Directing successful Hollywood movies brought with it the spoils of success, i.e. lots of money. A growing discomfort with my new-found "wealth" (and the agreements we make to get that wealth) led me to give away much of this money to people and organizations that needed it more. Quietly, I dismantled much of my estate, eventually trading a mansion for a mobile home. (Don't feel bad for me, it's a beautiful mobile home, but one that is out of the bigger-is-better paradigm.) For the next 10 years, I kept most of the changes in my life to myself, until one fateful day in 2007, when a routine concussion from a mountain bike accident turned deadly, and would change the course of my life forever. I made a documentary about it, and now a book.

Alright all. Thanks for meeting me here. If you want to dive in deeper, please go to our website, or you can check out I AM at Our book is available for free online, or you can buy a hard copy from Amazon or any Barnes and Noble. All proceeds/profits are donated to charity. Love you all and appreciate you! And in the immortal words of Ace Ventura, TAKE CARE NOW, BYE-BYE THEN!!!

Comments: 165 • Responses: 35  • Date: 

Frajer36 karma

Hey Tom so does Jim Carrey improvise or does he stick to the script usually?

shadyac88 karma

Jim is an incredible improviser. He's flat out a genius when it comes to creating fresh moments during a scene. And yes, he improvises a LOT. But that's always AFTER he's thought about the script from every angle. So he does his homework, considers every written choice, acts the written choice for us, then is free to let it rip!

meganwesko24 karma

Hi! I am a girl in her early twenties who experienced life in the “fast lane” as a model where I had all the riches and materialistic means one could dream of.I had a moment of truth where I realized the exact nature of what I was ACTUALLY doing on so many levels (emotionally, scientifically, GLOBALLY!) and returned to my home state of Vermont to begin to change at age 19. I then proceeded to teach kids how to ski, traveled around the world, read a ton of books and have now been working for two years in a wilderness therapy program that helps young people feel a sense of belonging in nature. Since I was little, I have loved to act and am interested in helping people while pursuing the art of acting but it is in the midst of the very destructiveness that you are well aware of. I have even thought of just donating all the money (save for enough to live on) to charities if I were to go that route. My question for you is do you think its possible for one to use the media as a social platform to help others without having to sacrifice a belief system in order to establish themselves well enough to get jobs in the industry? Also, it seems that there really are not that many positive roles for women. Are the positive, powerful roles so few and far between that ones time would be better spent on other endeavors? Have you considered the idea of starting a movement in the film industry to promote positive and influential messages via film? IF so, please count me in!

shadyac21 karma

Yes, I do believe it's possible to use media for the good of all. Many have done so, and have told stories about the power of love and our connection. I'm sure you've seen It's a Wonderful Life, or Ground Hogs Day. These are just two of many films that uplift us through the creative arts. The question for you might be more personal: Do you believe you, yourself, can keep your center, your peace, in the midst of the present day media chaos? Can you enter that world again and remain true to the principles you hold dear? These are questions only you can answer, and often, you can only them by taking a step. Here's a powerful truth: You cannot think you way to right action. You have to live, and in that living, your path often becomes clear. So what's your next step?

Here's what I believe is the important thing: to follow your heart. What's it telling you to do? Not your head now, your heart. Each of us is called to our own unique path. Some will pursue media that reaches millions; others will use their creativity locally. The size of the work or the audience is irrelevant. Following your heart is the ultimate relevance.

Griffdude1322 karma

New England Clam Chowder.

shadyac20 karma

The red or the white?

Griffdude1311 karma

Ah, I can't it the white?

shadyac16 karma

I can't remember either!!!

shawnfrost22 karma

While your passion is for sharing your newly rediscovered wisdom, and while this is important work and skillfully done, I can't help but selfishly wonder if you will return to comedy directing? The world needs laughter my friend. btw. the book is excellent. thank you for sharing it with the world.

shadyac29 karma

Contrary to rumors out there, I haven't left show business. In fact, I never left show business. I was ill for a while, needed time to recover, and then just wasn't able to get a project off the ground. Doors seem to be reopening now, and I'm currently prepping my next film, a remake of the popular French film, The Intouchables. I agree with you -- laughter heals, and I'm honored to tell stories that can help in that healing.

shadyac18 karma

Alright all. Thanks for meeting me here. If you want to dive in deeper, please go to our website, or you can check out I AM at

Our book is available for free online, or you can buy a hard copy from Amazon or any Barnes and Noble. All proceeds/profits are donated to charity.

