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Come On Down: In Search Of The American Dream


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Old article, showing tonight on CTV.


Adamm Liley’s American dream comes to life in documentary film

Diana Rinne

For Encore!

Grande Prairie will have the chance to take slightly different look at the United States next week when Adamm Liley’s new documentary film Come On Down: In Search of the American Dream is screened at the Grande Prairie Regional College Theatre, Nov. 4.

“It stems from my childhood fascination of being a border child and falling in love with everything American,” explained Liley who grew up in Delaware, Ont., explained in a phone interview last week.

“We were raised in the country so we just had three channel ‘peasant vision’. But on warm, sunny days we’d be able to get NBC and all of a sudden we’d be like “That’s not the Littlest Hobo!”” he laughed. “Everything seemed a lot more glamorous and glitzy.”

A former Grande Prairie resident with family connections still in the Swan City, Liley graduated from Confederation College in Thunder Bay five years ago and has been actively working in the film and television industry in Halifax since that time.

Currently director of photography for the hit Canadian television series The Trailer Park Boys, he is also doing some work for This Hour Has 22 Minutes. The concept for the Come On Down really began to take shape in 2001 when Liley worked on another documentary film, Tough Guys, which followed a group of Canadian hockey players on a tour through the U.S.

“We basically woke up in a new city every day and all of a sudden you started to see this America that wasn’t all shiny. It was like, wait a minute this isn’t Disneyland everywhere. I started to question what is the American dream and why we are so quick to fall in love with it. It’s like the grass is always greener syndrome,” he explained.

Liley continued to develop the concept for the film, bringing it all together last year when he, his brother Walter and cinematographer Warren Jefferies set out on a seven-week journey across the U.S. in a Cadillac painted like the Canadian flag.

“Walter was the glue that kept the trip together,” he said of his Grande Prairian sibling who served as production assistant/mechanic/driver/navigator. “It was like being on a rock tour with these three tall guys in this Cadillac with all the gear in it. Walter and I slept in the same hotel bed numerous nights - we haven’t slept together that much since we were kids,” he laughed.

As they travelled across the U.S. Liley said he found that Americans really aren’t that much different than Canadians.

“It was amazing, the response that we got,” he said. “We tend to paint Americans with one brush. The film turns out to be kind of a celebration. You get to see this face of America that you never really get to see. People are people.”

He continued, “I feel sympathetic towards them because they’re being painted one way because of the actions of their leaders and the big corporations that kind of rule the world.

“Much to my surprise, I went there and I didn’t get shot in seven weeks. I didn’t get robbed or beaten up. I actually had people wanting us to stay at their house.”

Liley said he found much more than what he set out to find. “It turned out better I think,” he chuckled. “Every time you go into a documentary you always have a sense that you’ll find gold. I got a lot better than that.”

Those sharing their thoughts in the film include an African-American Wall Street mogul, a Nevada brothel operator, the residents of a commune, Nashville music hopefuls, the homeless, the wealthy and a nudist.

But did Adamm Liley find his American dream?

“My American dream was to go down there and spin the big wheel on the Price is Right. I don’t necessarily succeed at it, but I get there. It’s kind of a metaphor for the fact that there isn’t one American dream,” he explained, adding Bob Barker and Hunter S. Thompson do make cameo appearances in the film.

Liley noted he never set out to make an academic study on what is good or bad in America, but rather took “a one point of view” approach to the documentary.

“One character says you always hear about the American dream, but you never hear about the Canadian dream or the British dream,” he explained. “Somebody is out there selling America but the image that they’re selling isn’t the image they should be selling. We tend to get one perspective through the media and through the actions of the government - you know the big evil empire,” he said.

“We tend to think we are so much superior, and I still believe we are. The premise of the film comes down to there is no place like home, which defeats the whole grass is greener thing.”

Finished just in time for the Atlantic Film Festival in Halifax, Come On Down has been very well received so far, selling out in Halifax as well as at the Calgary Film Festival.

The film will also be airing on CTV sometime in the next year. “It’s kind of a shorter, speedier version,” says Liley. “The filmmaker will always elect for the longer version so it’s kind of disappointing but the essence is all there.”

Liley is also currently developing a hockey documentary for CTV and the National Film Board called Heads Up. “It’s going to follow a group of hockey players through their non-contact into their contact leagues. Sort of how it’s that rite of passage and how some kids fade away while others seem to make it through that stage,” he explained.

Come On Down: In Search of the American Dream will screen at the GPRC theatre, Nov. 4 starting at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10, or $8 for students and are available in advance at the Advancement office or at the door. Proceeds from the screening will go towards the Theatre Heritage Project.

They're previewing it now on CTV, and it's going to be showed really soon. Apparently, off camera he said that a lot of people would come up and ask for Cuban cigars and pot. Some other people were actually telling him to go back to Canada if he wanted to find the American dream. :blink: Including a Canadian that married a southrener and wanted to go back home so bad.

It's playing on CTV, albeit cut short as stated, it's playing tonight at 8AM... I can't tell whether that's Eastern or Atlantic though. Here's hoping t gets on DVD.

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