Shane Acker was born in Wheaton, Illinois and grew up along the East Coast. He received dual Masters Degrees, for Architecture (in 2000) and Animation (in 2004) from UCLA. He wrote, directed, and animated the 11-minute short film "9," which was completed in 2004 as his UCLA thesis film. Prior to that, he wrote, directed, and animated the 2-minute short "The Hangnail" (1999) and the 1-minute "The Astounding Talents of Mr. Grenade" (2003); and worked as an animator on Peter Jackson's Academy Award-winning "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," which starred Elijah Wood of "9." He qualified for, and received, an Academy Award nomination in 2006 (in the Best Animated Short Film category) by virtue of "9" having won the Gold Medal (the top prize) at the Student Academy Awards as well as "Best of Show' honors at the 2005 SIGGRAPH Electronic Theater. "9" screened at over a dozen film festivals around the world, including the Sundance and Cinequest ones. In 2005, at San Diego's annual Comic-Con event, Mr. Acker won Best Animated Film (for "9") and a Special Judges' Choice Award. Among the other honors that the short received were Best Animated Short Film, at the Newport Beach Film Festival; the Junior Jury Award for Best Student Animation, at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival; a Special Jury Prize for Excellence in Animation, at the Indianapolis International Film Festival; the award for Best CGI, and the Audience Award for Best CGI, at the Melbourne International Animation Festival; the Grand Jury Award for Best Animated Short, at the Florida Film Festival; the Best College Animation and the Student Best of Show awards, at the George Lindsey UNSA Film Festival; the 1st Prize 3D Character Animation Award, at the Animex International Festival of Animation; and 1st Place in the Non-Traditional Animation category, at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation College Awards. "9" is Mr. Acker's first feature film as director.