Love you all and appreciate you! And in the immortal words of Ace Ventura, TAKE CARE NOW, BYE-BYE THEN!!!

your_friends_cat15 karma

How many drugs were consumed during the production of Ace Ventura?

shadyac28 karma

Ha! You want the dirt, don't you?! I don't do drugs, so I'm not the guy to ask.

mo0gentro13 karma

i must admit, ace ventura was a life changing movie for me. As a kid I did plenty of Ace. To this day, it is probably STILL my favorite movie. For that I'd have to thank you for spending your time doing this movie, and of course Jim for just being the influence he was, and STILL is =) Thank you sir

shadyac10 karma

Back atcha. Alllrightyyyyy Thennnnnn!

The_First_Drop11 karma

Hey Tom, were you more dissatisfied with the lifestyle you had, or the means it took to get there?

shadyac46 karma

The lifestyle was fine, but certainly didn't deliver on the promise of elevating "happiness". I simply found it all neutral, and in some ways, negative. It's fine to have all of that "stuff", but that stuff comes with an energy that can often drain. (It requires a staff to take care of, maintain, etc...) And when I considered the needs of others--how others couldn't meet their basic needs for food, medicine, etc--it didn't feel right.

Also, I was challenged by what you call "the means to get it." And here was the challenge: no one runs up to you and hands you all of that money. You have to ask for it. And by asking for it, what's implied underneath is that I am more valuable than others; more valuable than the cook, the maintenance man, the janitor. And I simply don't believe that. I know our economic texts book will tell us otherwise, but my heart is telling me otherwise.

shawnfrost8 karma

Tom, as someone who has a whole bunch of people around him saying "thanks for picking up litter or for doing the recycling at events" there's no shortage of "wow, that's a great idea." when the subtext is "FOR YOU". Do you get the sense that your friends in the industry feel the same way about your changes (scale only). How do we bridge the gap beyond being an example?

shadyac12 karma

I don't believe it's up to us to bridge any gap -- Be the change you wish to see in the world. Play your note with all that you are. That's where you will find true power. Whether or not others get it or appreciate it is not up to us. Let's not forget, many called Jesus insane (they killed him!); same is true of Gandhi, MLK, and others...

twowhitewolves7 karma

Hi Tom! Love your movies! Can you tell us a bit about the book you just released?

Also, what's the next project you'll be working on? Another movie I hope!

shadyac10 karma

The book is called Life's Operating Manual because I actually believe there's an operating manual for life. You've probably heard people say, "Man, if only life came with an operating manual!" I'm telling you that it does! The hope of the book is to put people in touch with their own hearts, with their own power, so each of us can participate in birthing a more loving, kind, compassionate world.

storyteller_life9 karma

While I admire your compassion and courage to put forth these ideas, I earnestly wonder: how can one book be the operating manual for everyone? With so much diversity and individuality in the world, won't different things 'work' for different people? It just seems a bit short-handed to tie the entire human condition up with a pretty looking bow... And a bit arrogant to say 'hey, here's a manual on how to operate your life"

shadyac14 karma

Ah, yes, great question. I believe life rests, works or thrives on very basic principles. And these principles are universal, meaning they apply to all living things. That's right, all living thing, not just us people. Now, exactly how these principle walk in an individual's life is up to that individual. So as you suggest, the manifestation of those principles will be as varied as the human species itself. But the principles are not varied, they are consistent and true. And life has shown us these principles in nature, biology, particle physics, an oak tree, an ant colony -- all daily demonstrate the laws of life. We have simply forgotten these laws, and until we re-member, our world will continue to suffer the consequences of those broken laws.

ericgmorgan7 karma

Do you have a daily spiritual practice? What does it look like?

shadyac21 karma

Great question, because it IS a practice. I start and end each day on my knees in a prayer, offering my life in service. I usually wake up pretty early, and read something that reminds me of what is Real. I soak in the words of the mystics like Hafiz, Rumi, Emerson, and Mary Oliver. That's what I call a good breakfast, one that provides true nutrition to start the day. I also believe it's important to take care of this vessel, this body, so I usually do something physical and fun--hike, bike, surf. For years, I used to carry inspirational quotes around in my back pocket, not just to memorize, but as armor against the slings and arrows of the day. When the pressures of life felt oppressive, I could always reach into my back pocket and be instantly reminded of a deeper truth...

