Shane Acker

Shane Richard Acker[2] (born 1971 in Wheaton, Illinois) is an American animator, film director, screenwriter and animation teacher known for directing 9, which is based on his 2005 Academy Award-nominated short film, of the same title. He is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles.

Shane Acker
Acker in July 2009
Shane Richard Acker

1971 (age 49–50)
Alma materUniversity of California, Los Angeles
OccupationAnimator, film director, screenwriter, animation teacher
Years active1999–present
Spouse(s)Sybil Wickersheimer

Early lifeEdit

As a child Acker was hyperactive, so his parents encouraged him to draw.[3] Acker originally set a goal of becoming an architect; he earned a bachelor's degree in architecture from the University of Florida in 1994 as well as a master's degree from the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture.[3]


Upon graduating in 1999, he decided to become a film-maker and went to study at UCLA's Animation Workshop. There he created The Hangnail, The Astounding Talents of Mr. Grenade, and 9, and earned in 2004 a master's degree in animation.[3] His original short titled 9 took him four and a half years to complete and was released in 2005. Acker concurrently held a position at Weta Digital in 2004 as an animator, where he focused on CG characters and creatures, followed by NCsoft from 2005 to 2006 as both an animator and CG generalist.[4]

Acker wrote, directed, and co-animated the award-winning animated short film 9, which won a student award and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film and was shown at SIGGRAPH Electronic Theater. Tim Burton (Beetlejuice, Batman and The Nightmare Before Christmas) saw Acker's short film and, with the help of Timur Bekmambetov (director of Wanted) from Focus Features, produced the feature film with Attitude Studios in Luxembourg and Starz Animation in Toronto, with Acker as the head director and storywriter.

He is also a visiting professor at Loyola Marymount University.

From January 2009 to 2010[4] Acker worked as an instructor for an advanced animation class at the Gnomon School of Visual Effects. He worked at Gnomon on a short film Plus Minus,[5] co-directed by Aristomenis Tsirbas which was due for release in late 2011 but has yet to be released.[6]

In June 2011, Acker was chosen to direct a new live-action adaptation of the children's book and TV series, Thomas & Friends. He will be working from a script by Chris Viscardi, Will McRobb and Josh Klausner. Weta Digital will create the film's visual effects, with design by Weta Workshop Design Dept.[7] As of June 2020, the film's current status remains unknown.

As of 2011, Acker formed Benthos Studio, an animation production company with partners Greg Little, Jack Mitchell and Brown Bag Films.

In 2012, Shane Acker confirmed that he planned to work with Valve to create his next animated feature film, Deep. Like 9, the film will be in a post-apocalyptic world, although it has no relation to 9 and is set in a different universe, where World War III has forced humans underground. Deep will be another darker animated film, as Shane Acker has expressed his interest in creating more PG-13 animated films.[8]


Shane Acker has cited The Brothers Quay, Don Hertzfeldt, Jan Švankmajer, and brothers Wolfgang and Christoph Lauenstein as inspirations.[9]



Year Title Director Writer Animator Visual Effects Notes
1999 The Hangnail Yes Yes Yes Short film
2003 The Astounding Talents of Mr. Grenade Yes Yes Short film
Also cinematographer
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Yes Animator
2005 9 Yes Yes Yes Short film
2009 9 Yes Yes Directorial debut
Wrote story
2010 A Jake and a Tom[10] Yes Short film
Plus Minus Yes Short film
2012 Journey 2: The Mysterious Island Yes Previsualization Artist
Total Recall Yes
2013 Oz the Great and Powerful Yes
47 Ronin Yes Previsualization Supervisor
TBA Beasts of Burden[11] Yes
Deep[12] Yes Yes Wrote story
The Adventures of Thomas[13] Yes

Video gamesEdit

Year Title Animator Notes
2005 Guild Wars Yes Cutscene animator

Critical receptionEdit

Film Rotten Tomatoes IMDb Metacritic
9 57%[14] 7.1/10 [15] 60 [16]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award Category Title Result
1999 MicroCineFest Audience Choice Award Best Short The Hangnail Won
2005 Annecy International Animated Film Festival Graduation Films (Junior Jury Award) 9 Won
Graduation Films (Special Distinction) Won
BendFilm Festival Jury Prize Best Animated Short Won
Student Academy Award Animation Won
2006 Academy Award Best Animated Short Film Nominated


  1. ^ "Independent Exposure - Shane Acker". Archived from the original on 20 October 2013. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  2. ^ "People Search Report on Shane Richard Acker in Los Angeles, CA". Intelius. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Schmelzer, Randi (April 1, 2006). "Cartoon Character: Shane Acker". UCLA Magazine. Retrieved September 12, 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ a b "Shane Acker — Professional Profile". Retrieved 25 August 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ "Plus Minus | A short film by the students of Gnomon School of Visual Effects". Archived from the original on 2016-03-17. Retrieved 2016-08-08. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ "Gnomon Studios Unveils Shane Acker's New Short Plus Minus | Animation World Network". 2011-07-11. Retrieved 2016-08-08. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ Fleming, Mike (2011-06-08). "'9' Helmer Shane Acker Boards Feature Based On The Thomas The Tank Engine Toys". Retrieved 2016-08-08. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ Sandy Schaefer (2012-06-08). "'9' Director Teaming With Valve for Post-Apocalyptic Animated Film, 'Deep'". Retrieved 2016-08-08. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ Ogden, Steve (2007). "Shane Acker's 9: A Conversation With The Director". animWATCH. Archived from the original on 21 June 2009. Retrieved 8 August 2015.
  10. ^ Hyler, West (Director) (2010). A Jake and a Tom (Motion picture). Hyler, West. Archived from the original on 18 June 2011. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  11. ^ "Shane Acker to Direct Beasts of Burden". February 20, 2013. Retrieved February 20, 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ "Director Shane Acker ("9"), Ireland's Brown Bag Films, Producer Gregory R. Little and Author J. Barton Mitchell Launch Animated Undersea Adventure Film "Deep"". Cartoon Brew. Chris Arrant. Retrieved 26 June 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ Fleming, Mike (8 June 2011). "'9' Helmer Shane Acker Boards Feature Based on the Thomas The Tank Engine Toys". Retrieved 21 March 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^ "9 (2009) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 25 August 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^ "9 (2009) - IMDb". IMDb. Retrieved 26 March 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. ^ "Critic Reviews for 9 - Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved 25 August 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External linksEdit