Tony Shelly and the Magic Light is a feature film directed by Filip Pošívač, distributed by LevelK. The story revolves around 11 year old Tony who was born with a special ability—he glows. Tony has been kept at home his whole life to be protected from the world but with the help of his new friend Shelly, who recently moved into their block, that’s about to change. When the two embark to tackle everything from quarreling neighbors to depression, the journey leads them to discover “Spirit of the House.” Behind the circuit of dark cracks, this powerful spirit sucks out all the light bulbs, even the daylight, and eventually leaves the house in perpetual darkness.

This film of dark and light is a result of a co-production of 3 countries: Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. “Before every shot we had a meeting with the director,” animator Marek Jasaň told us. “He explained emotions that the characters should feel and what happened before and after the actual shot. Then we had a little brainstorm about the action and sometime he gave us enough freedom to think up secondary actions or something to make it more interesting—during the dance routing he gave me and the DOP total freedom to make up something visually appealing, so it was quite fun.”

Jasaň relayed that the teams’ process was a labor of love, eschewing 3-d printing to make everything by hand. The puppets’ skin, for example, was painted with a magnetic color, “and in each mouth and eyebrow there was a tiny magnet so it stayed on the face without further fixation. This way, we could freely move those parts around the face and change them easily whenever we needed to.

“Tony was quite special,” he went on, “because he had to glow, so his head and hands were made from some kind of transparent epoxy and had wires with little LEDs inside. That was quite unique for this project, because I don’t know about many projects in which they would use puppet that really glows. That, of course, meant that in each shot with Tony we had to find a way to hide the wires coming out of his body.”

Other animators on the film included Tomáš Červený, Vojtěch Kiss, Barbora Valecká, and Karoly Papp.

Check out the film’s instagram for more on the making-of, including some cool bts vids.