Wanting to Fly: Director Matthew Morden Writes About Documenting the Art of Human Suspension

Director Matthew Morden‘s film, Wanting to Fly, is screening at the 2021 Melbourne Documentary Film Festival. This fascinating film follow Neil, a man who is seeking to engage with his first experience of human suspension. Matthew takes viewers into the human suspension community, answering the question on most viewers minds: why would someone wish to suspend themselves from their body?

Matthew writes about Wanting to Fly below.

I first came across human suspension at a party.

A friend told me about this organisation called Piercing HQ and suggested that I contact them to film a documentary. I contacted Piercing HQ and they said they knew someone who was about to do it for the first time. I thought that would be great to follow a personal journey. 

In this film we meet Neil and follow his journey through his first attempt at human suspension. It was a great opportunity to interview Neil a day before his first suspension and to give the audience an insight into the thoughts and emotions someone goes through before doing their first suspension. I believe the audience can relate to Neil because like them he doesn’t really know what’s going to happen when he suspends. 

In addition, we gain exclusive access to the suspension community in Melbourne, Australia and identify what leads people to perform suspension. The documentary covers mental health and community belonging. When I started filming, I thought a lot of people did suspension for that adrenaline rush. It became very clear from the beginning that a lot of people undertake suspension because of mental health reasons. You get a strong sense that everyone supports everyone in the community especially those being suspended. There can be a lot of tears, hugs and a sense of trauma with some of the people who suspend.

As a film maker I want to make films that can reach out to the wider audience. 

People ask me all the time, “why did I do a documentary about suspension?” The reason I did this film is that I’m scared of needles, and I knew that by filming this I would be challenged. This documentary highlights not only the physical aspects of human suspension but also why people decide to do this to their bodies. My biggest challenge was to edit a film that wasn’t too uncomfortable to the audience. I wanted the audience to be comfortable with learning about this community, but I didn’t want to push the line too far so that people were uncomfortable. 

Another question that people would ask me was ‘would I ever do suspension?’ and ‘you can’t do a film about suspension unless you try it’.

Firstly, Piercing HQ doesn’t allow you to just be suspended, there is a process that you must take part in to prepare you to suspend. But also, I wanted to follow someone else’s journey to discover what makes them participate in suspension. 

I hope this film demonstrates why some people what to suspend and helps educate people about suspension and this community. For many different reasons, whether right or wrong, some people decide to do things to their body that not everyone would like to do. But it is the sense of belonging and community that I believe is something we could all reflect on within the communities we live in today. 

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