FLIP THE SWITCH

A door-to-door saleswoman caught up in the tornado of her boss’s cultish personality unleashes a storm of violence when she realizes that she and her customers have been duped — not only by him and his doctrine of “Flip the Switch!” but by the whole system of Disaster Capitalism.

  • Gretl Claggett
    Director
    Happy Hour — narrated by Julianne Moore + STORMCHASER + Chronicles of a BLEEP Year Old Woman
  • Gretl Claggett
    Writer
    Happy Hour — narrated by Julianne Moore + STORMCHASER
  • Gretl Claggett, Producer & EP
    Producer
    Happy Hour — narrated by Julianne Moore + STORMCHASER
  • Pamela Cederquist, EP
    Producer
    Mindhunter, Writer + STORMCHASER, EP + Law & Order, V.I.P., My Dog Skip, Space Jam, That Thing You Do, 1st and 2nd AD
  • Sarah Donnelly, Producer
    Producer
    The Statement + Always + STORMCHASER
  • Simon Taufique, EP
    Producer
    She's Lost Control + Imperium + STORMCHASER
  • Mary Birdsong
    Key Cast
    “Bonnie Blue”
    The Descendants, Masters of Sex, Scream Queens, Succession, Reno 911!
  • Stephen Plunkett
    Key Cast
    “Flip Smyth”
    The Mend, Chained for Life, Fosse/Verdon, Rise
  • Dominic Rains
    Key Cast
    “Don Stuckey”
    Burn Country, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Chicago Med, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • Project Type:
    Short
  • Runtime:
    14 minutes 51 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 1, 2020
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    English
  • Shooting Format:
    Sony Venice 6K w/ Sigma Lenses
  • Aspect Ratio:
    2.39:1
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    No
Director Biography - Gretl Claggett

These are days of radical reinvention…and I’m no stranger to that.

With MFAs in Acting, Poetry, and Nonfiction, plus successful stints as an On- and Off-Broadway Actress, a Brand Content Producer and Creative Director, plus a top-selling Business Development Executive, my eclectic background provides a strong foundation for a career steeped in transmedia storytelling — from creating short- and long-form narratives across multiple genres to tech-forward immersive experiences for the world’s biggest brands.

As a Creator/Writer, Director and Filmmaker, I’m committed to telling singular, diverse stories that entertain and catalyze conversations that can transform our culture.

My first film, HAPPY HOUR — narrated by Julianne Moore — 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.”

My second film/proof-of-concept TV pilot, STORMCHASER, is a female-forward, nuanced satire that allegorizes this era in “Merica”: Global Warming, Disaster Capitalism, Bullying, #MeToo, Morality, a Shrinking Middle Class and Country Divided. STORMCHASER has been selected to screen at more than 50 festivals worldwide — 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.

I 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 mine is pioneering the use of innovative technologies to shape inspiring brand stories — from writing and directing Sony’s first 4K 360° cinematic music video to creative directing 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 my specialties is merging live performance with state-of-the-art multimedia. “Cognitive in Motion,” IBM Amplify’s opening experience — which I 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, I love teaching and mentoring individuals and teams — inspiring students and collaborators to do their best work.

In 2020, I directed 3 episodes of an indie short-form comedic series. Currently, I’m writing a memoir manuscript and developing a feature-length black comedy plus a long-form episodic metaphysical thriller.

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Director Statement

WRITER/DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT

“He’s a door-to-door ‘door’ salesman,” my friend said.

“A what...?” I thought I’d misheard what her new boyfriend did for a living.

“He lost his job. Now, he sells storm doors, door-to-door.”

Our exchange conjured black-and-white images from the Maysles’ documentary, Salesman, about door-to-door bible peddlers in the ‘60s. Surely, this daily grind was a thing of the past. But as I did some digging, I discovered it still exists; and that many contractors targeting weather-torn areas this way are called “storm chasers” — instead of “ambulance chasers” — because of their predatory practices.

This triggered a deep compulsion in me to express my own sardonic commentary on what I’ve experienced growing up in small-town Tornado Alley, plus selling incentives as the lone woman in an old-boys’ club: America’s culture of greed, its celebration of bad behavior, and the rise of “disaster capitalism” which preys upon the most vulnerable suffering from man-made and natural catastrophes.

All that gave birth to Bonnie Blue — a down-on-her-luck storm chaser turned naive, door-to-door huckster of roofing, siding and storm doors — and her boss, Flip Smyth, whose doctrine of “Flip the Switch!” embodies the spirit of disaster capitalism and closing a deal at any cost.

We shot FLIP THE SWITCH in a visually epic style with Sony CineAlta VENICE Cameras and Sigma Cine Lenses — the first truly indie team to use this killer combination. Company 3 color-graded the 4K film, and will sponsor a High Dynamic Range (HDR) version. HDR will give us a wider palette to further emphasize the grimy, makeshift, claustrophobic office interiors versus the expansive, weathered, brooding-sky exteriors — merging the story’s real and metaphoric storms.

Magical Realism is sparingly interspersed throughout the film to physicalize the characters' internal landscapes. There are scenes in which characters, themselves, become “the storm.” These moments — that break free from the more realistic narrative — hopefully engender intimacy with the characters’ psychologies, compress and accelerate action, as well as heighten dilemmas so they can be felt personally, politically and universally.

“Tell all the Truth but tell it slant,” wrote Emily Dickinson. To me, that means we can more easily face the world’s toughest problems when storytelling and performances are not on the nose. Acting was my first passion, and I loved collaborating with this cast. Each of them authentically embodies their characters, skillfully playing that razor’s edge between nuanced farce and heartfelt, gritty naturalism.

My intention is for audiences to experience FLIP THE SWITCH as entertainment; but process it as a satire of our socio-political system — a darkly funny dramedy with a dash of romance and allegory: Flip Smyth epitomizes the Old ‘Merica and culture of entitlement. Don Stuckey, a dark-skinned man in a white man’s world, like far too many employees, lives in fear of losing his joyless job. And, Bonnie Blue, our anti-heroine, who really wants to pursue her passion for chasing storms, but — to make ends meet — finds herself preying upon the very vulnerabilities that are preyed upon within her. She, along with Don, represents the changing face and values of a New America struggling to find its way.

One only has to follow the news — global warming, disaster capitalism, Trump, #MeToo, a country divided, shrinking middle class, recession clouds looming — to see the consequences of a violent, predatory society. But FLIP THE SWITCH aims to explore these inflammatory issues without becoming a political polemic by looking at both the noble ambitions and dog-eat-dog urges that make people so damn complicated, asking: How do we “flip the switch” to stop the storm of violence in a culture where we’re all complicit — even when we’re oppressed by forces that seem so much larger than ourselves?