The Advanced Art of Stop-Motion Animation: History of Stop-Motion Feature Films: Part 3
The “steampunk” tone of the film was decidedly not geared toward a family audience, and it featured scenes of graphic violence and sexual innuendo. The original director ended up leaving the production midway and was replaced by Neil Burns, who had stop-motion experience from working at Cuppa Coffee Studios in Toronto. Many of the animators also re-located from Cuppa to work on the feature, which was shot in the gymnasium of a former First Nations school in Mission, British Columbia. The location was also home to most of the puppet fabrication, set workshops, and post-production. Scenes were shot with digital still cameras, and the images traveled through a fiber-optic cable network straight to the editing suites in house. (I had the opportunity to visit the set during production and was pleased to find one of my former stop-motion students working in the puppet department.) For a relatively low-budget project, they attempted to put a good level of detail into the look of the film, in particular the beautiful set design. Unfortunately, the dark story and mean spirits of the characters were not enough to endear most audiences to the final product. The film played in the Vancouver International Film Festival in 2008 and the Ottawa Animation Festival in 2009, but it did not secure a standard theatrical release and went straight to DVD. Historically speaking, it is great that Canada has finally produced a fully animated stop-motion feature with a unique visual style, and hopefully it will happen again.