Amazing Animated Film on the Debt and the Deficit

Director – Marshall Curry
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Why do we have budget deficits and a national debt?
In this free-wheeling animated film, you’ll see how Congress and public officials use and manage debt, and why it matters to you.

Written & Directed by: Marshall Curry
Producers: Marshall Curry and Daniel Koehler
Creative Consultan: Hilary McHone
Consulting Producer: Elizabeth Martin

Creative Director/Narration: Harold Moss
Supervising Producer: Jordan Geary
Producer: Tom Chorlton
Art Director: Zartosht Soltani
Lead Animator: Philip Andrews
Lead Animator: Justin Cassano
Animator: Morag Wesselman
Animator: Christine Kwon
Compositor/Editor: Jeff Nelson
Sound Design/Music: David Wilson
© Marshall Curry Productions, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Marshall Curry

MARSHALL CURRY is a two-time Academy Award nominated documentary filmmaker. His film, “Street Fight,” follows Cory Booker’s first run for mayor of Newark, NJ and was nominated for an Oscar and an Emmy. His follow up documentary, “Racing Dreams” tells the story of two boys and a girl who live in rural America and dream of one day racing in NASCAR. It won numerous awards, including Best Documentary Feature at the Tribeca Film Festival, and aired on PBS and the BBC. His third film, “If a Tree Falls, a Story of the Earth Liberation Front” peels back the layers of a radical environmental group that the FBI called the number one domestic terrorist group in the United States. That film won the award for Best Documentary Editing at the Sundance Film Festival and went on to be nominated for an Oscar. Marshall was Executive Producer and an additional editor of “Mistaken For Strangers,” a comedy rock-doc about indie band, The National. Most recently Marshall directed and edited “Point and Shoot,” a documentary about a young Baltimore native who set out on a 30,000 mile motorcycle trip through Northern Africa and the Middle East and wound up joining the rebels in Libya fighting Gaddafi. It won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival and will be released in theaters in November, 2014. Marshall is a graduate of Swarthmore College where he studied Comparative Religion and has been a guest lecturer at Harvard, Duke, Columbia, NYU, and other colleges. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and children.

Director's Note

“I grew up in a family where we argued about economics a lot. But as the sole documentary filmmaker in a family of MBAs, I knew that most people don’t find conversations about the federal deficit and debt inherently thrilling. We all know it’s important—every year we seem to have some political ‘crisis’ in Washington related to the debt and deficit. But even among economic topics, it’s particularly theoretical and dry. I wanted to make a documentary, but knew that there was only one thing more boring to most people than the words ‘debt and deficit,’ and that was the word ‘documentary.’ (For the record, I love documentaries and know they can be dramatic and amazing, but I’m just being honest here.)

And then my nine-year-old daughter said, ‘Maybe you should do it as a cartoon. Everything’s fun when it’s a cartoon!’ So I spent the next few weeks talking with economists of different political persuasions, asking them what they thought most people don’t understand about the debt and deficit. I did my best to boil down those conversations into a handful of ideas that wouldn’t answer every point or counterpoint about the issue, but would give a viewer a basic framework for thinking it through. And hopefully it would do it in a way that my nine-year-old daughter thinks is funny.”


The difference between debt and deficit is:

  • 9% Deficit is a per-person figure and debt is a total for an entire country.
  • 24% All of these
  • 59% Deficit is an annual figure while debt is cumulative
  • 7% Deficit is for the states and debt is for the federal government
59% of respondents chose the correct answer: Deficit is an annual figure while debt is cumulative.

The national debt is the net accumulated borrowing by the federal government. It's the difference between all the money that our federal government has ever spent and all the revenue that it has ever collected since our nation's inception. The annual federal budget deficit is the amount that our federal government borrows each year. It's the difference between what the federal government spends and the revenue it receives during a particular year.

During what military conflict in U.S. history was public debt the highest percentage of GDP?

  • 3% Star Wars
  • 8% World War I
  • 12% The Civil War
  • 76% World War II
76% of respondents chose the correct answer: World War II.

Public debt as a percentage of GDP reached its highest level during Harry Truman's first presidential term, during and after World War II, but fell rapidly in the post-World War II period. It has steadily increased since, except during the Carter and Clinton Administrations.

Federal debt in the United States as a percentage of the GDP is approximately:

  • 38% 100%
  • 18% 150%
  • 18% 20%
  • 25% 40%
38% of respondents chose the correct answer: 100%.

The United States recorded a government debt of 101.53% of the country's GDP in 2013.

Did you know?

  • You could wrap $1 bills around the Earth 68,947 times with the debt amount.

  • In 2013 the Government spent $105 billion on interest on debt, 2x that spent on education, science and medical research.

  • There was only one year in U.S. History when the nation held no debt – 1835.

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