Farmington High grad entertains with animated ‘Edison and Fil’

Leila Mullison was studying abroad when her program was cut short by COVID-19. (Contributed)

Farmington High alum Leila Mullison should be in London right now.

The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic ended the University of Michigan junior’s study abroad program four months early, but has also expanded a stop motion animation project she started while overseas: Edison and Fil.

Mullison created “Edison” in London, as a way to get her out of the house.

“When I got there, I was worried that I would hole up in my bedroom,” she said. Her animated pal travelled with her to “touristy places”, like Stonehenge:

Since childhood, Mullison has looked forward to a career in computer or movie animation. Then she got stuck last year taking a stop motion animation class, when nothing else was available.

“I ended up actually loving it,” she said. “It’s really cool.”

Leila Mullison filmmaking
Leila Mullison sets up a shot for her stop-action videos. (Contributed)

To create her short videos, Mullison fashions a puppet, typically out of wire and putty, cardboard, straws, “mostly recycled stuff”. She works at the Farmington Civic Theater in downtown Farmington and discovered that burned out bulbs from the marquee are the perfect size and shape for a puppet head.

Edison’s adventures had just started when Mullison was forced to come home. Once back in Farmington, she worried about the same thing that drove her to create him.

“I was nervous that I would sit and not do anything,” she said. “I also felt like I wanted to do something to help.”

While Edison was her travel buddy, Fil is Mullison’s “quarantine buddy”. In his debut, the puppet sits on the ledge of a window looking out at the world:

Since March 24, the first day of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s “Stay Home. Stay Safe.” Executive Order, Mullison has created more than two dozen videos with Fil. The project gives her something to do every day, and she hopes that Fil contributes to the fight against COVID-19 by “providing a little bit of respite, a little positivity.”

“The goal is to make people smile a bit and give them something to look forward to,” Mullison said.

Follow Fil’s quarantine adventures here:



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