kekeees7 karma

I am a young actress and would like to know what tips or advice you have about the world of film and television to a newcomer to LA. I am also a budding writer and I hope to someday write for comedy. Do you have any do’s or don’ts? Things to avoid? You are so inspiring and your advice is greatly appreciated!

shadyac24 karma

Just keep at it and keep listening to your heart. You may be out here to learn something about yourself and share in another discipline somewhere down the road. Success is not out there when you (fill in the blank.) Success is right now. Most actors and writers get caught up in the stress of "making it." You have "made it" the second you've had the courage to follow your own heart. Let the results go and enjoy the ride. I honor you for your passion in service to the creative arts.

Angoth6 karma

Don't acquire money or things. Seems to be a recurring theme from those that did.

shadyac6 karma

Amen. Nothing new here, right? Been said and experienced before. Perhaps now it can finally sink it?...

Angoth4 karma

No. You're missing the last part of what I said. I'd gladly take a billion dollars so I can learn that 'lesson'. Money doesn't buy happiness....I'd bet that it buys the things that make me happy. The part that I as a common person can't understand is why you seem to think that a human's disinclination to learn from other humans won't somehow apply to your advice and your epiphany. Do you not remember wanting that much money and those things? Kudos on your epiphany and changes to your life/lifestyle, but I'd rather you have given me the money so I could learn it too.

shadyac15 karma

Sorry, I did misunderstand your question. A couple of thoughts: yes, often people who have made lots of money are the ones who realize that it doesn't make them happy. But they aren't the only ones who have seen through the illusion of money or things. Many people have come to the same realization who had nothing. Gandhi, for example. While he was a lawyer, he certainly wasn't "rich" or a billionaire. But he did discover the same truth -- that happiness comes from relationships, strong connections, finding and following your bliss, etc.

We've been studying this for years in a field called Positive Psychology. If a person is having trouble paying rent, putting food on the table, or exploring his or her passion in life, money definitely will improve their happiness level. But after basic needs are met, beyond that, money consistently does not lead to higher levels of contentment.

Lastly, I actually think that people do learn from one other. This is why we tell stories, to share our experiences, what works and doesn't work in our lives. But you are right, there's nothing like experiencing it yourself. So I wish you well in that experience. History and a myriad of examples tell me you just might reach the same conclusion. Thanks for the dialogue...

aclairebear6 karma

How's the creative process going with Harvey Weinstein on intouchables? You both seem so set in your ways philosophically, but not necessarily on the same page...

shadyac6 karma

I hope I'm not set in my ways! Art is about listening, so my hope is to listen and learn at every turn.

And yes, while we may be different, that difference can make all the difference! Different notes make for the most compelling music; the highs need the lows. Harvey has made some of the most compelling films in history. There's a ton I can learn from him. He's also told me, his specialty isn't comedy. So there's a chance here, if we continue to learn and listen to each other, that we can make something special. This is all a bit fresh, so stay tuned... The right thing will happen, that I trust.

AMA_requester4 karma

I have to ask about Patch Adams. What is your feelings towards the film? Do you agree with the negative reception?

shadyac7 karma

No one's opinion is ever wrong. If someone didn't like Patch, that's their opinion and I accept that.

It's interesting. Patch was the highest scoring film I ever made (highest scoring by the audience's ratings). In fact, it was one of the highest scoring films in the history of the NRG (the National Research Group). It was also by far, the most criticized film I've done. But that's not new really, this gap between critics and the general public...

My gut tells me Patch struck a nerve and therefor elicited strong reactions. It's way out of the paradigm. Patch gave his medical abilities away for free for years. That's very threatening to the established order, and it's possible this triggered a fearful reaction.

1ZenWoman3 karma

I saw I AM thanks to Oprah's Super Soul Sunday and will definitely check out the book now. Do you have other "alt lifestyle" film projects in the queue? Your choices and revelations are wonderful. Thank you!

shadyac5 karma

I have a number of films in various stages of prep that deal with the subject matter I'm passionate about. Again, can't get too specific here, but they are projects that blend heart and humor with the hope of sharing a perspective, and spreading more light and love in the world.

