Sometimes there is the need for magic. And if magic is nowhere to be found, Baton Rouge filmmakers Clay Achee and Barton Gilley believe in creating it.

Their collaboration, “Twiggly’s Battle,” has been chosen as an honorable mention submission by The Jim Henson Company in a recent filmmaking competition. The short film is a succinct morality tale created in the style of Henson’s 1982 movie “The Dark Crystal.” It can be viewed at darkcrystal.com.

The short will be screened July 27 at The Parlor at 705 St. Joseph St. and later this summer at Manship Theatre.

Gilley designed and created the animatronic creatures for the film. He said he was interested in making something new, something that would delight people when they saw it.

“I fell in love with animatronics,” Gilley said. “Making the puppet for Twiggly was the epitome of what I want to do. It uses everything I’ve learned and it’s something that can be brought to life, that humor and emotions can be brought through.”

Gilley studied sculpture at LSU and later worked in a special effects studio. He found himself focusing on the mechanical aspects of his inventions. He realized this was a field all its own known as kinetic art, or art that moves.

When Gilley first heard of the Henson film competition, he never considered entering it.

“I dismissed it because I can build things, but I don’t know how to write a script or film it,” said Gilley.

Similarly, Clay Achee, an avid Henson fan with 10 years filmmaking experience, skimmed past the idea, not knowing anyone with the skills to build believable creatures.

After seeing one of Gilley’s creations, Achee had a script written in a week.

The opportunity to bring a vision of fantasy into reality is not something to sit on, believes Achee, who directed the short film.

“To me, what it does, is expands the options that you’re given in reality,” Achee said. “It’s something children do very well. Adults limit the possibilities — there are no mermaids, there are no dragons — and we do ourselves a disservice to be so rigid because at one time there were no automobiles.”

Imagination and creativity are essential, if overlooked, elements of progress he said.

“All invention comes back to imagination, magic and mischief,” said Achee.

Mischief, in the sense Gilley and Achee see it, is the willingness to attempt something new, despite uncertainty.

The pair knew making the short film would be an exercise in patience and improvisation, as neither had filmed puppetry on this scale before, but they knew where they wanted to start.

“ ‘The Dark Crystal’ is a big film and an epic story,” said Achee. “I thought, ‘Oh man, this world they created is so rich you can sense there are other stories and characters.’ ”

They decided on a floppy-eared, two-inch creature named Twiggly, who lives below a mushroom cap in the vast Dark Crystal world. In the story, conflict ensues when Twiggly’s mushroom home is being devoured by another, hungrier, creature. Like “The Dark Crystal,” the story attempts to show the coexistence of dark and light, and the ambiguity of morality.

“Everybody believes they are the hero of their own story, but sometimes the good guy isn’t so good, and the bad guy isn’t so bad when you see their side of the story,” Achee said. “Morality is very gray, and there are very few hard lines.”

As much as the team wanted the tone of their film to be right, the visual atmosphere needed to be right as well.

“ ‘The Dark Crystal’ was one of those more realistic [Henson] movies,” said Gilley, noting cult-favorite “Labyrinth” as another example. “They were using mechanical creatures — not felt puppets — and the goal is to look as real as possible.”

“If you feel like if you pricked it, it would bleed, then it’s a creature,” said Achee, explaining Henson’s criteria when moving from puppet-making to creature-creating.

Gilley said he learned the basic processes of creature craft while working in special effects and sculpture, but that Twiggly was still a greater undertaking than his previous projects.

“I had trouble every step of the way because I’d never made anything like this,” said Gilley. “Every few steps I’d hit a wall and have to figure out a way around it.”

Resources were few, but the pair said that was part of the creative process.

“You get a glimpse from books or bonus features on films as to how they did it, but ultimately, it’s trial and error,” said Achee.

Gilley also said that there are no instructions when it comes to creative work.

“It requires a willingness to fail and keep going,” said Gilley. “Even if you are behind, keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then you blink and it’s all done — it’s there.”

“When you’re looking to your idols – in this case Walt Disney or Jim Henson – the trajectory of their lives seem so clear, like they were just born to do this,” said Achee, “and I realize clearly now, ‘No, it’s so messy. It’s only in retrospect that it seems clean.’”

The pair said this awareness gives them confidence to create and make more mischief.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s the proper way to do it, in the end it doesn’t matter how you got it done,” said Gilley.

“It’s refreshing to know your heroes were also messy,” Achee said. “Biographies are clean. Life is messy.”

