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Come on Down

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Told through the eyes of a Canadian and his colourful Cadillac, Come on Down: Searching for the American Dream captures Adamm Liley's raucous road trip into the heart of the elusive American Dream.

Leonard Knight at home in Niland, California, 2003

Rest in Peace, Leonard Knight. (1931-2014)

Adamm Liley and Leonard Knight Niland, California

Chris Gardner

photo credit: Mike Tompkins

photo credit: Mike Tompkins

ATL at CFB Halifax

Come on Down: Searching for the American Dream

photo credit: Adamm Liley


Broken down in Peterborough, ON, Oct, 2007.

November 4, 2007
Hey all,
I'm saddened to report that the Cadillac is gone.
After 370,700 km, I'd say she's earned her rest. 
If you would like to see where she's gone, check out Car Heaven.

Be strong Mississippi Queen!

December 17, 2006
MQ's running strong.
She's running real smooth too, thanks to a pair of new U-joints.

sporting the new decals

January 21, 2006
Mississippi Queen (the Caddy) is fixed. At least, that's the hope. All it took was a new distributor, new fuel pump, new fuel filter and a fused fuel-line relay in the trunk.
Did I mention DVDs are for sale in the Shop?

Come on Down: Searching for the American Dream


Adamm Liley (photo credit: Mike Tompkins)

The Globe and Mail
FRIDAY, MAY 20, 2005 

If ever there was a time to be a couch potato...

Come on Down: Searching for the American Dream (tomorrow, CTV, 7pm.) is about Halifax-based filmmaker Adamm Liley's road trip through the United States in a car decked out with a maple leaf, asking people about "the American Dream". The result is a series of encounters with American grotesques. What Liley finds, usually, is a world anchored in greed, guns, and sex. It's a rather sour but interesting trip, right down to the end, which includes an interview with an addled, barely coherent Hunter S. Thompson, shortly before he died.

Globe and Mail
Travels in America
ANDREW RYAN June 23, 2007
Come on Down: Searching for the American Dream: Canadian filmmaker Adamm Liley takes viewers south of the border. Driving a Cadillac painted in Canadian flag colours, Liley hits virtually every U.S. state on his 25,000-kilometre road trip. The highlights include visiting with Hunter S. Thompson in Colorado and meeting The Price Is Right host Bob Barker in Los Angeles.

CKDU Radio
Kino Pravda
November 30, 2005
Listen to radio interview on CKDU with Come on Down producer, Steven James May, by clicking here.  It could take up to 10 minutes to load, so hang in there.

Toronto Star
Canadian filmmaker invades U.S.
Sep. 22, 2005

Come On Down, Sun., Sept. 25 at 10 p.m.; CTV Travel: Filmmaker Adamm Liley goes on a road trip in a Cadillac painted like the Canadian flag, straight into the absurd core of middle America. The 33-year-old Haligonian, raised on U.S. TV, meets lots of wackos on his mission to discover what people think of the American Dream.

Globe and Mail
The Armchair Traveller
W-FIVE: Come On Down
CTV, Saturday, May 21, 7 p.m.
This film is a clever cinéma-vérité diary from Canadian Adamm Liley, who undertook an extensive road trip south of the border last year.
Guiding his colourful Cadillac through state after state, Liley spent 49 days travelling throughout the U.S. In his dogged efforts to uncover the American Zeitgeist, Liley clocked more than 25,000 kilometres and crossed paths with several iconic figures, including original gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson (in one of his final interviews) and legendary game-show host Bob Barker, who graciously took time out from shooting The Price is Right for an interview with the young filmmaker.

Markham Economist & Sun
Joan Ransberry, Staff Writer
May 17, 2005


Producing a documentary that's set to air coast-to-coast on national television leaves a former Unionville man feeling very proud.

When Steven James May loaded his dog Glory (Gloria) into the car at his Unionville home and headed to Halifax in 1999 to begin an internship in documentary film production, the 24-year-old had no idea what the future would hold. The Unionville High School graduate had completed a four-year course in business administration at Trent University and a post graduate arts course at Ryerson University.

It didn't take long before Mr. May discovered he was on the right track; making documentary films was his niche. Soon after completing his internship, he launched production company Manifestation Television Inc.

Mr. May wrote, directed and produced The Never Mind (Nevermind) Year, a documentary about his attempt to outlive rocker Kurt Cobain, who committed suicide in 1994. It was aired by CBC.

"Kurt was into grunge music," Mr. May said. "It was all about me trying to live longer than my hero."

Soon after The Never Mind (Nevermind) Year was televised, Mr. May was approached by writer, director and actor Adamm Liley with an idea, which became Come On Down: Searching for the American Dream, a one-hour documentary to be aired by CTV. It will be shown on W5 Presents Saturday at 7 p.m.

"To have a documentary air across Canada on prime-time television is very exciting. It was nearly three years in the making, " Mr. May said from his parents' Unionville home.

Come on Down is told through the eyes of a Canadian who, as a child, was fascinated by the American-dream.

