Director Jeff Tremaine and Executive Producer Mat Hoffman chronicle story of amateur parachute jumper who attempted to break world free-fall record in the ‘60s
A new installment in ESPN Films’ critically-acclaimed 30 for 30 documentary series, “Angry Sky,” will premiere on Thursday, July 30, at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN. Jackass director Jeff Tremaine chronicles the story of Nick Piantanida, a truck driver and exotic pet dealer from New Jersey who dedicated his life to setting an extreme parachuting record.
In 1965, with no formal training, no college degree, and barely enough money to support his wife and three young children, Piantanida set out to take a high-altitude balloon to the edge of space and jump out. If he succeeded, he’d set a world record in a free fall back to earth for nearly 17 minutes. At the height of the space race, Piantanida would launch the first civilian space program. His young wife, Janice, would stand by him as he risked his life and their livelihood to achieve a dream that had become an obsession. A force of nature, Piantanida’s willpower, charisma and delusions of grandeur would get him into space and make him a true American hero, but lead him to a tragic end.
Tremaine, who also directed 30 for 30 “The Birth of Big Air” for ESPN Films in 2010, says “I’ve told stories about guys like Mat Hoffman, Johnny Knoxville and Evel Knievel, and Nick fit right into that gang. Even though his story is tragic, his unwavering commitment to do exactly what he believed in is inspiring to me.”
“Angry Sky,” which made its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival in April, is the final installment in the Volume II collection of ESPN Films’ 30 for 30 series. It was announced in May that Volume III will launch this fall. Watch a clip: http://es.pn/1CyOyMJ
“When you look at what Nick Piantanida was doing half a century ago, it’s one of those remarkable stories that you can’t quite believe actually happened,” says ESPN Films Vice President and Executive Producer John Dahl. “Ever since we launched 30 for 30 in 2009, we’ve sought a diverse range of topics, approaches and filmmakers, and ‘Angry Sky’ certainly fits right into that vision for the series.”
Added Executive Producer Mat Hoffman: “After I read ‘Magnificent Failure,’ the book that inspired ‘Angry Sky,’ I thought this is the greatest story never told and we had to tell it. Nick Piantanida is a great example that nothing is impossible. He proves, ‘if there is a will, there’s a way.’ You just have to go for it.”
Review copies of “Angry Sky” are available upon request and additional information including film clips and director statements and bios will be available on the 30 for 30 website espn.com/30for30. Follow 30 for 30 on Facebook (facebook.com/espn30for30) and Twitter (@30for30).
About ESPN Films
Created in March 2008, ESPN Films produces high-quality films showcasing some of the most compelling stories in sports. In October 2009, ESPN Films launched its signature 30 for 30 film series, which has since won a Peabody Award, Producer’s Guild Award and an Emmy Award. Inspired by ESPN’s 30th Anniversary, the films that made up the series were a thoughtful and innovative reflection on the past three decades told through the lens of diverse and interesting sports fans and social commentators. The strong reaction from both critics and fans led to the launch of 30 for 30 Volume II, which is currently underway. Additional projects from ESPN Films include the critically-acclaimed Nine for IX series, SEC Storied and the Webby Award- and Emmy Award-winning 30 for 30 Shorts.