Air screenwriter Alex Convery and editor William Goldenberg represented the film at Deadline’s Contenders Film: Los Angeles. The film tells the story of how Nike signed then-rookie Michael Jordan to the sneaker line that became Air Jordan. Even though Air Jordan is one of the most famous brands in the world, Convery said it remained suspenseful because Nike executive Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon) became such a strong character.
“If you can get the audience to care about the character, they’re going to forget that they know the ending,” Convery said. “Argo was similar. Titanic, you know how that’s going to end but you care about Jack and Rose.”
Goldenberg said the script laid a lot of the groundwork for making the Jordan-adjacent story suspenseful. To make it so, he and director Ben Affleck simply tightened up the events of the plot.
“In pacing it, the more I worked on it, the more Ben and I worked on it, we wanted to make it a ticking clock,” Goldenberg said. “Sonny wanted to beat Adidas and Converse and be the first to sign Jordan. The pace being more upcut and really quick lent itself to this film. The more I did it, adding all these things, gave it its own pace as well.”
Convery wrote Air on spec because he grew up in Chicago in the ‘90s when Jordan was already reigning with the Bulls. Convery said he was inspired to tell Vaccaro’s story by seeing a brief clip of him in the documentary The Last Dance.
“His connection to the Jordan deal, I thought that’s your character, the ultimate underdog,” Convery said. “Sonny was ultimately cut out of recognition for this deal. I just felt it was important to tell his story, the relationship he had with Michael, Deloris [Jordan, Michael’s mother] and the family.”
After Air, Convery is writing another true story.
“It’s another basketball movie,” Convery said. “Similar material but more of a straightforward sports movie. It’s a true story so I can’t talk about all of the components yet. I’m into the script now. Hopefully, it’ll turn out well.”
Air is now streaming on Prime Video.
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