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Filmmaker Tom Shadyac engaged in deep conversations with Santa Monica College students about his experience, thoughts, and opinions on various human topics that he explored in his novel and documentary “I Am.”
Photo by David Craze
Filmmaker Tom Shadyac engaged in deep conversations with Santa Monica College students about his experience, thoughts, and opinions on various human topics that he explored in his novel and documentary “I Am.”

News, Santa Monica College, Santa Monica

Santa Monica College Students Enjoy Evening With Filmmaker Tom Shadyac

Posted Apr. 28, 2014, 9:19 am

Special To The Mirror

By Amy Law

Community. Cooperation. Connectivity. Simplicity. Authenticity. These five words were written largely on the whiteboard in the auditorium at Santa Monica College on the evening of March 25.  

The purpose of these five words was to sum up the values of guest speaker Tom Shadyac.

Shadyac is known as a successful Hollywood director, producer, and writer of comedic feature films such as “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” “The Nutty Professor,” “Patch Adams,” “Bruce Almighty,” “Accepted,” and “Evan Almighty.”

However, for Santa Monica College students and other audience members, the evening’s event was not about comedy or getting the latest scoop on Shadyac’s next Hollywood project.  

The evening was a spirit of inquiry into Shadyac’s experiences, values, and opinions on a variety of human topics he presents in novel and in his documentary, “I Am.”  

In 2007, Shadyac suffered post-concussion syndrome after a bicycling accident.  

It was during this time of physical and mental pain and suffering, Shadyac awoken to a new perspective on life and sought to explore the answers to two very profound questions: “What’s wrong with world?” and “What can we do about it?”  

He shares all his findings along with his personal perspective in his novel and documents his journey in his film.  Shadyac wants to share with the world his views and learn what others are thinking.  

He’s so genuinely curious and open to other perspectives and opinions, especially that of young adults, that he excitedly accepts the invitation from the Santa Monica College English and Business Departments to speak each year.

This evening marks his fourth time at Santa Monica College. Shadyac reflects the spirit of generosity. He is not paid for the evening and each semester he gladly donates his time as well as copies of his novels and DVD to the students.  

This is not a publicity stunt or a way to promote his next film project. This is also not a lecture. Shadyac is not going through each and every topic in his book, but letting the students come to him with questions, their opinions, and their perspective.

Simply put, Shadyac hopes to create conversation in young adults to raise consciousness.  

An array of topics were discussed: energy of the human spirit, the meaning behind a René Descartes’s quote, “I think therefore I am,” insight on self-happiness, the good and bad in the world, death, utopian society, materialism and wealth, evolving intelligence in the human species, where the world is heading towards, population growth and globalization, the idea of judgment, and fear.  

These were not topics that Shadyac picked, but rather questions and thoughts that students and the Santa Monica College community had for him.  

These were topics that he welcomed and provided his insight on while asking for the audience’s opinion in return.   

It was an evening of thought-proving conversation that was refreshing to see in a young generation. It was inspiring to witness students stand up and ask what they can do make the world a good and better place. It was refreshing to see the care and thoughts these young students had towards global and human topics.  

The idea that this generation does not care is not accurate statement for this audience.

It should be noted that Shadyac never ever claims to be right; he emphasizes to the audience several times, “I am not right. I am not right.  I am not right.”  

Whether the student or audience member agrees with Shadyac’s outlook towards life and life’s issues was not the focus.

The focus was to have a conversation about such topics in order to be more knowledgeable about the world that surrounds each person. This goal was thoroughly achieved.  

This was further affirmed when a student rose from his seat to ask Shadyac a question.  He looks directly and confidently towards Shadyac and begins his question with, “Good Evening Professor Shadyac.”  

Shadyac quickly dismisses the title professor as he is not a teacher. The student replies, “Yes.  Yes, you are. You taught everyone in this room.”

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Apr. 30, 2014, 11:29:11 am

yolanda Tamez said...

Of course this is wonderful to read and indeed he is. When I first saw the movie I was like he is the modern day messiah, and it's because he gave me hope and faith again...This world needs a big wake up call if it is to survive. People need to get it, we are destroying all of our natural resources slowly but surely, we are polluting our oceans. We need to do all we can to preserver this great planet and well and be their for one another, and stop idealizing all those superficial things like big houses and fancy cars ...It's not about idols it's about people and doing what we can to see every is loved and has a worth, NO one is any more worthy then the next, when are we gonna get the big picture, and is in the giving, being successful but doing all you can to help much greed and evil in the world today. It is so disheartening to always see of the tv nothing much then who was killed where and when. What have we become...It all needs to stop.....Love needs to grow and the message is strong, and wonderful....Give peace a chance,, and love your fellow man....It feels good to be a part of what has real meaning in life...that is it.....Modern day man of no reputation....

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