Colander7673 karma

Is there anything weird you learned about actors during the filming?

shadyac11 karma

I don't think in terms of "weird". Actors are incredible. I appreciate them and couldn't do my work without them. Big hug to all who have the courage to wear those emotions on their shirtsleeves and further the conversation about what it means to be human.

xchamp7773 karma

Hey Tom, love your story. How has your story been received in the Hollywood community? Misunderstood? Applauded? Do you know of others who have been inspired by your message?

shadyac7 karma

All of the above. But the majority of my friends in showbusiness have been incredibly supportive of my journey. Of course, I don't speak for them, so you'll have to ask them what exactly has inspired or even challenged them. And the truth is, I am thankful for both -- even for the voices that reject my perspective. They too, play their note, and provide me with the opportunity to love that which may not love me.

loose-anoose3 karma

What types of things made you start to look at the lavish lifestyle and feel like it was too much?

shadyac17 karma

Just experiencing it. I bought into it--got the things, the houses, the private jet--and fully expected that I had arrived. But then that old pesky truth surfaced: wherever you go, there you are. So I woke up in a big house having "arrived", but I still brought with me the same sadness, disconnection, and loneliness. Somehow, I was deluded enough to think that the "stuff" would solve the emptiness. I doesn't and it didn't. What does help it, is practicing the behaviors that actually make people happier: having strong relationships and serving a purpose greater than yourself. When I broke through the walls of my "estate" and let others in, joy followed.

jpfilmmaker2 karma

Tom, I had the pleasure of seeing a screening of I AM followed by a Q&A with you at American University two years ago. I found your documentary and attitude about filmmaking refreshingly honest and heartfelt. I too hope to make films that evoke an emotional response that bring about positive change on a global scale and I see film as the most powerful medium for those lessons. As I graduate and pursue my career in filmmaking I was wondering what your advice is to succeed in an industry so motivated by all too often violent blockbuster hits?

shadyac6 karma

The industry I would encourage you to "succeed in" is Life. Yes, many are telling violent stories which reflect the current violent mindset in our society. You don't have to participate in that mindset. Be kind where others are being cruel. Be love where others are hateful. What you put up that screen is a reflection of who are are. So love all -- even those whose films don't inspire you. Then play a different note. Your success will not be determined by whether 1 or 1 million people see your movie, but rather, whether or not you've had the courage to be true to Yourself.

JPP32 karma

What is your favourite food and drink?

shadyac4 karma

I eat a LOT. It's because I'm so active -- my metabolism is soaring. And I'm a vegetarian, and about 90% vegan. There's this great company a friend turned me onto called Match Meat. They make a mean crabless crab cake that gives me that old time comfort food while honoring my vegetarian lifestyle.

maximusprime222 karma

Thanks for sharing your story. What would you suggest to folks who want to downsize but are unable to due to where they live (I can sell everything I own but I'd still have to pay rent in a big city) or are afraid of taking off all the tethers and totally venturing into the unknown (ie: Quit the job, make a living elsewhere)?

Curious :) Thank you again - I love your work!

shadyac5 karma

Take small steps. One at a time. I took many small steps before I "shed" much of my lifestyle. Start with a conversation. Talk to your friends about what you're feeling. Share your heart and see where it leads you. As you downsize in terms of things, consider "upsizing" in terms of purpose, i.e. do something for someone else. It doesn't have to be grand -- deliver a cup of coffee to someone who is homeless, look in his or eye and tell them they matter. I think most people take on too many decisions at once. You can't see down the road too far, but you can see the step that is revealing itself now, right under your feet. Take that step.

ConsciousJacqueline2 karma

Hi Tom, you so beautifully illumniate the truth in the state of our economy. What can we do to wake the world up so that togethert we can rise up and create change?

shadyac7 karma

If you have seen through the illusion of our economy and its so called laws, you have already taken a powerful step to dismantling it. Kudos to you. But as I write in the book, it's not enough to be against something, we must be for something. So before we can "awaken" a world, we must become the world we wish to see. The only true revolution, after all, is the personal revolution. This is why I continue to retool the way I do business/economy. My hope is to be an example of a different way, to provide a different path to what I call "true wealth." Is there something you can do/create--even in a conversation--that would be the change you wish to see?

lurknit2 karma

Pics of your mobile home?

shadyac2 karma

Don't have any here. It's been featured on a bunch of shows, though.