"The documentary captures Adamm Liley's raucous road trip into the heart of the elusive American Dream," Mr. May said.

When Mr. Liley was a kid, he loved America. He wanted to live the life he saw on American television.

"He wanted to eat meat, have white teeth, fight with the A-Team and spin that big old wheel on The Price is Right," Mr. May said.

The documentary shows Mr. Liley hitting the road in a Cadillac. It took the 33-year-old 49 days to drive 16,000 miles.

"Along the way, Adamm meets some interesting Americans, including Bob Barker, Hunter S. Thompson, a hooker with a plan to take over Howard Stern's job and a man who built a mountain dedicated to love," Mr. May said.

"Adamm's is a trip to remember."

Come On Down: Searching for the American Dream premiered at the 24th Atlantic Film Festival in Halifax and also screened at the 2004 Calgary International Film Festival.

The documentary was nominated in the Point of View category of the Golden Sheaf Awards at the 2005 Yorkton Short Film Festival in Saskatchewan.

Sounds like Canada
CBC Radio One
Shelagh Rogers
Monday, September 20, 2004
Click above to read about Adamm's conversation with Shelagh Rogers live on CBC Radio One.

The Herald


Monday, February 28, 2005
The Halifax Herald Limited

Driving down a Dream
IF YOU'RE GOING TO go on the road in search of the American dream, there's only one luxury ride that'll do the job.
Halifax filmmaker Adamm Liley knew he had hit the jackpot as soon as he saw a 1990 Cadillac.
But it wasn't complete for his purpose until his father supervised a paint job to put a Canadian flag-inspired motif onto the body.
The result can be seen Tuesday at 8 p.m., when ATV will broadcast Liley's documentary Come on Down: Searching for the American Dream. This television premiere is a special broadcast on ATV only with a national airing on CTV possible at a later date.
Liley grew up in Delaware, Ont., not far from the Ambassador Bridge link to the United States. He became enamoured with the version of America he absorbed through television.
"At the beginning of the film you see how I make the comparison that we're like The Littlest Hobo and they're like The A-Team," Liley said during a phone interview last week.
"I actually wanted to do, 'We are the game show Definition and they are the game show The Price is Right.' It would have been awesome, but you can't get stock footage of Definition."
Undeterred by that obstacle, Liley set off in the fall of 2003 on a 49-day, 25,000-kilometre odyssey through the land of the free, starting with a symbolic crossing at the Ambassador in his customized Caddy.
As an adult, Liley was bringing with him more sophisticated thoughts about what it means to cross that border and what people he might encounter down there.
"Why do Canadians get so sucked in to this grass-is-greener syndrome where we measure everything up against the Americans and we tend to have this attitude that we're not good enough? I thought it would make for an interesting point-of-view documentary."
As the attention-getting car rolls through big cities and small towns, the unassuming Liley just has to sit back as plenty of interested people approach him.
"I saw the car as a character itself where I wouldn't really have to seek out characters. Everybody in America wants to be on TV anyhow, but it was kind of like this bright light and the insects just came to it," he said.
"On the back, it used to say Looking for the American Dream. People would drive up to us at a stoplight or even going 100 miles an hour down the highway, and they would roll down their window either to take photos of it or to yell out that they were the American dream."
Interestingly, some Americans' perceptions of Canadians were also brought out by sightings of the car.
"Filling up with gas, I had people coming over seeing if they could buy Cuban cigars off me. And a lot of people wanted to buy dope, which is hilarious," Liley said.
Culled from 80 hours of footage, Come on Down: Searching for the American Dream premiered last fall at the 24th Atlantic Film Festival in Halifax and also screened at the 2004 Calgary International Film Festival.
While Liley had sketched out a short list of potential subjects for his itinerary, he says few of them made it into the completed film.
"I don't like to divulge this to everybody, but I didn't have that big of a plan. And I would never tell CTV that. But I knew in the end that I would find the gold on the road," he said.
One of those nuggets was found in Woody Creek, Colo., when, after three days of cajoling, Liley arranged an encounter with Hunter S. Thompson.
The rendezvous took place at the gonzo journalist's favourite bar, where he drank large glasses of Scotch and held court in his patented eccentric manner.
"By the end of it, he had really warmed up, to the point where I took him out and showed him the car and he commented: 'If I had known you had this car, I would have come the first night.' "
This segment in Liley's film has taken on a new resonance after Thompson committed suicide a week ago, and the filmmaker is reluctant to appear to be cashing in on the death.
"CTV wanted me to do an interview on the national news because I had done this session with him, and I kind of felt, he's only been dead for a day and he committed suicide. For me that felt wrong," Liley said.
"I wasn't shocked that he was dead. I was shocked, I guess, that it finally happened. The guy lived quite a fast and hard life, obviously. . . . The guy lived exactly the way he wrote."
In the end, Liley may not nail down exactly what constitutes the American dream, but he seems to have come to terms with our national neighbour.
"Nobody needs to see another America-bashing film. It's a refreshing change to see, whether people believe it or not, that it's not a scary place. It's an absolutely beautiful country. I lived the American dream by having the ability to drive a crazy car around America."
Not giving up on his game show analogy, Liley has a plan for a future project on the appeal of longtime Price is Right host Bob Barker, who makes a brief appearance in Come on Down.
"I'm actually hoping to pitch a documentary called The Church that Bob Built. And it's all about his followers."
As for the car, Liley still has it and it's still painted like the flag. He maintains the V-8 engine makes for good highway cruising, but it's not exactly slowing down global warming.
"The future of the car is kind of undetermined. It's such a good-running car that I don't really want to surrender it, but there's a few things starting to go a little bit."

