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Rising Star Heather McCluskey: “A movement to put down technology for one day a week or a few days a month would be the movement that could help the most amount of people”

It may sound strange, but in this ever advancing world I think the movement that could help the most amount of people would be a movement to put down the technology for one day a week or a few days a month. A movement to reunite us, as our physical selves, and have human contact […]


It may sound strange, but in this ever advancing world I think the movement that could help the most amount of people would be a movement to put down the technology for one day a week or a few days a month. A movement to reunite us, as our physical selves, and have human contact once again. A lot of people today have developed social anxiety and I believe it is mostly due to us not having human interaction anymore, communicating through computers and cell phones. So my movement would be to end social anxiety by rediscovering social interaction. Have a block party, get to know your neighbors, go for a walk in the park. I think it would benefit millions.


As a part of my interview series with popular culture stars, I had the pleasure of interviewing. Heather McCluskey. Heather started out her film career as a set PA, quickly moving into the role of grip, while doing small acting jobs on the side. Her desire to create steered her towards Screenwriting, which she has been doing for over ten years now. Finding flaws in the system, and wanting to be the one to bring her creations to life, Heather is currently embarking on a new journey to create a production company, solely for original content, where she can direct and produce spec screenplays.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

When I was twelve, Jurassic Park was released in theatres. I had taken my dad to go see it for Father’s Day. Just the look on his face, the excitement. I remember, at one point, he even jumped and popcorn went everywhere. That’s when I knew, this is what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to create worlds. To take people away from reality and put them into an adventure. To make them forget all their troubles, even if for only a while.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

I’m not so sure you would call it interesting, but there’s been a lot of excitement. At one point I was working Grip, on set, at the Santa Fe Penitentiary. I was having a bad morning and walked into work in a mood. At the time, the scene we were filming was supposed to be at night, however we were filming during the day and couldn’t get the shot we needed from blacking out the window on the inside. The Key Grip turned to me and said “how do you feel about repelling?” Being in the mood I was in, I replied “I don’t care” and the next thing I knew I was hanging off the side of a prison, no tie off, just being hoisted down by two other Grips, blacking out a window. On another set I was, at one point, perched on the side of a cliff, assisting the D.P. in getting another angle of us blowing up an eighteen-wheeler. Depending on the film, set life can be very exciting, interesting and addictive.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The first film, I worked on, I started out as a set P.A. I had no idea that there were rules as to who you could and couldn’t talk to. Kellie Waymire, rest her soul, was the leading female. Between takes we struck up a conversation. She was real easy to get along with, great sense of humor, anyway, when she went back to the set the 2nd A.D. approached me, reprimanding me for talking to “the talent”. Apparently, when you’re crew, you’re not supposed to talk to actors/actresses. Well word of me being told this actually got back to Kellie. Later that day we were filming a scene where she was being tortured. She was being hosed down, with a fire hose, while wearing a strait jacket. After a few takes, she leaves the set, soaking wet, in a strait jacket . As she walks past me she yells “And Heather can talk to whoever she wants!” Everyone on set started clapping. I learned that day that actors/actresses are just regular people with really cool jobs, who, sometimes get lonely or bored on set too. Other times they can be very particular and don’t want to be bothered. Having had the opportunity to be both cast and crew I really don’t see why we still have this separation. So although I don’t follow these rules on my sets, on any other set I leave the ice breakers to the other person, and never ignore anyone on set wanting someone to talk to.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

You’ve actually caught me at an exciting time in my life. I just launched the first, of many, crowd funding campaigns, in an effort to start a production company, solely focused on producing spec scripts. Although there are Screenwriters being hired to write Superhero movie#67, their own stories aren’t getting made. Starting out Screenwriting, I’ve had several industry professionals tell me that my scripts “ Are amazing, but unless they have a pre-existing fan base, good luck getting them produced” In a world where the only stories being told are the ones we already know, the entertainment industry really isn’t all that entertaining anymore. We need original content, we need new stories, and that’s what I hope to be able to bring you with Spec Central Films.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

In all honesty, the most amazing person I’ve come across is someone I’ve never met. I was asked, about a year ago, to write a based on a true story script, about my friend’s father Chuck Dawson. Although he passed away a few days after I was asked, family and friends, all over the country, had several recordings, from his time on the radio, I was able to acquire. This man not only survived two plane crashes, in one day, but he invented Pay Per View, accidentally started a cult, inadvertently assisted the Hells Angels with creating the world’s first cell phone signal scrambler and single handedly went up against HBO, Time Warner and Showtime, in an antitrust lawsuit, with his wife as his attorney, and won the six million dollar suit. People in the industry are interesting, but the people the stories are about, that’s more interesting to me.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

-Feedback is not personal. Hollywood is full of people who didn’t make it, and they can be bitter, but don’t let them discourage you. Amongst all the negative comments, there is usually something there that you can use to improve on. Sometimes you have to peel away the burnt parts to get to the good stuff.

