Interview with Team Feux d’artifice BEM

I met with Bernard Masson, proprietor of the family fireworks company, BEM, located at Coteau du Lac, just outside of Montreal and in the business for over 25 years. Participating for the third time in the competition, they were awarded the Bronze Jupiter at their last appearance in 2005 which was also the last participation of two other competitors this year.

Bernard explained with enthusiasm the story of the team’s theme – Eros and Psyche – a classical story from Greek mythology. Eros, the god of love, son of Aphrodite (the goddess of love) and an incarnation of cupid, marries Psyche. She finds her husband to be repulsive, but discovers that he is really Eros. Only after overcoming a series of ordeals imposed by the goddess Aphrodite can Eros and Psyche’s union be openly celebrated.

Bernard told me that it was with great pride that his company was representing Canada in the competition and said that having the World’s most prestigious competition on his doorstep is a unique opportunity. To compete in other locations, he explained, is logistically difficult due to requirements for transportation – some competitions only allowing products homologated in that country. With the Montreal competition, everything that is needed in terms of support and logistics is provided. However, logistics still present a challenge. The competition allows the use of un-homologated products in the displays but the lead time to obtain some of these can make it difficult since the invitation to compete was only received in November. Bernard noted that he was importing special shells from Gary Hansen’s Precocious Pyrotechnics in the United States, but found it difficult to have them transported to Montreal. In the end, the only solution was to drive them to Winnipeg first, and thence to Montreal.

In terms of products, Bernard said they had extensively researched the use of different manufacturers for use in their display and would be using large (six inch) calibre nautical shells from Luso (as well as other products) and high-quality Asian material from such manufacturers as San Tai. Bernard noted that extensive use would be made of ramps three and four and he had a very extensive selection of new cakes and large calibre fountains.

The musical research for the theme was carried out by Bernard’s son, Paul, who also did the programming of the display which will be composed of around 3200 cues using the FireOne system. A unique aspect of the display is the use of the local actor, Raymond Bouchard, for the narrative parts. Bernard explained that Raymond’s voice has the perfect characteristics for the performance.

Finally, Bernard exhorted the audience to come and witness an intense love story up close at La Ronde and that his company was looking forward to presenting a high-quality spectacle that the audience would enjoyed, irrespective of their placement or otherwise on the podium of the competition. The weather forecast looks perfect for the penultimate competitor in the 2011 season. Unfortunately I omitted to take my camera to the interview so there is no team picture this time.

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