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THE SEARCH FOR FREEDOM is the story of a cultural revolution fueled by the human desire to live in the moment and do what makes you feel the most alive. We discover how an electrifying new world came about through pure energy and imagination and the infinite possibilities of self-expression available to anyone willing to drop in. This documentary, written and directed by Jon Long (IMAX® Extreme), is a visceral, visual experience told through the eyes some of the brightest pioneers, legends, visionaries and champions of surfing, snowboarding, skiing, skateboarding, mountain biking and more.

This revolution has been televised, but the film explores the human stories behind this movement that has spilled into primetime. Ski film Godfather Warren Miller explains that, “The basic instinct of a human being is his search for freedom.” The film explores how living in the moment and doing what makes you feel most alive can be key to that freedom. On the surface, The Search for Freedom might appear to be about sports, or chasing thrills, but it is about so much more. It’s about feeling that pull of nature and wanting to go deeper into that element, that ocean.

Many claim that the freedom experienced when you are riding a moving wave, becoming part of that wave for an instant, is impossible to shake. It’s a state of grace. And it’s the same whether you’re sliding on snow, skateboarding on concrete, or mountain biking through a rainforest.

Veteran surf publisher Steve Pezman taps into the source: “The wave is forming in front of you, the wave is over your head, your wake is disappearing, your footprints are washed from the beach. There’s no material production from having done it. There’s no depletion. There’s no creation. It’s just an aesthetic instant.” That aesthetic instant is the real subject of The Search for Freedom.


When I first conceived the movie, it was to tell a story about a cultural phenomenon. The action sports movement came from humble beginnings and has become a way of life for so many. This is a real story of the action sports revolution and some of the people who fueled it with verve, imagination and courage.

I hadn’t initially planned on pursuing the theme of freedom in this film until I had already interviewed dozens of people. The concept of freedom kept coming up again and again with so many of them that I wanted to look deeper into what that really meant.

People talk about freedom in many ways; relationships, borders, politics, finances, electronic devices… But one thing that seems to be constant is that the pursuit of freedom is tied inextricably to the pursuit of happiness. They’re two sides of the same coin. This film is about the freedom that comes when you become completely immersed in the moment, when all of your focus and energy is fully directed to that place and time.

I wanted the participants to tell the story without a narrator. No one sport or character “takes over”; they each inform each other’s development. It’s a continuum. It’s this larger whole that all of these people are a part of. It’s a community.

I really wanted to try and create an immersive, visceral experience, where the audience can actually inhabit those magical moments like gliding along a glassy green wave, even if they’ve never tried any of these sports.


For over 20 years, Jon has specialized in financing, creating and distributing film and television. He has produced, written and directed several films and television programs for companies such as Universal Studios, IMAX, Disney, Universal, Entertainment One National Geographic and PBS.  His passion is the creative process and realizing the goal of making films that entertain, inspire and engage audiences. “I believe that film has the power to have a positive social impact and I seek out stories, collaborators and partners who share a vision to create meaningful entertainment and connect with large and diverse audiences.” Jon recently founded The Earth Network to create and distribute integrated media projects and films. He is creating a multi-media project and feature length film called The Skool Project (about a paradigm shift in education, where community engagement, creativity and compassion are valued as much as academic achievement. He’s also creating an integrated media project and film called FLOW, which will tell a compelling human story and explore how we can find our maximum personal creativity, learning and performance through a daily practice that involves play and fun. Many of his projects include ongoing educational components, which have included organization such as Outward Bound, PBS, World Wildlife Fund and others.

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