A Film by Emily Shapiro & J.J. Russo
Millie Mogul is a six-part animated miniseries about a twelve-year-old entrepreneur who becomes an overnight success when she starts a bicycle messenger service over summer vacation. But as Millie’s profits grow, so do the challenges she faces, and soon she must learn how to balance her booming business with her personal relationships, or else risk alienating her best friend and her family and destroying everything she’s created.
We are currently raising funds to produce the pilot episode, which will be made publicly available online in an effort to reach the broadest and most diverse audience possible. The pilot script is completed, along with a series bible, and sample artwork.
Millie Mogul is inspired by two seemingly incongruous mandates: to create high quality entertainment for 6 to 14 year olds of all economic backgrounds and to address the lack of financial literacy made accessible to American children. Although financial literacy is critical for a child to learn in order to be successful later in life, it is rarely taught at school or at home. The President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy put the issue bluntly: “By almost any measure, today’s schoolchildren are ill-equipped to understand personal finance and make their way in the modern financial world.” Children and adolescents often find even the most basic financial concepts intangible and far removed. But realistic, character-driven stories and unique, eye-grabbing animation can introduce the core concepts of financial literacy to a young audience in a deeply engaging and memorable way.
This mini-series can succeed where strictly educational TV and webisodes fail, by exposing the audience to relevant situations that dramatize choices and consequences, rather than dryly explaining financial concepts in theory. Millie Mogul is set in a relatable world so that kids can see themselves in the characters and learn from their actions as the story unfolds. Millie’s entrepreneurial adventure is both a fun visual comedy that will grab children’s attention and a coming-of-age story with relationship drama that will keep kids emotionally invested.
The series will be animated using rotoscope, a technique in which live-action movements are traced, which has the power to beautifully blend lifelike realism with bigger, wilder surreal and imaginative imagery. This allows us to heighten the action on screen while keeping the story grounded in reality. The opening title sequence will show the transformation from live action to animation, and the closing credit sequence will show the reverse, animation stripped back down to live action footage. Young audiences will get a glimpse into the creative process, adding another learning dimension to the viewing experience.
Producer Emily Shapiro is co-founder of the New York International Children’s Film Festival, which was created to present thoughtful, provocative, and intelligent films for children and families that are not readily available in mainstream media. She believes that visual media is especially powerful for kids in its unique ability to open minds to new concepts, encourage exploration and imagination, and reveal new perspectives in a familiar format.
Our goal in creating Millie Mogul is to seamlessly merge entertainment with education, equalize the playing field for all children, and make a contribution to a future where there is less personal debt and greater opportunity, mobility, and prosperity for all.
Emily Shapiro (Writer/Producer) is Co-Founder and Board Director of the New York International Children’s Film Festival, an Academy qualifying festival and the largest for children and teens in North America. For 14 years she was responsible for festival programming, operations, and management of 50-60 staff, interns and volunteers. Emily is on the creative team of GKIDS Inc., an animation distribution company which has garnered 8 Academy Award nominations in the past 7 years. Since 2011, Emily has directed multiple English-language dubs for Academy qualifying short films and assists with all aspects of English-language dubs on numerous award-winning features, including Ernest and Celestine, A Cat in Paris, Zarafa, and Mia and the Migoo. Prior to founding the festival, Emily ran the production office and assistant edited the Peabody award-winning documentary, Arguing the World, and she briefly worked for Henson Associates, creator of The Muppets. As a child, Emily performed on television onSaturday Night Live, The Chevy Chase Special, and Cos as well as in local theater.
J.J. Russo (Writer/Producer) studied writing for film and television at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, where he was nominated for the Humanitas Prize Angell Comedy Fellowship. He worked on the sixth season of AMC’s Mad Men as a writers’ room intern responsible for historical research. Since then, he has been a writer’s assistant to former Mad Men consulting producer Michael Saltzman, developing comedy and drama television pilots for ABC Family, CBS Productions, Fox Broadcasting Company, Warner Horizon Television, Showtime, Netflix, and Ellen DeGeneres’s A Very Good Production, Inc. Besides his work in television, J.J. has done feature script coverage and development for independent producers Scott Rudin and Ted Hope, and reads and judges scripts for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Nicholl Fellowships. J.J. has also studied improvisational and sketch comedy with the Upright Citizens Brigade and Second City theaters, and taught at the Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project in India as a volunteer with Artists Striving to End Poverty.
Sarah Cox (Director) is the owner and company director of ArthurCox LTD, a numerous award-winning film and animation production company. Award nominated and winning films directed by Sarah include 3 Ways to Go, Plain Pleasures, Don’t Let It AllUnravel, Heavy Pockets, and A Time and a Time. Sarah is a frequent collaborator with multiple Academy Award winning Aardman Animations. In 2010, Sarah collaborated with Aardman, Tate, Fallon and CBBC on The Tate Movie Project and was director of its ensuing 30 Minute Animated film and the multiple award winning The Itch of the Golden Nit. Sarah spent the 1990’s in London combining lecturing with commercial animation direction. She taught at Humberside University and The National School of Film and Television and was head of Animation at Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia, USA. She continues to act as a visiting lecturer at WSCAD BA Animation and NFTS. Sarah is a regular panel participant and juror at Film Festivals and events including Annecy, the Northern Design Awards, Fantoche, and Animated Encounters and there was a retrospective of ArthurCox at Animac 2011 and of Sarah’s work at Anima Mundi 2012. She was also a speaker at the 2011 Festival of Ideas as part of the Bristol Genius series and she is a Voting Member of BAFTA.