“The purpose of emotional pain is to help you grow spirituality. It brings your attention to the parts of your personality that you need to heal in order to move into your full potential.”–Gary Zukav
In 2007, Tom Shadyac had a bike accident that left him with a broken hand, debilitating headaches, post-concussion syndrome and a profound urgency that his life needed a major change in emphasis and direction.
Shadyac was once a celebrated comedy director in the business, having made a substantial fortune with his movies “The Nutty Professor,” “Liar Liar” and “Bruce Almighty.”
Prior to the accident, Shadyac lived in a 17,000 square-foot mansion in Pasadena but remained hesitant to fully embrace Hollywood. “I had a woman at my production company whose job was to find people in need that we could help — people whose houses had burned down, kids in a blind children’s center,” he said in a recent interview. “But I didn’t realize that even though I was giving my money away, my own life was a very poor reflection of who I thought I was. I thought I was taking care of others, but I was really only taking care of me.”
Feeling the persistent imbalance between where he was and where he wanted to be, Shadyac said, “I couldn’t decry the gap between the rich and the poor and actually be the gap between the rich and the poor. As Mr. Gandhi says, you have to be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Prior to the fall he had already begun to give away some of his money and shed his lavish possessions. Finally, after the accident and during the long months of recovery, Shadyac decided this was the time to evolve from his role as a notable comedic Hollywood director into a person who wanted to discuss more intriguing ideas like what’s wrong with the world, and what can we do about it?
He decided his next film could explore why today’s culture is so obsessed with competition and separation, instead of community and cooperation, and why man is often more competitive than cooperative, more aggressive than empathetic.
Now at 51 years old, Shadyac steps onto a different trajectory and appears on-screen as character, commentator, guide, and even, at times, guinea pig in his new film, I AM the documentary.
In I AM Shadyac meets with a variety of thinkers comprised of remarkable men and women from the worlds of science, philosophy, and faith–including such luminaries as David Suzuki, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Lynne McTaggart, Ray Anderson, John Francis, Coleman Barks, and Marc Ian Barasch.
The movie sets out to explore the notion that our economy and way of life are based on selfish materialism that actually go against our true nature, which is to co-operate and unite. Shadyac examines the common ground between science and forms of spirituality and examines new discoveries in both areas:
- “We are more inter-connected with each other at a fundamental level than previously thought.”
- “The science shows that there are very deep connections between us at deep levels.”
- “We are born to be our bothers keeper.”
- “What we do at an individual level really does affect the global environment.”
- “We’re really here at a primordial level to feel what another person feels.”
The movie is scheduled for theater release in February 2011, with various screenings throughout the month of January continuing into the first week of February in Colorado and California.
All proceeds from the film will go to The Foundation For I Am, a not-for-profit established by Shadyac to fund various worthy causes and to educate the next generation about the very issues and problems explored in the film.