Hollywood director screens film for Earth Week

Tom Shadyac, the Hollywood director of "Liar, Liar," "Bruce Almighty," "The Nutty Professor" and "Ace Ventura," was living a successful life by traditional standards. But after buying his first mansion, he did not find himself any happier.

Shadyac started to ask questions like, “what’s wrong with our world?” and “what can we do about it?”

He began his journey by filming the documentary titled "I am," which was screened at Santa Monica College Friday afternoon, followed by a discussion of the film led by Shadyac.

“I invited him here because it is an amazing film; this is the fourth time I’ve seen it,” said Sheila Laffey, adjunct film professor at SMC. “I specifically asked Tom to come this week because it is Earth Week. This film has implications for the planet.”

The film showed Shadyac visiting authors, poets, teachers, scientists and religious leaders to ask his existential questions. While doing so, a shift in Shadyac occurred, which led him to sell his mansion and start living a more simple life centered around community.

He said that the pressure of making the documentary was not as heavy as when making a "showbiz" movie because they were able to take their time. But he said he felt more of a personal pressure for the film to be right.

Shadyac said that people do not take responsibility for the love and happiness in their lives, but instead chase an illusion that being rich means being happy.

"We don’t focus on the greed in our own hearts," Shadyac said. "There is all this violence out there, yet we don’t focus on the violence in our own hearts. I believe that out there is a reflection of what goes on in [people's hearts].”

SMC student Brandon Yoke attended the screening and was able to take something positive from it.

“I didn’t know what to expect from the film," Yoke said. "Once he started pointing out how one individual can change a community is what really moved me. He was really funny. He kept me entertained the whole time.”

Shadyac said he does not believe in competition and the Darwinian ideologies, such as the survival of the fittest.

“Everything that is thriving over the long haul is in a state of cooperation,” Shadyac said.

Laffey said that the first Earth Day in 1970 was an example of what Shadyac referred to after the screening of the documentary. She said that people came together to such a extent that President Nixon then signed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act, and founded the Environmental Protection Agency.

“There is a paradigm shift that is happening," Laffey said. "The darkest hour is always before the dawn. I hope this film lights a fire in the students so they can make a difference.”