– If the industry seems to have all its doors closed, either find a window, or build your own door.

-Never stop moving forward. If you sit in one place too long, you’ll get comfortable there. Always continue learning and advancing your skill.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

It may sound strange, but in this ever advancing world I think the movement that could help the most amount of people would be a movement to put down the technology for one day a week or a few days a month. A movement to reunite us, as our physical selves, and have human contact once again. A lot of people today have developed social anxiety and I believe it is mostly due to us not having human interaction anymore, communicating through computers and cell phones. So my movement would be to end social anxiety by rediscovering social interaction. Have a block party, get to know your neighbors, go for a walk in the park. I think it would benefit millions.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

1)It’s not about you, it’s about their needs at the current moment.

-A lot of times Casting Directors are looking for a specific thing, production companies are looking for a certain story type, or they’ve been told to only buy a certain script or hire a certain look. Just because you didn’t get chosen, doesn’t mean you’re not good, it just means you are not what they need at that point in time.

2)Learn to fail with grace.

-Winston Churchill said it best when he said “Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm” When someone tells you that you’re not good enough, don’t let that devastate you. Don’t let it define you. Don’t lash out in denial and fight the feedback you’ve been given. Take a deep breath, and really think about what was said and if there is something you can do better for the next round.

3)Anything is possible, you just have to find a way.

– If you are out hiking, and you come to a river, do you just stop and go back the way you came? This is the mentality of a lot of people, thinking “this is clearly the wrong path for me, I can’t get over this hurdle” but often times you’ll find that if you take the time and work hard, you can get past any obstacle, you can find a way around it. Sometimes it just takes time, and others it takes creative thinking. The only thing limiting yourself is you.

4) Don’t give up.

-The first time I auditioned to be on a movie I honestly thought that I was auditioning to be an extra. I would go to this empty warehouse, where they were holding auditions and wait for hours. Then the casting director and a few others would come out, shake my hand, have me turn around, and say “Thank you, we’ll call you if we need you” I must have done this over 7 times before I gave up and took another job. Keep in mind this was back when we didn’t have cell phones and I didn’t have an answering machine. Come to find out, the first movie I was hired on, the crew already knew my name because they were trying to reach me to tell me I was hired as the stand in for Natasha Henstridge. That’s what I was actually auditioning for and I had no idea that I got the job.

5) Network as much as you can.

-When I first started out we didn’t have social media film sites, we had to go to these things called “meet and greets” which were basically a bar night out with some industry professionals. I have met several people through these events that, although they had no need for me at the time, they kept me in mind when they did. Everyone is trying to make it and if someone in the industry is requesting someone like you, it may benefit your friend to name drop and say they know a guy, which, in return, benefits you.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are”- Max Depree. There have been a lot of times, in my life, where I’ve gotten complacent. I’m comfortable with my work, my family life and so on, and I would dream of “having it all” but as long as I let everything stay the way it was, that was all that it was, just a dream. You have to go out to every audition. You have to submit to every film festival. You have to enter every competition. In order for your life to change, you have to actively work towards your goals, not just wish for them to come true.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I wouldn’t say there was just one person. I believe success is a culmination of hundreds of failures and being able to bounce back from each one. There was someone there, at every failure, who said something, who told me not to give up, but those were not the same people. I wouldn’t say I am successful yet, there is still a lot I need to accomplish, but I am grateful for everyone who has helped me along the way. I’m grateful to Mr. Robillard, my 6th grade English teacher, who let us develop our creative writing all day instead of doing regular studies. I’m grateful to director Kurt Kressler who hired me for my first film, based solely on a letter I wrote in, and told me he would be there if I ever needed anything. I’m grateful to my friend Mike who I instituted a “feedback for food” program where he would give me general public feedback and I would give him enchiladas lol. I’m grateful to my friend Chance, who also has big acting dreams he is following, as we’ve always supported each other in any way we can. Most of all I’m grateful to my family for always being there, cheering me on.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂

Steven Spielberg. His films are my childhood. In a way he inspired me to become a filmmaker. I love the way he takes you on an adventure, the way he sees the world. I think he would be an amazing person to hang out with.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Currently you can find me on Facebook & YouTube under “Spec Central Films”, On Stage32 as Heather McCluskey or follow me on Twitter: Epicspecwriter @speccentral. Also check out my campaign on Indiegogo.com! https://igg.me/at/speccentralfilms/x/21906789

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