Photo by Annie Jeong
Tom Shadyac, filmmaker-in-residence at the Center for Entertainment, Media and Culture at Pepperdine’s Seaver College, is hosting a five-week Convocation series that began yesterday and ends Oct. 24. The five-week convocation series will be held every Wednesday from 6 to 9 p.m. in Elkins.
“We are going to have a lot of fun. This is not your grandmother’s Convocation!” Shadyac said.
The lectures, affectionately dubbed “Tomvos,” will focus on finding your faith through the film and art industry. Shadyac, an acclaimed film director, producer, writer, comedian and professor, will focus on specific faith themes and how to communicate Truth in significant but unexpected ways. He will be bringing in artists, actors and industry people to discuss faith themes in media. Past speakers have included Morgan Freeman, Courtney Cox and Jonah Nolan. Rather than dazzle students with high profile speakers, Shadyac wants to bring in celebrities with an ideology that supports his faith theme.
As a Hollywood filmmaker, Shadyac has the ability to mold the minds of millions of people. For this reason, he urges students hoping to work in the entertainment industry to take responsibility for what they put into the world. The energy you put into making a film really matters. For Shadyac, faith and occupation are not mutually exclusive.
“I don’t consider what I do and who I am and what I believe mutually exclusive,” Shadyac said. “I don’t separate those things. I think that’s one of the poisons of our culture.”
When compared to other Convocations, the Tomvos are somewhat unconventional. In a 400-seat auditorium, students will have the opportunity to be a part of the dialogue by asking questions or making comments. “In this class, you get to reevaluate what life is about,” said graduate student Hayden Christensen.
The filmmaker’s usual classroom was not available this semester due to scheduling conflicts and Shadyac saw this setback as an opportunity to experiment with a larger classroom setting. Although hesitant at first, Shadyac agreed to give the larger setting a try.
“I want as many students as possible to just have this information – do with it whatever you want.… And, to have a real conversation sometimes you have to shake people from the foundations of what they believe right now,” Shadyac said. As with a smaller class size, Shadyac desires to get to know the students. “Every time I have engaged in a dialogue with the students, I walk away more hopeful.”
Shadyac wants students to understand how much of the stress they feel in their life is an illusion. He wants this Convocation series to be the beginning of freedom from that stress. The underlying message that Shadyac hopes to communicate to students is: “I want them to each play their own individual note in the choir of life.… all I want for the students is for them to be their own unique conduits for God’s spirit to walk in the world. That’s all I want.” In his eyes, the most important story someone is going to tell is with their life.
Seeing how many students attend and how well they embrace the series will determine if Shadyac will continue in a larger classroom setting. “If it is successful, let’s rock this boat every semester!”
There will be limited seating and only one credit will be awarded per Convocation session. For more information on this Convocation series, call ext. 4999 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.