I met with Gary Caimano, designer of Western Enterprises’s second display in Montreal. As a debutante back in 2010, Gary had informed me then that he had never seen any displays in Montreal, not even on video. He repeated the same statement to me today, except that he said he saw Sugyp’s entry this past Saturday. Gary said he wanted to ensure the display would be purely his, with no outside influences.
I asked him what he had learned from his previous participation, which had not gone quite to plan, largely because of heavy thunderstorms on the day of the display leading to some firing issues. Gary said, that, for a start, the display would be much more intense, with twice as many firing modules as previously, together with a much more dramatic opening.
Gary then dived into his storyboard of the show. He explained that the team had put the music together in January and then he started on the storyboard at the beginning of February, and finished mid-April, working on it full-time. It’s a massive 3-ring binder containing around 1000 (one thousand) hand-drawn pages. Each page shows the location of all the positions on each of the ramps being used – so there are 19 on ramp 3, 17 on ramp 4, 5 on ramps 1, 2 as well as 5 floating pontoons forming ramp 5. However, each of these is larger than normal, due to the amount of products being used.
Western Enterprises is an active manufacturer of fireworks in the United States, operating under the Skyworks brand. Gary came up with many special effects that he wanted in the display and sent many orders to his production team to come up with what he needed. All of the one-shots used are Skyworks brand, as are many of the shells, giving a total of about 70% Western-produced content. The rest is from China, with Vulcan being the one manufacturer Gary mentioned. A large portion of the show is focused around 6″ shells, with 10″ (250mm) being the largest calibre used, due to transportation issues in the US (where 300mm shells are classified as 1.1, though, in Canada, even 200mm (8″) shells are classified thus). Western are using the PyroSeq firing system with twice as many modules (to be revealed in the display report) as their previous show.
Gary passionately talked about his design process and how he wanted to get the audience up and dancing. It was by far the longest interview of anyone I’ve spoken with in the competition, especially as Gary went enthusiastically through his storyboard. Gary said the most difficult piece of music he has every choreographed is piece number 7 in the display, Reflection of Earth played by the London Symphony Orchestra. Then he said the most difficult piece was piece number 12, Sweet Victory by Randy Edelman. He then said another piece, approximately 8 minutes later into the display was the hardest! This was because each successive piece was done after the preceding one, the level of difficulty increasing each time – especially as the soundtrack was designed to have thematic breaks every 8 minutes! The display is actually over 32 minutes long, dictated to by the music and the design.
When asked how he would invite the audience to come to La Ronde, Gary said “I want them to dance with a chorus of hallelujah and joy and enjoy the colours of life”.