Frequently Asked Questions
You know you're famous when people you've never met say things about you that aren't true.
I frequently receive questions asking about every aspect of my life. To hopefully clarify a few things for those of you who have wondered...
The Spiritual Path:
For whatever Karmic reason, I have been involved with spirituality and mysticism my entire life. And, the evolution of human consciousness remains my primary focus. This predilection has led me to spent a lot of time in Asia and to have studied with some remarkable teachers.
My belief is that life is a spiritual journey -- everything you do leads you closer to Self-Realization. The more conscious your actions, the more rapid your path to enlightenment -- regardless of which religious faith or philosophy you follow. Ultimately, all true religions and philosophies teach a similar path: remain conscious, be pure of mind and heart, and do good things. I believe those simple actions are the true essence of the Spiritual Path.
We are all human beings, with the frailties of human existence. Spirituality is everywhere. Therefore, you do not have to live in a cave or a monastery to embrace a spiritual lifestyle. It is my hope to demonstrate, through my words and writings, that true spirituality can be found everywhere -- even in the mundane moments of everyday life.
So, do what you decide to do with your life -- hopefully you can have some fun. Just remember, do it consciously and view it as a pathway towards Spiritual Realization. For what does life truly mean if it is not to make this world a better place as you guide yourself and humanity towards a higher level of consciousness?
The Martial Arts:
Though it was never my intention, I have become very well-known in the world of the Martial Arts. This has occurred primarily due to the extensive amount of writing I have done on the subject. It is essential to understand, however, that I do not define myself as a Martial Artist. Though I have been formally involved in the Martial Arts since I was six years old -- the Martial Arts is something I do, it is not something I am.
Furthermore, I do not define myself by the Martial Art ranks I have earned. Though I am very thankful to the instructors and the organizations that have tested me and found me worthy of the rank they awarded me -- Martial Art rank has become so convoluted and such a sourcepoint for controversy, in this modern era, that I have long believed that it is a much more pure ideology to disavow rank rather than to claim it. And, this is my philosophy for everyone, not just me. I believe that it is fine to work towards a goal, achieve it, but then you should not become defined or harnessed by it. In other words, do not let your achievements feed your ego.
Like I say, "If you are referring to yourself as a master, that probably means that you are not."
Regarding My Films:
I was a reluctant participant... Growing up in Hollywood, California I continually saw the down side of the film industry. It took me many years before I finally gave into the continued offers I received to be in films. In the early stages of my career I was lucky enough to perform starring and co-starring roles in the then thriving action-adventure market, small roles in several A-films, guest star on numerous T.V. shows, and appear in commercials. As time went on, and my acting credits increased, I also received offers to Produce and Direct.
I do not believe that anyone who has not participated in the creation of a film can ever understand how truly complex and seemingly impossible the process of filmmaking is. None-the-less, I took on the challenge and have continued to create feature films, documentaries, and music videos.
My entire life, I've been an artist of one type or another. When filmmaking opportunities came my way, it was only natural for me to follow a path less traveled and not attempt to make, seen-it-all-before, feature films.
All of the films I have been creatively involved with have had ART as their central focus -- as abstract as that ART may be to some people. In all of my films I attempt to present the subject of the film in a new, unique, and different manner than it has been previously presented. The concept may be known but by presenting it in an uncharted format and story structure is what makes it ART. And yes, there is hidden meaning in the story, dialogue, and visuals of all of my films.
Remember, “What is a film critic? With very few exceptions it is someone who doesn’t have the talent or the dedication to actually make a movie.”
Some people wrongly define the films I make as B-Movies, Cult Films, or Indie Films. They are really missing the point. They are Zen Films.
As spirituality is the central focus of my life, I have attempted to bring the essence of Zen into my films; i.e.: following the path of least resistance, never relying upon formalized structure, and allowing the moment to be the only guiding factor. With this as the basis, I developed the concept of Zen Filmmaking as a means to allow spontaneous creativity to be the only guide on the path to film creation.
Many people have written, and I am told that it is taught in a few university courses on filmmaking, that Zen Filmmaking is the next step in the evolution of Cinema Verite' and Direct Cinema. This is not the case, however. When Donald G. Jackson and I made the first Zen Films we did not base our ideologies upon any previously defined style of filmmaking. It was a completely organic process.
It is essential to note that Zen Filmmaking is about philosophy; neither the subject matter of the film or the medium used in filming defines a Zen Film. A Zen Film is defined solely by the creative process which is used in its creation.
