Stunt Island, SIFA, and I

I found Stunt Island around 1993, probably while browsing a software store with my dad. My parents wanted me to find programs that engaged creativity and thinking, and Stunt Island fit that perfectly. I loved the game and knew it was something special, even if I didn't realize its full potential. I was in a rural area with no modem and no economical way to access a BBS, so I missed out on the filmmaking scene that was happening. Somehow I got ahold of the SIUPDATE and was enthralled with it. When my 5 1/4" floppies went bad, Disney support sent me a new set of 3.5" disks. I remember being delighted seeing films like "Mickey's Revenge" and how they showed what was possible with Stunt Island. I did a little film experimenting myself, but it never got too detailed.

Stunt Island Box

The summer of 1996, I got graphical web access for the first time ever. I immediately started making a website about my favorite piece of software, Stunt Island. A few months after I put up Stunt Island Central, Deadphrog contacted me and started up the Stunt Island Filmmakers Association (SIFA). That led to the golden age of Stunt Island filmmaking, with dozens of films with increasing quality and complexity released over the next 3 years. A highlight was when Adrian Stephens himself contacted me, and we all had an IRC chat with him. By the time I finished my film PittJet in 1998, I was running SI comfortably on a blazing fast 100 MHz Pentium!

End of an Era

SIFA activity was slowing by 1999, although some films were still being made. When I got a new computer in 2000, it did not run Stunt Island with sound. That, along with being busy at college, effectively ended my active involvement with the game and community. I am extremely grateful for those that kept making films and having discussion during this time. Dean Newbury made some of the last surviving Stunt Island projects that I know of, the Jabba the Hutt Christmas in 2001 and a Collage 7 segment in 2002.


On December 5, 2004, Neil Halelamien sent one of the most important messages in SIFA history. He said, We should really consider archiving the films we have sitting on our hard drives online.. I'm kind of afraid that some of the great films that people have made over the years may end up becoming forever lost. This led to the creation of the Stunt Island Archive in 2005 which stayed online for many years. We would not have all the archived films we do today without Neil's initiative.

30 Years Later

As the 30-year anniversary of Stunt Island approaches, there is still a remarkable amount of interest in the game. It is easier to get than ever, thanks to Good Old Games and Steam. You can run it nearly perfectly on modern hardware. There are several great retrospectives, videos, and interviews out there. Of course the code and game itself are forever stuck in early 90s technology, but that doesn't diminish its brilliance. Many of us still remember the magic of hopping into the virtual cockpit, and making a movie at a time when it was otherwise impossible.

Stunt Island gave many of us an early start to filmmaking, and some of the SIFA members are still involved with film and video today. I have a YouTube channel with over 5 million views, my short films have screened around the world and won prizes, and my aerial footage has made it to Sundance Film Festival and the Discovery channel.

So I'm bringing Stunt Island Central back for the first time since 2006. This is my attempt to bring together the most comprehensive set of material about Stunt Island ever assembled. Others have done lots of work to create brilliant films, documents, and programs. I am just making it available in one place, and adding a little content of my own. Enjoy, send me any additional files you have, and we'll see you on the island!


There are way too many to thank, but here are a few. Adrian Stephens and his team for putting the creativity and hard work in to make this all possible. Deadphrog (Jeremy Kaufmann) for the idea and initiative to start a community of filmmakers. Josh Horowitz and Gavin Wigg for making inspiring films, and reconnecting years later. Bill Romig and Dean Newbury for keeping SIFA and Stunt Island discussions going during the later SIFA years.

Mic Healey for keeping Stunt Island constantly on the web for nearly 20 years with Stunt Island Harbor. Neil Halelamien for saving classic films with the Stunt Island Archive. Neil Thomas for his recent video, and Fabien Sanglard for his interview with Adrian, which helped rekindle my interest in Stunt Island. And finally, my parents, who invested lots of time and money to help me pursue my computing interests and (to this day) always encourage me to learn and grow.

Doug Armknecht, December 2021


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