The Coast
Scene and Heard
Feb 24-Mar 3, 2005

Liley’s dream
Notorious writer Hunter S. Thompson, the godfather of semi-autobiographical gonzo journalism and author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, reportedly shot and killed himself on Sunday night at his home in Colorado. While it’s purely coincidence, a new documentary with local ties is scheduled to air on our TV screens next week, and it features an appearance by Thompson himself.
Written and directed by local filmmaker Adamm Liley (of Trailer Park Boys, This Hour Has 22 Minutes and 2001 hockey documentary Tough Guys), Come on Down: Searching for the American Dream will see its world television premiere at 8pm, March 1 on ATV. The film’s initial debut was at the 24th Atlantic Film Festival last fall, and was also screened at the 2004 Calgary International Film Festival.
The story is about Liley’s road trip to the States in order to discover more about the American Dream. As the title indicates, one of Liley’s dreams was to spin the wheel on The Price is Right. You’ll have to watch in order to find out if he succeeds, but we can tell you that host Bob Barker makes a cameo in the film
-Jane of Arts
24th Atlantic Film Festival Guide
Adamm Liley's feature-length, non-fiction film about what it is to be American starts with the classic scenario carved out by Jack Kerouac in his legendary novel On the Road: A bunch of guys–in this case a bargain-basement film crew–cram into a cool car and simply drive.
From the capital in Washington to a deluxe whorehouse in Nevada, Liley's quest for the American Dream uncovers a country that is still wild and untamed, just in slightly different ways that we imagined. 

Armed with a camera and a custompainted Cadillac, 33-year-old Canadian, Adamm Liley ventures forth from his homeland in search of the much mythologized but ill-defined American dream.
From New York to Las Vegas, Washington to Texas, Liley uncovers every permutation of the "dream" one can imagine. Liley casts a wide net in his search; sharing their thoughts here are 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.
With cameos from Hunter S. Thompson and Bob Barker, Come on Down unveils a country that simultaneously meets and transcends the clichés that so often define it


Encore!  Cover Story, October 29, 2004
"Adamm Liley’s American dream comes to life in documentary film"
by Diana Rinne

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.


Click for CTV site

  • Sunday, Oct 31, 2010, 9am and 3pm ET. Travel + Escape.
  • Monday, Oct 25, 2010. 10pm ET. Travel + Escape.
  • Sunday, July 5, 2009. 1pm EDT. Check local listings. CTV.
  • Saturday, July 4, 2009. 1pm EDT. Travel + Escape.
  • Monday, June 29, 2009. 2am, 8am, and 2pm, EDT. Travel + Escape.
  • Sunday, June 28, 2009. 10pm, EDT. Travel + Escape.
  • Saturday, January 26, 2008. 3pm across Canada (3:30pm in NL). CTV.
  • Sunday, November 4, 2007. Various times in select provinces. CTV.
  • Thursday, June 21, 2007 at 2:00 PM (EST) Travel + Escape.
  • Saturday, June 23, 2007 at 12:00 PM (EST) Travel + Escape.
  • Sunday, June 24, 2007 at 7:00 PM (EST) Travel + Escape.
  • Monday, June 25, 2007 at 4:00 AM (EST) Travel + Escape.
  • February 22, 2007. 9pm. Travel + Escape (formerly CTV Travel).
  • September 26, 2005. 10pm. CTV Travel.
  •  July 23, 2005. 7pm. CTV National Broadcast (Canada)
  •  May 21, 2005. 7pm. CTV National Broadcast (Canada)
  •  March 1,2005. 8pm, AST. ATV. (World TV Premiere) 
  •  November 24, 2004. 7pm, AST. Oxford Theatre. Halifax. FREE! (Part of NSFDC Celebration of Nova Scotia Filmmakers Series)
  •  November 4, 2004. 7pm. Grand Prairie Regional College. Grand Prairie, Canada. (Proceeds to GPRC Theatre Heritage Project.) 
  •  September, 28, 2004. 9pm. Calgary International Film Festival. Calgary, Canada. (SOLD OUT ALBERTA PREMIERE).
  • September 22, 2004. 9:25pm. Atlantic Film Festival. Halifax, Canada. (SOLD OUT WORLD PREMIERE).

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