A woman and limping little boy exit through an animated, scary metal gate with the words asylum for irrecoverable children, and out into a beautiful, tree-lined path
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Short film update: GREAT news!

The Izidor Story production team spent the month of September on location in Sighetu Marmatiei, Romania, shooting the live action portion of the short film IZIDOR (formerly entitled "Real Boy for a Day"). The film reveals a disabled orphan trapped in a world of animation when he unexpectedly gets a night out of the asylum and experiences the “real” world. It’s based on a true event in Izidor Ruckel’s life when he went outside the institution for the very first time at eight years old.

When we arrived in Romania, we had many needs: hire actors, find several locations, procure Ceausescu-era set decoration and costume design, and merge a newly-assembled filming crew into a smooth team.


We hired seven children and five adults to act in the film. Most significantly, we discovered 8-year-old Iosua (“Joshua”) Barbu to play little Izidor. A first-time actor, his understanding of the difficult material blew us away. Starting with his audition, he often asked great questions and adjusted quickly to direction. This little guy has a bright future in front of him!

Child Izidor standing in the woods
Iosua Barbu as little Izidor
Six children smiling and running through the woods


The Mayor of Sighetu Marmatiei, Vasile Moldovan, granted us permission to film in the city streets and at Izidor’s old orphanage. In addition, some residents allowed filming on their properties. One volunteer let us shoot in an unoccupied, 100-year-old house that had remained unrenovated since communist times. After a thorough cleaning, the place transformed into a nostalgic home. SUNRAI Village Resort provided picturesque views of the valley that helped accentuate the beauty of the real world, compared to life inside the asylum.

Drone shot of a village at sunset with a horse drawn carriage in view
The city of Sighetu Marmatiei from the hills of SUNRAI Village Resort


Volunteers dug through old boxes to find dozens of authentic mementos, fabrics, and dishes from the 1980’s. The results astonished local residents with several exclaiming, “I feel like I’m at my great-grandmother’s house!”

Onisha's table
A table with a lit lantern and 1980's era radio


We are thrilled with the results of our 5-member film crew. Not only were these exceptionally talented people to work with, but their openness toward understanding our film’s goals added more creativity and magic to the final results.

Child actor for Izidor with the 5 members of the filming crew
L to R: Iosua Baru (actor for little Izidor), Stefan Aghitoaie (Assistant Camera), Paul Plesa (Drone Pilot and Set Photographer), Dave Kabbe (Director), Daniel Rizea (Sound Technician), and Daniel Wyland (Director of Photography).


We are so grateful for all the people we met in Romania! We could not have done it without the outpouring of local community support we received. Below is a picture from our final Wrap Party of the cast, crew, and community volunteers.

Group photo of 36 smiling children and adults

What's next?

We are now raising the final funds to finish the short film. Post production includes creating the animated sequences, original music, editing, and post-production costs. Please consider a tax-deductible donation to Izidor Story today!

Your donation will be processed by The Film Collaborative, a nonprofit that offers fiscal sponsorship to filmmakers.

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