×

San Sebastian: Jon Long Talks About ‘The Search for Freedom’

Vet extreme sports director reflects on what drives extreme sports athletes in another Savage Cinema offering at San Sebastian

Jon Long’s passion and experience shooting action sports movies is far-reaching but the director went for something different when directing “The Search for Freedom.” The film is a documentary that doesn’t look at the sports so much as the people who came together to create the modern cultural phenomenon of action sports. Variety chatted to Long before “The Search For Freedom” world premiered at San Sebastian Sept. 23.

What was your experience prior to the documentary with these sports?

I made action sport movies on skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking and surfing throughout the nineties. In the late nineties, I made a movie for IMAX theaters called “Extreme” which featured all of these sports and became one of the most successful movies shot in IMAX at the time, grossing $27 million at the worldwide box office.

What was the shooting like?

The shooting was really fun. Unlike the days of shooting IMAX, our crew was small, so we were able to move quickly, be very flexible and creative. We would change the shooting objective for any given day if the flow of the situation led us to something different and more interesting. One example: We were shooting on the North Shore of Oahu and we heard that the surfing conditions were better on Maui, so we immediately drove to the airport, flew to Maui, rented a helicopter and within two hours we changed our plan entirely and were shooting the world champ stand up surfer on another island. It was an amazingly productive day as were many days on this shoot for the same reason.

Which sport was the hardest to shoot?

Big waves and big mountains are the hardest to shoot because so many conditions have to align in order to get those really standout shots. Weather, risk and safety all come in to play in a huge way and this is where you need to be making smart decisions. You can wait for weeks in the mountains for weather to clear before you can access peaks, and many times you’ll have perfect blue sky days, tons of fresh snow along with horrendous avalanche conditions.  So its balancing everything together, picking the right moments and working with great people that brings it all together.

The most fun?

The most fun sport to shoot for me is surfing because it is such an amazing art form, the imagery is so visceral and the interaction with waves and water is endlessly fascinating. And most of all, I like it because when you’re not shooting surfing, you’re surfing.

Do the mindsets of these athletes differ from the mindset of other professional athletes?

I don’t think so, but I’m sure everyone would have their own opinion. These athletes and doing what they love to do, they need to weigh risk with reward in order to sustain what they do, and if they want to be really good at what they do then they probably have to work very hard at it in most cases. But like Warren Miller says in the movie “If you love what you do, it ain’t work, it’s fun!”

More Film

  • US actor Kevin Spacey (C) is

    Kevin Spacey Shouldn't Be Exonerated in Hollywood Even as Criminal Case Ends (Column)

    The news that criminal charges against Kevin Spacey in the Nantucket groping case have been dropped raises an inevitable question: does this mean he can claw his way back into Hollywood’s good graces? Or maybe more importantly: should it?  Spacey’s rapid descent was startling, even as it quickly followed that of the once untouchable producing [...]

  • Movie Ticket Subscriptions

    As MoviePass Fades, Theaters Fall In Love With Subscription Services

    MoviePass may be cratering, but movie theater subscriptions are here to stay. AMC and Cinemark already operate their own online ticketing services. And by the end of July, Regal Entertainment is expected to unveil a subscription plan for customers accustomed to getting all manner of entertainment for a monthly fee. With ticket sales down more [...]

  • This photo shows composer Hans Zimmer

    Hans Zimmer on Recreating Iconic Score: 'The Lion King' 'Brought People Together'

    Composer Hans Zimmer is seated at the mixing board at the Sony scoring stage, head bobbing to the music being performed by 107 musicians just a few yards away. He’s wearing a vintage “Lion King World Tour” T-shirt, frayed at the collar. On the giant screen behind the orchestra, two lions are bounding across the [...]

  • Lion King merchandise

    'The Lion King': Disney Targets Nostalgic Adults With High-End Merchandise

    Does Nala wear lipstick? Probably not, but “Lion King” fans can celebrate the release of the live-action remake with a new line of makeup that’s part of a whole pride of other items themed to Disney’s live action redo. For about $40, the Can’t Wait to Be Queen eyeshadow palette by Luminess Cosmetics includes shades [...]

  • 'Cats' Movie Trailer: Watch Taylor Swift,

    'Cats' Trailer Drops: Watch Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson in Movie Musical

    Universal has released the first trailer for its film adaptation of the Broadway play, “Cats,” starring Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson and James Corden. Based on the book “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” by T.S. Eliot, the musical follows the Jellicle cats, a family of felines who go before the group’s leader Old Deuteronomy to [...]

  • Yvonne StrahovskiCritics' Choice Awards, Arrivals, Los

    'Handmaid's Tale's' Yvonne Strahovski Joins Chris Pratt in 'Ghost Draft' (EXCLUSIVE)

    “The Handmaid’s Tale” star Yvonne Strahovski is in negotiations to join Chris Pratt in Skydance’s sci-fi pic “Ghost Draft,” sources tell Variety. “Lego Batman’s” Chris McKay is attached to direct. “Ghost Draft,” written by Zach Dean, is about a man drafted to fight in a future war where the fate of humanity relies on his [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content