Lightning Entertainment has secured international sales rights for the local hit comedy Kenny, which has earned A$7 million and is still in Australian cinemas after 13 weeks.

The documentary-style film, distributed by Madman, is about an ordinary man who works for a company that provides toilets for events. It has hit such a chord with Australians that it is the biggest homegrown earner at cinemas so far this year.

Rights to the film were available because it was made outside Australia's traditional funding system, which insists that distribution and sales agency deals are in place in advance.

Kenny's producers, Clayton Jacobson and Rohan Timlock from production company Ghost Pictures, were this morning named the best feature producers of 2006 by the Screen Producers Association of Australia (SPAA) as its annual conference got underway on the Gold Coast. Completion guarantor Rob Fisher, who died earlier this year, won the prestigious Maura Fay Award for services to the industry. Post-production company Cutting Edge won the services and facilities category.

Jacobson directed Kenny and wrote the script with his brother Shane, who plays the title role (their father and Clayton's son are also among the cast). Its budget, about A$500,000-A$600,000 in cash terms, all came from Glenn Preusker, whose company supplies toilets for events and who provided equipment and many of the staff. Preusker knew the Jacobson brothers through their day jobs in events management and corporate and commercial production.

Clayton Jacobson believes that the way the film was marketed added to its success: the film-makers refused to talk about how little the film was made for; and most of the publicity was done by Shane Jacobson in character as Kenny. They say they were also spurred on by the level of goodwill towards the film from the public and exhibitors alike.

"A couple has to spend A$30 of their hard-earned cash to see a film. Revealing how cheaply Kenny was made for would have made them think that they were not going to get something that was entertaining," said Jacobson, who started to get calls from overseas sales agents within a week of the film opening in cinemas.

"Never in our wildest dreams did we expect it to go as well as it has. Audiences see themselves in Kenny and feel it is a real portrayal of the Australia psyche."