Since 2015, Red Apple Fireworks® has focused on creating the biggest, baddest fireworks shows on the West Coast, and it's all thanks to this guy: PyroJim.
We sat down with PyroJim before the 2019 Fireworks Festival in Pahrump so the #Pyrosquad can get to know the man who brings on ALL the booms every year for Red Apple®.
Jim, a native of Anaheim, California, says that it was watching Disney Land's fireworks show as a child that first made him fall in love with fireworks. He quickly grew to love the science behind fireworks - the chemistry and understanding involved in mixing the powders, pressing them, and altering them to do different things.
"It's the coolest," he says. "And, like any other little boy, it made me feel a sense of power."
Though there is no formal pyrotechnic school, Jim tells us that some companies will offer training courses, although it is strictly based on who you know and showing that you are able to endure long hours of setting up and lifting heavy objects.
"If you prove yourself and shed a couple drops of blood and sweat, they keep calling you and you get to be an independent contractor and work for multiple companies!" Jim says genially.
Having blown things up professionally for the last fourteen years, Jim has worked with a steady stream of artists, performers, venues, and more.
"Aside from fireworks, there is the special-effects side," Jim explains when asked what his other professional work entails. "These are also known as stage effects that usually consist of smoke effects, flames, confetti, Co2 effects, and stage pyrotechnics that are used in the shows and tours I do with lots of artists, from Britney Spears to Iron Maiden to Lady Gaga."
Game of Thrones fountain show at the Bellagio 2019
EDC pyrotechnics show 2018
Iron Maiden concert 2016
Imagine Dragons concert 2018
Jim says that his favorite artist to work with currently is Lady Gaga. "She has lots of talent and lots of creativity in her shows that even surprises me and just makes her show very fun!"
He tells us that he rarely gets the chance to meet the artists he works with, but sometimes the artists will seek him out after the show to tell him how awesome his pyrotechnics were and how much they liked them. "Or," he says, "how you royally effed up!"
Many people ask Jim if he's ever been injured while on the job, but he reassures us that he's never been seriously hurt. He says the worst he's dealt with are "small burns from sparks or flammable fluid making your skin itchy; something dropping on your foot and splinters are the worst!"
The best part of creating a fireworks show, according to Jim, is "spending hours or months of scripting and rewatching your creation on a computer and then loading the show file into your firing board and wiring everything up, hitting the fire button and seeing it fire right in front of you. Seeing it go from computer to the night sky is a rewarding feeling and the applause from the audience always gives me the chills!"
Furthermore, Jim enjoys building shows around his favorite fireworks, effects, and colors. Though he says there are currently too many types of fireworks he enjoys to choose from, his top picks right now are Nishiki Kumuro effects, Italian Stutata shells, ghost shells, and Farfalle shells. His favorite effect is the crossette, and he loves playing with the combination of purple, green, and blue colors in his shows.
New, exciting effects and colors from Red Apple® is the main reason Jim loves creating the fireworks demo every year. "Doug has been awesome listening to my ideas of what colors or effects to bring in and he delivers...from neon colors to cherry blossoms and the new RAW® collection!"
What are PyroJim's favorite kinds of shows to create? "Anything from the stage," he says. "Anything that explodes in the night sky!"
When he's not imagining or planning for intense new shows, Jim enjoys cooking and barbecuing with friends and family. He also likes to hike, fish, play the drums, and snack while he binge-watches TV (because even professional pyros need to stay caught up on GoT).