Art and Photography:
From my earliest memories onward, I was drawn to the arts. Though I tried to find my vision in painting it wasn't until I was in my early twenties that I found and developed my artistic style. At that point in time I met this female artist and asked her to show me her art. It was so free and natural. Immediately, I realized that art could be anything. It could be any color, any movement; anything within an image or lacking an image. From that point forward I continued my evolution of expressing my interpretation of forms and objects in an abstract, color dominate, manner.
In terms of my photography, I attempt to capture and harness the uniqueness of a particular object which will cause the viewer to be drawn into a photograph to the point that they want to deeply study its subtle complexities. As a young child, I found children's illustrations most interesting when stairways lead to multiple doorways or paintings made you question what was happening inside a house. I attempt to do that with my photographs -- make a person activate their creative mind and ponder the particular reality that has been captured within a photo. And, I love the hidden art that can be found in the mundane elements of modern society.
Since the dawning of the autofocus, digital age, photographs have become very pristine and perfectly in-focus. I think something has been lost with this evolution. In the days when film was all there was and you had to manually focus your camera, not only was there great depth-of-field but many a photograph was slightly out of focus. I like this. I embrace it. I think it gives rise to the artistic elements of photography. I believe it adds further dimension to drawing the viewer into questioning time, space, and reality. From this, unique personal realizations are born.
If you feel like it, you can check out some recent photographs at the The Scott Shaw Snapshot Gallery on Tumblr or some art and photographs at Scott Shaw Art on Flickr. Also, if you would like to view some art and photographs and possibly purchase a print or canvas, they are available at: Scott Shaw at Fine Art America or Scott Shaw Fine Art and Photography.
I sometimes receive e-mails asking me what type of music do I listen to. To answer, I have very eclectic tastes. I love Motown Soul and the Psychedelic Pop that came out of the 1960s and the modern bands who have drawn from those influences. Power Pop, Canto Pop, and J-Pop are Great. I like good Bluegrass and Alt Country. I love early Punk, New Wave, and Goth, as I was an active part of that era. I have been into Hip Hop since its inception. Industrial and Dark Wave are great. In terms of classical music I particularly appreciate the compositions of Claudio Monteverdi and Bach during his Italian period. Plus, I really love Dance Music.
Personally, I now create mostly Techno/Electronica, Trance, Ambient, Deep House, Noise, Psychedelic Jazz, and Soundtracks for films.
I have recently been receiving a lot of questions about my early years. To answer in brief: I was born in the Hollywood area of Los Angeles, California at a hospitable just off of Sunset Blvd. (Interestingly, Paramahansa Yogananada's Self Realization Fellowship was and is still located on the same block). My parents were successful career professionals, so they started a family late in their marriage. As such, I was an only child.
I spend my early years growing up in Southcentral Los Angeles, not far from where my father had grown up. This was an interesting indoctrination into life as I was literally the only Caucasian child in my grammar school at a time in U.S. history when racial tensions ran very high.
My father passed away when I was ten years old. At this point, my mother and I moved back to Hollywood for a period of time but then relocated to the area of Los Angeles now known as Koreatown. We remained there until I graduated from Virgil Junior High School in 1973. We then moved back to Hollywood, where I lived until I graduated from Hollywood High School in 1976.
Early in my youth I developed wanderlust; driven primarily by seeking out eastern spiritual teachers, spiritual centers, and spiritual experience. By the time I was an early teenager I would frequently travel to such places as San Francisco, Yosemite, Santa Cruz, Mexico, and Canada. Due to the complexities of the world today, it now seems curious, even to me, that at such a young age I was on the road. But, it was a different time in history. These early travels are a segment of my life that came to truly define who I was to become as an adult.
I live overlooking the Pacific Ocean. For fun I enjoy going to Antique Shops, Thrift Stores, Flea Markets, Estate Sales, and Swap Meets -- finding those unique pieces of cultural memorabilia that can only be had from such locations. I spend as much time in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Bangkok, and San Francisco as possible. I love Yosemite in the Spring and Sedona, Arizona in the cool Winter months. I love the Ocean, Rainy Days, the Wind, Coffee Houses, Italian Red Wine, and Eating in Cool Restaurants.
I want to thank everybody for all of their e-mails. I trust this will give you a bit more insight into who I am, how I think, and what is the focus of my life.