Shaun Piccinino said he knew he wanted to be involved in film ever since his first stage production when he was 5 years old.
Piccinino, a Huntington Beach resident who never went to film school, has been noted for his visual effects work with productions like Cartoon Network's clay-animated shows "Robot Chicken" and "Moral Orel," as well as his work directing episodes of Spike TV's "Deadliest Warrior."
His second directed feature film, "The Lackey," has gained notoriety in various film festivals, including this weekend's SoCal Film Festival in Huntington Beach.
"The Lackey" follows bad man Jude St. Clere (Piccinino), who discovers that his junkie ex-girlfriend had his daughter, who is practically homeless and malnourished. He vows to take care of her and leave his dark past behind, but must endure one last job and finds himself in a bloody Mob war in order to earn enough money to provide for his child.
For "The Lackey," Piccinino not only directed the film, but also edited it and acted as the main character.
He said he feels that the key to success is knowing all aspects of film, not just one element like acting or directing.
"In this day and age and economy, you have to diversify or die," he said. "It also helps as an independent filmmaker because you never know how you're going to get your projects, so it's extremely important to be able to know how to do a lot of these things as a means for an end.
"There are two things that are extremely important for a director. I think they should know how to act, or at least understand it, and know how to edit. When you're shooting and you're already seeing the edit in your head, it will save you time, make your story more coherent and just make everything work out more smoothly."
"The Lackey's" visual effects nod to filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie, who Piccinino said inspired him as a director.
"The image quality is really high quality," he said. "But we wanted it to feel gritty, like it was maybe shot in the '70s or '80s, so we took those images and damaged them in post. We saturated and sucked out a lot of the colors. … It's kind of funny to shoot on such a high resolution, then edit it to make it look old and gritty."
"The Lackey" won the Best Editing for Feature Film award at the eighth annual Action on Film International Film Festival in August.
Piccinino said the biggest secret to success in the film business is perseverance.
"You just have to stick it out," he said. "The people who stay are working, so that is a huge success in a way. The ones who keep going at it will make it. It's not always about the greatest talents, but it's about the people who are the hungriest and stay the longest."
"The Lackey" will be shown at the SoCal Film Festival at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $5. For more information about the film, visit thelackeymovie.com.
The SoCal Film Festival will take place Thursday through Saturday at the Huntington Beach Central Library Theatre, 7111 Talbert Ave.
For more information about the festival and a complete schedule, visit socalfilmfest.com.