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Weber State University alumnus Russ Adams anxiously awaited the first episode of the Syfy Channel’s reality TV show “Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge” during his premiere party at Kaffe Mercantile on Tuesday night.
Adams was one of 10 competitors who appeared on the show. Each week, they were put in pairs and asked to design a creature, such as the first task’s underwater creature. At the end of an episode, one person is eliminated, until only the winner remains.
“I’m freaking out,” said Adams moments before the premiere. “Every time I think about millions and millions of people who are going to be watching the show, I start to analyze. It’s easy when you’re in front of the camera. You kind of get to know the camera crews. You can make jokes. You can make mistakes and just laugh it off, because it’s just you guys. Now you start to remember some mistakes you might have made, and millions and millions of people are going to see it.”
During the first episode, there was a lot of tension between Adams and his partner. At the premiere party, Adams laughed with friends and family as he watched himself roll his eyes at his partner on screen. He said that although his personality clashed with his partner’s, he ended up making good friends during the show. In fact, he is going to fly one of the cast members out to join him at Comic Con in Salt Lake City this year.
Adams originally arrived in Utah while in the military. He has made his creatures for as long as he can remember, but slowly progressed his designs into a career while helping his friends in the film business.
One of Adams’ friends talked him into auditioning for the show. Adams said he thought the key factor to getting on the show lay in the audition tape.
“We got this odd request that was sent out,” he said. “It looked like it was going to be an independent deal, like maybe a web series. They referred to the show — they were very secretive — it was referred to as ‘the untitled creature show.’ So we didn’t know anything about it.”
Adams said his friend encouraged him to submit some of his work even though the deadline for submission was only one week out. Adams said his friend said it was “put-up-or-shut-up time. You should do this. You’re an idiot if you don’t do this.”
Adams submitted his package, receiving positive feedback from those in charge of casting.
“After the audition video was done, I saw it and I thought, ‘He’s going,’” said Adams’ girlfriend, Jaymee Lords. “’There is no way that they wouldn’t take him.’”
Adams’ friend Dave Adamic filmed the audition tape. They put the tape together in one day. Adamic said that at one point, he had to leave to switch his camera memory.
“When I switched memory, he (Adams) chucked it, because he hated it,” Adamic said. “So we didn’t get (the shot), so we just started over. He created this monster zombie owl thing that is terrifying . . . It was really exciting.”
Two weeks later, Adams was picked out of approximately 1,000 people to fly to Los Angeles for a mini competition against 40 other people.
Adams said the competitors were basically on lockdown. They were not allowed to talk to each other or the outside world, and they even had to complete psych evaluations. Afterward, Syfy flew them home, where Adams waited a couple of months to find out if he would be on the show.
It was mid-October when he got the call. “They said, ‘Say goodbye to your family, make up a story, because you’re not coming back for two months,’” Adams said.
Once the competitors arrived at the cast house, the crew took away all their technology devices.
“It was difficult,” Lords said. “They only let him call — I think it was once a week he was allowed to call. So that was hard, to have him gone for that long, but I knew it would be worth it in the end.”
Adams said the experience was great. “If ever anyone gets the opportunity to at least try, they should do it,” he said. “When you get there you can think twice about what you did to yourself.”
“Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge” airs Tuesday nights 10/9 Central on the Syfy Channel.