Shane Acker Talks 9 and Beyond
BD: What can you tell me about it?
SA: Well, it's really short: I think it's going to be three or three-and-a-half minutes. And, again, it's returning to my roots as a non-verbal storyteller. It's real character-based. Gnomon is sort of known for their visual design and effects work but not so much for character animation, so it's bringing something new into the school. But it's this tale that takes place above the planes of hell in like this Dante's Inferno world. There are these two demons that are biding their time and they're caught in a struggle of miscommunication; they're both missing vital pieces of themselves, important for communication, but they each contain the piece in their possession that will complete the other. But somehow, because they can't communicate, it just turns into this terrible battle that ultimately leads to their fate, and you get the sense that this is something repeats endlessly, and that's their place in hell. It's a pretty neat little story with some interesting character designs, so I'm excited about working on it.
BD: And you get to collaborate with the students.
SA: Yeah, which is great, because I spent time as a teacher all through my education. At UCLA, I was a teaching assistant and I really love working with artists in general, especially young artists, and see what they bring to the table and how excited they are to learn and be a part of it. And, again, looking for this unfettered imagination that is not tarnished at all by production experience and all these kinds of things that can bog you down after a while and limit your vision.
BD: So, when do you start?
SA: It's happening now: I've storyboarded it and we've been cutting it and I think the end of September we'll start producing it.
BD: And what about any potential features in the works?
SA: There are two projects: a live-action that hasn't been announced that we're trying to get a development deal on, kind of a fantasy world, based on a young-adult novel series out of the U.K., which will be a lot of fun because it has this very interesting core of characters. And then there's an animated film that we're pitching to the studios right now that's based on a graphic novel -- a kind of Secret of NIMH meets Dark Crystal meets Lord of the Rings. It's all told deep in the unforeseen forest and it's a dark, dramatic, epic adventure film.
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN and VFXWorld.