Sunrise Prods., the South African animation studio which produced the 2003 stop-motion "junkmation" feature film, The Legend of Sky Kingdom, is trying a truly unique online marketing strategy. Through its website, www.sunrisecorporation.net, the company is selling DVDs of the film, along with books and a soundtrack CD, for whatever the customer chooses to pay.
"We want our products to be available to everyone, regardless of whether they can afford the usual costs or not." says Sunrise Prods. head Phil Cunningham. "Some people may only be able to pay very little, or even nothing at all, while others may feel inspired to support us by paying far more than ordinary costs. We welcome both alike."
Cunningham says the goal is to get Sky Kingdom and the company’s other offerings seen by as many people as possible. Also available on the site are an adventure novel for teenagers titled The VIII Son, and a 22-minute, CG-animated TV special titled Once Upon a Stable, which looks at the birth of Christ from the perspective of the animals present for the event.
The Legend of Sky Kingdom features stop-motion puppets and sets made entirely from pieces of recycled junk. Three years in the making, the 35mm feature was self-financed by Cunningham and his wife, Jacqui. Director Roger Hawkins and animation director Brent Dawes were aided by a crew of 15 young artists, animators and technicians.
The film tells the story of three orphan slaves who make a daring escape from an underground city and an evil emperor. It screened in competition at the 2003 Annecy Int’l Festival of Animation and has since played at a number of other fests.