Gary Mitchell has built an illustrious career in
educational films by focusing on some of the most
difficult social issues, creating ground breaking
works in the areas of child abuse, domestic violence,
rape and AIDS. It all began in Hollywood where he
produced his first film Chicano, a documentary on
the Mexican American civil rights movement.
In 1973, after moving to San Francisco where his daughter
was born, he began producing and distributing “Contemporary
Social Issues” films that touched on oft taboo
subjects such as:
A Preventive Inquiry
Abuse: Cradle of Violence
The Victim Nobody Believes
Women: Violence Behind Closed Doors and Squires
of San Quentin, for which he received an Academy
During this time Mitchell met Eliana Gil,
PhD, at the San Francisco Child Abuse Council. A
therapist and author specializing in the sexual
molestation of children, Dr. Gil has been an invaluable
ally and consultant for many years.
His experience as a single parent sharpened
his focus towards films that would help children
understand and cope with difficult situations, starting
with Who Do You Tell?, a film that taught children
the nature and importance of their “support
films soon caught the attention of MTI Teleprograms,
forming a powerful allegiance that funded many more
productions for children. His work with the NBC
affiliate in San Francisco led to working relationships
with renowned cinematographers and editors such
as Oscar-nominated Jon Else, Michael Elwell and
John Nutt, which further expanded the potential
of his productions.
By the early eighties former Sesame Street
writer Brian Narelle came on board, launching several
highly successful children’s series including
four What Tadoo, three Wizard of No and eleven Sooper
Puppy films. While these films dealt with a wide
range of issues, from sexual abuse to alcohol and
prejudice, it represented yet another leap to tackle
the newly emerging scourge of AIDS.
During the late 80s and into the 90s Associate Producer Linda Merryman made considerable contribution to Mitchell’s productions.
By the late 80s Mitchell’s work caught
the attention of the California state government.
Several films were created to educate mandated reporters
such as therapist and clergy populations and distributed
by the Office of Child Abuse Prevention. Research
for these films showed Mitchell the need for even
more films to help children already ensnared in
the web of abuse resulting in films such as What
Tadoo With Secrets and Believe Me.
In 1999 Mitchell was honored by the Best Friends
Organization in Washington DC where General Colin
Powell awarded him the “Friendship Award”
in tribute to all the films produced for the benefit
The most recent production, Time To Tell,
produced in 2007, is aimed at a slightly older audience
than the traditional K-3 What Tadoo range. It demonstrates
the ability of children to support each other through
the power of knowledge, something to which Mitchell
has long been committed.
After a long series of acquisitions, MTI by
Esquire, Esquire by Simon & Schuster, Simon
& Schuster by Paramount, etc., Mitchell eventually
established his own distribution, Empowerkids.com,
While Mitchell’s films have accrued
piles of awards and proved an invaluable resource
to social service agencies, schools, therapists
and police departments (The Los Angeles Sheriff’s
Department modeled their countywide school training
programs after What Tadoo and the Wizard of No was
an integral part of the national Here’s To
You 2000 Program) these films have never before
been distributed to the home market.
the pressing need to both educate parents to the
nature of predatory child abusers and help open
up discussion between parents and children, Mitchell
is going public for the first time in 2008, opening
up his vast catalog of films to the home market
so they can have the maximum effect in protecting
our most precious natural resource, our kids.