Video:9 - Director Shane Acker Interview, Comic Conwith Rebecca Murray
Shane Acker invested four years of his life making a short film filled with unique creatures. Acker's work earned him an Oscar nomination and the chance to expand the universe he created into '9', a feature film produced by Tim Burton.See Transcript
Transcript:9 - Director Shane Acker Interview, Comic ConFocus Features' 9 at the 2009 San Diego Comic Con.
9 Director Shane Acker
How tough was it to take that short film and make it really long?
Shane Acker: "It was tough. It was a challenge. But what was fun was that in the short film I only had two characters. I had 9 and 5 and you kind of get a sense of, you see bits and pieces of the other characters but they're not in the film. So that was really exciting to explore what a full range of these different characters would be. And then also the idea of being able to explain to the audience where this world came from and how it came to be, and how these ragdolls are intimately connected with the downfall of humanity and the new possible future. There was just a lot of rich, fun material to mine with. It was daunting but just the process of creating is what just kind of drove me forward, and knowing that I had some amazing filmmakers behind me like Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov who were very supportive and saw the vision and were great touchstones to go to with feedback. It was really an enjoyable process in the end."
Could you have a better life with those guys behind you?
Shane Acker: "No. I know, it was a dream come true. Just having them see my film was a dream come true but then having them say, 'Hey, let's do something bigger,' was just amazing."
Where did the world come from in the first place?
Shane Acker: "It came from here."
Do you always have these strange dolls inside your head?
Shane Acker: "Yeah, I do. Thank god I have an outlet for this kind of stuff, you know? No, I mean it really came from the characters. I imagined these creatures that were living in a world after we had gone, and they're just finding and scavenging bits and pieces of the world and they're a real creative force. They're making a new life for themselves in our wake, but they're being pursued by these animalistic creatures that seek to destroy that - that creativity, that positivity. And it's just about how they can use their intellect to overcome these creatures, rather than their might."
You come from an architecture background, right?
Shane Acker: "That's right."
How does that translate into animation? It seems like it would go hand in glove because you're creating worlds.
Shane Acker: "Yeah, it does. Exactly. I think that's what it is - I'm creating a world. And then to try and bring believability to that world you have to understand how that world functions and how it is put together, and the history of that world. And a lot of that stuff you learn studying architecture."
How hands on was Tim Burton?
Shane Acker: "They were both very supportive. I would solicit them, I would ask them for their feedback because you want that. And I learned that doing the short. I was always trying to get feedback and criticisms because it just helps make a better film. And they were always there to offer suggestions and solutions, but they never really forced anything on me, which was really great just to know that you had that support."
Why did it take you four years to do the short?
Shane Acker: "I didn't know anything about CG animation. I'd never done computer animation. You're learning technically the software at the same time you're trying to create your vision. And you know animation is a ridiculously meticulous endeavor. And I was also trying to support myself and make a living at the same time. So it's like six months on, six months off to make some money, and then six months on. So it was kind of an off and on thing."
Is animation where you're going to dwell?
Shane Acker: "I love animation. I love world-making, so whether it's world-making in an animated world or world-making in a live-action world with lots of fantastical elements, that's kind of where I feel I can make my mark and where my interests lie."