Category Archives: PassFire

PASSFIRE – THE SERIES

Back in 2016, we were fortunate enough to have a visit to the showroom of Jesse and Jeremy Veverka who were in the process of creating a documentary film about fireworks around the World, the culture behind fireworks and the people in the industry.

The film once released was met with great reviews and was lauded as ‘the finest and most interesting movie ever made about fireworks and the people who’s lives are moulded by them’.

PassFire T-Shirt #EpicFireworks

Since the success of the film venture, Jesse and Jeremy and Hannah Basciano (assistant Producer) went on to create PASSFIRE – THE SERIES in 2017 and they are already travelling once again to make a second series. The Veverka brothers worked in countries across Asia including China, Japan, Korea and Indonesia before going into the production of Passfire and the continent holds a very special place in their affections.

Rocket Line, Greece #PassFire

Basically, if it is pyro related, anywhere in the World, they have been there; from the beautifully picturesque island of Malta for the mechanised firework festival (aka Nar Ta L’art) to Japan to see first hand the magical crafting of the best and some would be forgiven for saying the most expensive shells in the world today. They were in Mexico for the highly dangerous ‘Burning of the Bulls’ to the little island of Chios for the famous ‘rocket wars’ or Rouketopolemos where teams fire rockets from one church to the other to ring the bell of the opposing place of worship.

They have filmed across six continents interviewing everyone from the retail outlets to the professional display teams to get a full spectrum of input.

#PassFire #Malta #Shells

One of the most fascinating was a little closer to home for these American born producers as they attended the meeting of the FPAG (Florida Pyrotechnic Art Guild). This group of firework enthusiasts have adopted many of the riskier sides to the pyro business (not that much of it can be called ‘safe’ but you get the drift); The Mascaletta from Valencia (mascaletta are pure noise created by titanium salutes which sound like rounds of gunfire), girondola (huge flying horizontal wheel), huge Maltese shells and the Castillo which are massive towers with lancework on them high in the air which have girondola at the centre.

Most recently, they have just been filming the first night of the Philippines International Pyrotechnic Competition over at the S M Mall of Asia.

We cannot wait to see the next instalment of this series.

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FIREWORKS. UNIQUE AND POWERFUL

In a recent interview, one pyrotechnician from India is quoted as having said:

They say that to be a pyro-technician or pyro-master, you need 5 things:

The talent of an artist
The hand of a sculptor
The heart of a poet
The eye of a painter
And the courage of a warrior

Never has a truer statement been made.

PassFire T-Shirt #EpicFireworks

Fireworks are unique in the fact that across the globe, there are families who have passed down generation after generation the skills, secrets and recipes for that perfectly clean, beautifully bright firework burst. People in the industry, particularly manufacturers and professional firers, have this unmitigated love affair with this humble artistry.

Star Roller #PassFire Visit Spain

There are still established ‘pyro-families’ who still dominate the world of display fireworks today, including the likes of Grucci, Zambelli, Rozzi, Foti and Vitale to name but a few. Firework production is one of the oldest art forms in the World, which has developed constantly over the centuries from its humble beginnings where gunpowder was accidentally created just outside the City of Liuyang, China to the ‘super displays’ for New Year celebrations in cities like London and Sydney, Australia.

Jesse On Production Passfire

Back in 2013, Epic Fireworks was invited to sponsor a film about the fireworks culture across the globe. We were of course honoured to be included and grabbed the opportunity to gain a better understanding of fireworks and how they touch the lives of millions of people annually. The Passfire team has tried to visit all of the worlds continents, except Antarctica (for obvious reasons) to understand what fireworks mean to the people who watch them, those who make them and the professionals who handle them daily. Most recently, they returned from a trip to Africa, where although it is the second biggest continent in the World, little was known about fireworks.

Salutes #PassFire Visit Spain

So, their journey took in South Africa, Kenya and the Republic of the Congo. The fireworks industry is still in it infancy in Africa and the amount of disposable income, even in business circles, is limited so this naturally lessens the amount of money available for shows. The ‘professional shows’ over in Africa are smaller (due to funding) quieter than the rest of the World (thanks to their incredible tough noise pollution rules) and are generally hand-fired, rather than electronically fired because of cost. They even struggle to get goods in for sale, due to problems encountered with shipping, border controls and transport in and out of Africa. This is the reason one of the companies took the decision to manufacture their own. This year, the team from Fireworks for South Africa competed in Da Nang, Vietnam and whilst they didn’t win on this occasion, they were certainly a force to be reckoned with thanks to some beautiful use of colour.

