman,” my friend said. “A what…?” I asked, thinking I’d misheard what her new boyfriend did for a living. “He lost his job, so now he sells storm doors, door-to-door.”

Their relationship didn’t last, but the notion of a down-on-his-luck, door-to-door “door” salesman stuck. And then, one night, while on a scholarship at Squaw Valley Writer’s Conference — where, over the course of a week, one has to produce a poem a day — I wrote “Storm Secrets,” a lyrical narrative starring said salesman, Don Stuckey. I remember laughing and gasping as the poem gushed onto the page, taking me by surprise — a blend of my experiences in sales plus fantasy, as well as sardonic social commentary on America’s corporate culture, greed and our media’s celebration of bad behavior. I thought I’d said my piece. Yet even after “Storm Secrets” appeared in my collection, Monsoon Solo: Voices Once Submerged (WordTech, 2012), something about Don and the storyline kept nagging me.

After finishing my first short film, Happy Hour — also based on one of my poems, narrated by Julianne Moore — which explores the memories and complexities of child sexual abuse, frequently and mistakenly deemed a “woman’s issue,” I wanted to delve into something completely different, to show my ability to write and direct men’s stories, too. Don was still there, knocking on my door. So I started the screenplay.

The first drafts focused on Don Stuckey as the unlucky salesman with a latent passion for storm chasing. Bonnie Blue — now the film’s anti-heroine — played a supporting role as Don’s love interest and the secretary of their tyrannical boss, Flip Smyth. The script was well crafted and even won honorable mentions in screenwriting contests. But it called out for something more to make it universal and singular. Always open to improving projects, when a friend suggested a major rewrite — turn the chaser into a door-to-door “door” saleswoman — I took the challenge.

What followed was one of the most fun, transformative writing experiences I’ve ever had. To start, I simply switched Don and Bonnie’s names, then re-read the script with fresh eyes to see what I could leave exactly the same and what had to change. This made me acutely aware of my own biases about gender roles in the bedroom and boardroom — spurring me to make more conscious, authentic and quirky choices throughout the significant revision process, which included creating additional scenes. Ultimately, I believe this intense script-work has reaped a complex female protagonist in a role never-before-seen, plus two memorable male leads — all with developed arcs — in a taut, timely short screenplay that aims to pack the punch of a feature.

One only has to follow the news — global warming, catastrophic storms, disaster capitalism, a country divided, a shrinking middle class, recession clouds looming — to see that the climate’s right to bring STORMCHASER’s relatable world to life on the screen.