It’s difficult to tell where a student project might take a person. Take Shane Acker M.Arch ’98, M.F.A. ’04, whose animated short film 9 won a 2005 Student Academy Award, landed him a production deal and earned him a 2006 Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Short Film.
“That’s right,” Acker says, “my dreams have come true. I’ve teamed up with Tim Burton, Timur Bekmambetov [director of Night Watch], Dana Ginsberg, Jim Lemley, Pamela Pettler and the fine folks at Focus Features to develop the award-winning short 9 into a feature.”
9 is the story of a mechanical beast that attacks two rag doll creatures as they scavenge the ruins of their world. After witnessing the death of his mentor 5, the rag doll 9 must confront this vile creature. Only through cunning and the use of his primitive technology can 9 hope to destroy the monster and steal the talisman of trapped souls it carries as a trophy.
Originally from Wheaton, Ill., Acker studied architecture and worked as a designer for several years before becoming an animator. His first film, The Hangnail was completed at the UCLA Animation Workshop, and has screened internationally at both the Animac film festival in Spain, and the NXN festival in England.
Acker also worked on character animation for The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King; wrote, directed and animated the independent film The Astounding Talents of Mr. Grenade; and worked on a number of videogames, including Guild Wars and Lego Racers 4-D.