Nelson filmmakers Jon Long

Nelson filmmakers Jon Long

Nelson filmmaker immerses himself in the moment with extreme documentary

The Search for Freedom is a social documentary the explores human condition through action sports.


Nelson filmmaker Jon Long considers his latest extreme sports documentary The Search for Freedom a social, cultural documentary about the catharsis that can be found in immersive activities.

“I’m creating this for a mainstream audience, but it tells the history of action sports,” he said. “It’s about that human impulse to explore freedom, and what we discover is what that means for a lot of people is being immersed in the moment, basically being in a state or doing an activity where you’re completely focused on what you’re doing—no past, no future, complete focus.”

And that doesn’t exclusively involve hanging from your BMX handlebars in mid-air or hurtling down a mountainside as a base jumper.

“In this film action sports is the metaphor and the subject matter, but it could happen with anything—playing music, gardening, or absolutely anything. And that’s what comes out in the film.”

Long said he sought after visually compelling examples of humans who take things to the limit.

“This is a very visual and beautiful way to showcase that idea and convey that message,” he said. In the trailer for the 92-minute film, bikini-clad surfers and snow-covered ski-jumpers share the screen with mountain bikers hurtling down remote mountains and skateboarders kick-flipping.

“I started making action sport movies in the late 80s, early 90s. It kind of culminated with a movie called Extreme which was made for Imax. That played around the world and when I moved to Nelson a few years later I came up with the concept to do this,” he said.

Long started working on the project about a decade ago, but it was only more recently that he teamed up with co-producer Mike Parenteau and associate producer Laura Zeman (above).

“We worked for a year and a half to create the movie, the three of us as a core team, and we finished it about six months ago.”

And though it’s been touring in the U.S., the upcoming premiere at 7:30 p.m. on August 6 at the Civic Theatre will be its Canadian debut.

Zeman said she started out with a simple role, but it expanded as the process went on. She ultimately acted as the music supervisor and developed a soundtrack that is now available on iTunes. She believes the film will have a positive impact on viewers’ lives.

“We’ve refined this message the whole way through—it’s a philosophy of pursuing your passion and being in the moment. It’s living without fear, or living with fear but letting that fear serve you well by doing what makes you feel the most alive.”

The film involved multiple local artists, including creative consultant Bill Heath, executive producer Bruce Ramsay, composers Sam Welsh, Dan Brock and Gilles Parenteau, musician Rhoneil. Sherpas Cinema and Freeride Entertainment provided additional footage.

The trailer for The Search for Freedom is available here.

For more information visit thesearchforfreedom.com, civictheatre.ca or visit The Search for Freedom on Facebook.