ShadyAcres2 karma

Hey Tom, I'm a huge fan. I don't have a question for you, but I just want you to know that you and your movies have had a lasting effect on me. You are my role model and have inspired me to work towards my dream of becoming a filmmaker. Thank You.

shadyac2 karma

Awesome. Appreciate you and your kind words. It takes time, so be patient with yourself and the process. Best to you.

wombraider52 karma

Do you think Jim Carrey would ever do an IAMA?

shadyac2 karma

I don't know but I'd sure like to see it!

smish_smorsh2 karma


shadyac2 karma

Ha! Beautiful. The mobile home I first purchased is no longer really mobile. It's really a pre-fab home. A double wide, essentially.

I just heard a good tip about conserving space: Make an inventory of everything you have in your home. If you don't use an item in 30 days, then recycle or repurpose that item. Haven't done that yet, but bet that would lead to some lean living!

daryork2 karma

I don't remember from the book. I'm feeling quite angry at doctors making mistakes, medicine having bad side effects, and this brain disease worsening, and can't find medicine I can tolerate that works. Because of my knee & out of control seizures right now, I'm homebound (unless someone is with me. Then I can walk a short distance with my cane, like a quick ride to the bookstore. I'm sorry to have to be a complainer right now. All I can think of is trying to find "That Peaceful Place", and go to it. Feeling all of this anger, and can't find a place to put it or way to "let it go." But I will admit watching some of your movies helps. My memoru is going so "kablooey", can you refresh what you've said, or guide me to the page.

shadyac5 karma

When you are facing so many challenges, anger is an appropriate response. It's important to feel it, express it, but it's also important to release it when you are ready. How, you say? Place your attention on something else. On something you're still grateful for; for the breath that still enters your lungs, for the sunset. Holding on to anger creates a tension with what is. What you are experiencing now just is for this moment. It will not always be this way. That's important to hear: it won't always be this way. Can you accept that? Can you accept what is just for today? I send you much love in the midst of your difficulty. To your healing...

ericgmorgan2 karma

What are some beginning steps a family could take to re-tool and re-focus their lives and break out of the status quo?

shadyac2 karma

It's hard to be precise with your question as I don't know enough about you and your family, but a conversation is always a good place to start. Sit down and share with each other, in honesty, what is on your hearts, where you are being lead. The next step often reveals itself from there.

regibaby2 karma

Hey, Tom. So much in the world that needs to be changed, where to start? I have much respect for the changes that you went through yourself. I just closed my business and am looking for ways to contribute to the dialogue, and bring about the real change that needs to happen in this country and the world. Do you ever consider going back to making movies with a positive message of awareness and empowerment? I know that Mr. Carrey is a very aware person himself. Just a thought.

shadyac2 karma

As I just stated, I'm actually working on a film now. And Jim C and I are talking about working together again soon. Not free to discuss the details here, but it's a comedy with many of the themes we are both passionate about.

ruinevil2 karma

How is your family?

shadyac3 karma

Thanks for asking. My dad was featured in I AM, and he has since passed away. He was an incredibly generous man, and help found St. Jude Children's Hospital, a hospital which treats kids with cancer for free. My brother, Rick Shadyac, runs it now. It's an incredible place -- it's the business of the future. Love is the currency; they give their research away for free to the world. How beautiful is that?!

My mom was was my heart. She was in a wheel chair most of my life, and taught me so much about laughter in the face of trials. She passed about 14 years ago, but she's still very much alive in my smile.

lurknit1 karma

I'm proud to say Ace Ventura has shaped me into the goofy person I am today! Big fan of your work! And KUDOS for offering the book for FREE online! Definitely going to give it a read!

I'm also pursuing a career as a creative, and just wondering... I tend to consume myself with my work, how do you juggle passion/work with social and more enriching experiences?

shadyac3 karma

Those enriching social experiences are crucial for your work. An artist can only create from the depth of his own well. Go out, live your life, and deepen your well.