The buzz over Jordan Heads has been building for the last four years. The documentary on people who play Pookie to the latest Jordan Brand release has just one more scene left to shoot, says Calvan Fowler, the flick’s director and producer.
For that last scene, Fowler needs your help.
On August 23, Fowler and his crew will be outside the United Center in Chicago, shooting the final scene of Jordan Heads (see flier at bottom). In that last scene, Fowler wants to amass as many Jordan enthusiasts as possible at the MJ statue in front of the United Center, to hold their J’s up in the air and show love for their sneakers. The day serves a doubly important role for everyone who makes it out to Mike’s house, as Fowler wants to set a Guinness world record as well.
I talked with the 33-year-old Fowler this week about what he has planned at the United Center and the making of his documentary. Check it out.
SLAM: Tell me about this last scene. What do you have planned?
Calvan Fowler: It’s pretty much a gathering of Jordan heads from all across the land coming together at the United Centre at the Michael Jordan statue, chanting ‘Michael’ with their Air Jordans in the air. Pretty much, this is a thing where it’s an opportunity for Jordan heads to meet each other and just be one in that moment at the house that Michael built.
SLAM: Did you pick the 23rd as a tribute to Jordan?
CF: Actually, it was ironic that it was the 23rd. It was supposed to be the 10th, but we found out the United Center was being used that day. They suggested the 23rd and it just kind of rang a bell like ‘The 23rd, why didn’t I think of that?’ It was so weird, but it worked out.
SLAM: How many people are you expecting there?
CF: I have no idea. I’m getting emails from far and wide. Some people will say they’ll go and then not show up and then there will be people who won’t say anything and then will show up. Who knows? I have no idea.
SLAM: And you’re trying to set a Guinness world record?
CF: That’s the plan. It’s a record that’s going to be created. It’ll be: a multitude of people with Air Jordans in the same place at the same time. That’s pretty much it (laughs). That’s the record.
SLAM: How long has the filmmaking process taken? What’s the process been like?
CF: Four long years. It’s been ups and downs. I would say my lowest point was trying to get Nike involved and that really didn’t come to fruition. The highest point I think was getting Michael Rapaport, the executive producer involved and him making things happen. I guess I’d say all in all it’s a journey, it’s an experience. The good and the bad you’ve got to take both. I definitely went over that mountain. I’m still going over that mountain; I’ve still got post-production to do (laughs). It’s still a lot to do, but I think it’s going to be easier from this point.
SLAM: Did you learn things about Air Jordans that you thought you’d never know in doing this?
CF: Definitely. I was never able to look at people’s Jordans before and realize they were fakes. I can spot fakes a mile away now. Kids were showing me all different types of fakes out there. Not only that, I know numbers 1 through 23 now. I mean, I kind of knew they were different from each other but now I can say which number they all are. I never thought I could do that before. On top of that, I’ve become a Jordan head. I’ve always been one without the sneakers, but now I’ve been buying them.
SLAM: What’s your collection like?
CF: I’ve been buying pretty much all of the count down packs, which has been allowing me to get all of the Jordans. I’ve also bought the titanium XX3 that came out. I got number nine. How crazy is that? I went all the way out to LA to shoot and I ended up online and I got the friggin’ ninth pair off the line. How crazy is that? I’m not selling them.
SLAM: What convinced you do to the movie?
CF: I used to work in a Puma store and I noticed in the Puma store that there were a lot of people walking with Air Jordans on and I was like, wow. I was asking people—random people—why do you have them, what is it about them and they started telling me random varied stories and I realized this could be a documentary.
SLAM: Are you surprised at the longevity of Jordan Brand?
CF: That’s one of the questions I asked people in the documentary and they all have various answers. I think the one answer is his legacy has been transitioned to his sneakers. He was that much of a player, such a great player that people want them so bad that they’re still buying the sneakers, no matter how they look. Good or bad, they don’t care, they’re going to buy these sneakers because they still want Michael. That’s it.
SLAM: Do you have a release date set for the film?
CF: I would say soon, pretty soon.
SLAM: What kind of release will it be? Will it be in theatres?
CF: I would hope it’d be a theatre release. I’m looking to do the major film festivals. Sundance, Tribeca, all those major markets. I’ve been approached by distributors, so who knows, it might not even get the chance to go to film festivals. I might sell it before it gets the chance to go there. I’d rather it gets to the film festivals, though, so it can really get the word out and get the big buzz.
SLAM: Do you have a favorite pair of Jordans?
CF: I have two favorites. The 11’s and the infrared 6’s. I missed out on the Defining Moments Pack because I was shooting and I didn’t get online to buy them.
SLAM: You mentioned that there’s no Nike involvement with the film. What happened there?
CF: There’s no official Nike involvement. It’s never too late for anything though. I’m not going to keep trying, but I think if they were to get involved, I’d lose creative integrity when it comes to what people say. If people want to see a film where they can be honest and truthful about the product while still being a fan, then this is your movie.
SLAM: Were you always a sneakerhead?
CF: I’ve worn sneakers from Day One. My first most expensive sneakers were the Air Max 1’s in red and grey and my mother paid 75 dollars for them. That was a lot back then. I wore those for maybe two grades back-to-back.
I rode them so hard the bubble popped. Even when the bubble popped, I kept wearing them, I tried to redesign them, I drew ink on them, even before people were redesigning sneakers, I redesigned mine because I had them for so long.
The reason I get Jordans now is that I couldn’t get them as a kid. They were really too expensive. Now I’m getting them because they’re retroing them and I’m like I need these. This is really a part of your youth and I really understand now why adults buy them. I truly understand that. And I understand why kids buy them as well, because it’s a passed down legacy.
SLAM: What’s been the toughest part of filming?
CF: Finding money. This (money spent for this film) has been my own money since Day One. It’s a rough looking film. It’s not polished, it’s not National Geographic, Discovery Channel, it’s a gritty looking film. It’s not going to look like anything fancy. It’s going to be a little bit grimy. From Beverly Hills, to the hood of Bed-Stuy, you’re going to see people from all ethnicities and socio-economic (backgrounds).
SLAM: What’s your take on people camping out for their sneakers?
CF: I think certain people are driven by certain things. MJ was driven to be the best at whatever he did and a lot of people are driven to get these sneakers and they’ll do whatever it takes. I’ve heard various stories—you’re going to hear stories in this film about people doing certain things that you know, some people will frown upon. Camping out, I’m not going to frown upon it, because some people are doing some worse things than camping out. (Laughs). Like really, some other various means and methods.
I haven’t done it (camped out). I’ve had to do it because of being out there with these kids. But it’s not only kids, I’ve got adults out there. I’ve got mothers out there for their kids because they didn’t want their kids out there. I’ve got fathers, grandparents out there for their kids because they couldn’t get out for it. It’s serious.