Sometimes there is the need for magic. And if magic is nowhere to be found, Baton Rouge filmmakers Clay Achee and Barton Gilley believe in creating it.Their collaboration, “Twiggly’s Battle,” has been chosen as an honorable mention submission by The Jim Henson Company in a recent filmmaking competition. The short film is a succinct morality tale created in the style of Henson’s 1982 movie “The Dark Crystal.” It can be viewed at darkcrystal.com.The short will be screened July 27 at The Parlor at 705 St. Joseph St. and later this summer at Manship Theatre.Gilley designed and created the animatronic creatures for the film. He said he was interested in making something new, something that would delight people when they saw it.“I fell in love with animatronics,” Gilley said. “Making the puppet for Twiggly was the epitome of what I want to do. It uses everything I’ve learned and it’s something that can be brought to life, that humor and emotions can be brought through.”Gilley studied sculpture at LSU and later worked in a special effects studio. He found himself focusing on the mechanical aspects of his inventions. He realized this was a field all its own known as kinetic art, or art that moves.When Gilley first heard of the Henson film competition, he never considered entering it.“I dismissed it because I can build things, but I don’t know how to write a script or film it,” said Gilley.Similarly, Clay Achee, an avid Henson fan with 10 years filmmaking experience, skimmed past the idea, not knowing anyone with the skills to build believable creatures.After seeing one of Gilley’s creations, Achee had a script written in a week.The opportunity to bring a vision of fantasy into reality is not something to sit on, believes Achee, who directed the short film.“To me, what it does, is expands the options that you’re given in reality,” Achee said. “It’s something children do very well. Adults limit the possibilities — there are no mermaids, there are no dragons — and we do ourselves a disservice to be so rigid because at one time there were no automobiles.”Imagination and creativity are essential, if overlooked, elements of progress he said.“All invention comes back to imagination, magic and mischief,” said Achee.Mischief, in the sense Gilley and Achee see it, is the willingness to attempt something new, despite uncertainty.The pair knew making the short film would be an exercise in patience and improvisation, as neither had filmed puppetry on this scale before, but they knew where they wanted to start.“ ‘The Dark Crystal’ is a big film and an epic story,” said Achee. “I thought, ‘Oh man, this world they created is so rich you can sense there are other stories and characters.’ ”They decided on a floppy-eared, two-inch creature named Twiggly, who lives below a mushroom cap in the vast Dark Crystal world. In the story, conflict ensues when Twiggly’s mushroom home is being devoured by another, hungrier, creature. Like “The Dark Crystal,” the story attempts to show the coexistence of dark and light, and the ambiguity of morality.“Everybody believes they are the hero of their own story, but sometimes the good guy isn’t so good, and the bad guy isn’t so bad when you see their side of the story,” Achee said. “Morality is very gray, and there are very few hard lines.”As much as the team wanted the tone of their film to be right, the visual atmosphere needed to be right as well.“ ‘The Dark Crystal’ was one of those more realistic [Henson] movies,” said Gilley, noting cult-favorite “Labyrinth” as another example. “They were using mechanical creatures — not felt puppets — and the goal is to look as real as possible.”“If you feel like if you pricked it, it would bleed, then it’s a creature,” said Achee, explaining Henson’s criteria when moving from puppet-making to creature-creating.Gilley said he learned the basic processes of creature craft while working in special effects and sculpture, but that Twiggly was still a greater undertaking than his previous projects.“I had trouble every step of the way because I’d never made anything like this,” said Gilley. “Every few steps I’d hit a wall and have to figure out a way around it.”Resources were few, but the pair said that was part of the creative process.“You get a glimpse from books or bonus features on films as to how they did it, but ultimately, it’s trial and error,” said Achee.Gilley also said that there are no instructions when it comes to creative work.“It requires a willingness to fail and keep going,” said Gilley. “Even if you are behind, keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then you blink and it’s all done — it’s there.”“When you’re looking to your idols – in this case Walt Disney or Jim Henson – the trajectory of their lives seem so clear, like they were just born to do this,” said Achee, “and I realize clearly now, ‘No, it’s so messy. It’s only in retrospect that it seems clean.’”The pair said this awareness gives them confidence to create and make more mischief.“It doesn’t matter if it’s the proper way to do it, in the end it doesn’t matter how you got it done,” said Gilley.“It’s refreshing to know your heroes were also messy,” Achee said. “Biographies are clean. Life is messy.”