Fourth-year Ryerson film student Aidan Shipley, left, plays Dane O’Reilly in Disney XD’s new zombie summer-camp flick Bunks. PHOTO courtesy of Disney XD

Summer camp of the dead

In Arts & Life /

By Tamara Sestanj

Ryerson film student Aidan Shipley spent his summer like many university students do, working to help pay for school expenses. The only difference is that, for Shipley, work consisted of fighting zombies at a summer camp.

Shipley has a starring role in the new Disney XD movie Bunks, which premiered Oct. 27. He plays Dane O’Reilly, a 17-year-old camp counsellor who, with his younger brother Dylan, stumbles upon a cursed ancient book. The book makes every horror story they read come alive, ultimately unleashing zombies on Camp Bushwhack.

“Filming the movie made me kind of miss the entire camp atmosphere,” Shipley says. “The kids who played in our cabin were super cute and awesome, and all the other older counsellors were a lot of fun to be around.”

Shipley grew up in Stratford, Ont., surrounded by theatre. He received his first acting job at the age of eight in the Stratford production of Medea, an ancient Greek tragedy written by Euripides.

A few years later, he returned to the festival stage for a larger role in Shakespeare’s King John.

Despite growing up as a child actor, Shipley says he had a normal childhood. Shipley, who is currently in his final year, knew that he wanted to enter either Ryerson’s film or theatre program. He ultimately decided on the film program as it allowed him to continue acting on-screen while in school.

“I knew once I started [acting] that I’d really only be happy if I was doing this kind of stuff,” says Shipley. “I wouldn’t be happy if it was any other way.”

Along with being a full-time student, Shipley finds the time to go to one to two auditions weekly.

This allows him to pursue both of his passions at the same time, directing in school and acting when he’s not in class.

Apart from Bunks, Shipley has also had other roles, including one in the television series Flashpoint, as well as in the Life with Derek movie, Vacation with Derek. More recently, Shipley finished filming the upcoming movie The Captive, which gave him the opportunity to work with fellow Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds.

Shipley is not sure about what he wants to do after he graduates.

He hopes that ultimately he will be able to make a career out of both acting and directing.

For others who wish to pursue acting, Shipley suggests to find a way to set yourself apart from others and to be prepared for a lot of rejecti on.

“Be sure it’s something you really want to do and pursue it with everything you’ve got.”

Bunks will have its Family Channel premiere on Nov. 8 at 8 p.m.

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