WIU Grad Works on “Sharknado” Movie

Ryan Budds, WIU Alum in Sharknado in SyFy

Ryan Budds, a 2008 Western Illinois University graduate with a degree in English, bills himself as a comedian, writer, trivia host and superhero on his website. Photo by Syfy (Syfy Media, LLC)

Ryan Budds, a 2008 Western Illinois University graduate with a degree in English, bills himself as a comedian, writer, trivia host and superhero on his website. The Midwest native, who now lives in California, recently added actor to that list, working as an extra in the science fiction movie, “Sharknado.”

Budds played a “beach victim” in the recently aired television movie from the SyFy channel that has created quite a buzz. He also worked as a production assistant on the film.

“I got to be killed in the first few minutes of ‘Sharknado,’ he told the website, ‘UPROXX: the Culture of What’s Buzzing.'” (uproxx.com/tv/2013/07/i-was-killed-by-a-shark-in-sharknado-this-is-my-story/) “We started filming in January, and the days were long and hard. Lots of hauling stuff, unpacking/packing trucks and driving people around on errands. Not exactly glamorous, especially on a low budget movie. But I learned a lot about how to make a movie and eventually the day came where I got to drop the equipment and get in front of the camera for my cameo.”

Budds earned the right to act in the movie by winning a comedy contest at Flappers in Burbank, CA.

“I was to play Beach Victim #1,” he said. “They put me in beach clothes and covered my leg in prosthetics and makeup to make it look like a shark had chomped it off.”

Budds he has worked as a comedian, opening for comics such as Dennis Miller, Zach Galafinakis and the Wayans Brothers.

Two WIU Graduates Part of Chicago Theatrical Production

Spelling Bee 1

Two Western Illinois University alums are part of a July production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” at Theatre at the Center in Chicago. The production opens today (July 11).

Ann Davis is a 1996 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in industrial technology and a minor in art and a 1999 Master’s of Fine Art graduate. Patrick Tierney is a 2007 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in musical theatre.

Davis is the production manager and technical director for the production, while Tierney plays the part of Leaf Coneybear.

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is a musical based around six students in a spelling bee, each with personal quirks.

Davis said she feels Western’s industrial technology program is an excellent academic path that has helped her career.

“David Patrick in the theatre department was a very kind man who saw potential in my design skills,” she said. “Ray Gabica was extremely inspiring as a professor and coworker. Mike Thompson had a lot to do with me finding the theatre department.”

Tierney said his Western education taught him that “the work can never stop.”

“At WIU, I learned that you always have to keep going, always striving for new ways to improve, new ways to grow,” he said. “I haven’t stopped the work since I left WIU. The positivity I received in the theatre department is something that I have kept with me in my professional career, and it has helped immensely.”

The production runs through Aug. 18. For more information about the play, visit theatreatthecenter.com.