The Passfire Film will be completed late this year and hopefully released shortly thereafter.

There are of course, many others who use gunpowder or pyrotechnics as an art medium, like Cai Guo-Qiang, internationally acclaimed artist. His works include smaller works featuring explosions which literally scorch images onto canvass like his ‘Bikini & offering of flowers’ all the way up to huge outdoor creations including daytime fireworks as used for his ‘Remembrance – Chapter 2 of Elegy’. Whilst his work is not to everyone’s taste aesthetically, there is no doubt that Mr Guo Qiang has indeed got at least 3 of those 5 ‘essentials to being a pyromaster’ in the bag.

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Pyrotechnics Guild International 2015

WHAT: Pyrotechnics Guild International 2015
WHEN: Sunday 9th to Friday 14th August 2015
WHY: It’s a pyrotechnics convention
THEME: “Wyoming Fireworks Showdown”
WHERE: Cam-Plex Multi Event Facility, Gillette, Wyoming
COST: TBA

The guild was founded in 1969 by Max P Van der Horck who wanted to encourage the display of both public and private display fireworks to the masses. He also wanted the industry to remove the shroud of secrecy it is surrounded by and share the knowledge to those in power, like the political elite and the general public alike so that the use of fireworks was not lost forever. They need to ensure that safety is a priority and that the gathered energies of so many like-minded people actually get a voice and allow creativity to flow providing ideas and suggestions by the bucket load.

If you check back over time, it is surprising how often fireworks have been used around the globe but essentially, since the Americas were discovered, there have always been displays for one reason or another.

The guild has around 3500 members who range from the hobbyist all the way up to the hard-core technicians and everyone learns from one another.

The event is an opportunity for attendees to visit workshops and seminars on construction of pyrotechnics for everything from a little garden fountain all they way up to a huge 24 inch shell creation. There are classes for attendees to be certified as professional firers – the USA’s Display Operators Course DOC is equivalent to our BPA British Pyrotechnic Association certification. Safety briefings, how to make fireworks more environmentally friendly and everything in between.

There will be four display nights which are as follows:

Sunday 9th August 2015 Zambelli Fireworks Display and Passfire (a firework documentary from Jeremy and Jesse Veverka).

Tuesday 11th August 2015 Pyro FX Display and Casabella Fireworks.

Wednesday 12th August 2015 Hollywood Pyrotechnics.

Friday 14th August 2015 All Star Showcase – this is a composite display featuring cross company products.

Finale – To Be Announced.

Because this event appeals to a wide range of people from the young lad wanting to learn more for his chemistry test to the consummate professionals like the Zambellis, who are to fireworks what the Kennedy’s were to the US’s political history, there is something for everyone. During the writing of this blog, I had to check into some details about the Zambelli’s and checking out their photo gallery is awesome. They (as in one or other of the family members over the last century or so!) have met and in many cases fired for the last 9 presidents including as mentioned the Kennedy’s both Bush senior and junior, the Carters, the Reagan’s, the Pope, the Prime Minister and most of the heads of state across the world.

As there is entertainment on throughout for the children young and old alike, you need to be aware that absolutely NO outside food is permitted on the site due to the huge number of concessions about.

So, if you are connected to fireworks, whether in the industry as a firer or a retailer, this is just the ticket with days packed to the rafters with pyro. Collectors can pick up some unique ephemera and if you can’t resist getting involved (we know … a couple of days and you have to touch some!) there are lots of ‘volunteer’ opportunities as they set up mega strings of firecrackers (last event more than 3 million!) as ‘firing crew’ for one or other of the teams showcasing their abilities.

Previous visitors have said that this is a must do experience for anyone connected with pyro and it is a truly family orientated event. The organisers will even arrange accommodation for you and the family in a camper van (think Winnebago/Walter White rather than VW Camper/Scooby Doo).

Here’s a cool video below from the Grand Public Display shot by Wolverine Fireworks Display, Inc. at the 2014 Pyrotechnics Guild International held in Mason City, IA.

Wolverine PGI Grand Public Display 2014 from Veverka Bros. Productions on Vimeo.

We will naturally bring you images as soon as they are available and in the meantime have a boomtiful day.

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