Q&A Meet the Team – Darryl Fleming

By 7th July 2014News

Each month we will feature a member of the Titanium team, we’ve given some hints about each team member on our “meet the team” page. This is a chance to find out more in our Meet the Team blog posts.

This Month: Darryl Fleming

Darryl can trace his firework heritage back to 1986. As a trained surveyor Darryl’s feet are firmly on the ground but he is happiest when he is creating designs on or around iconic structures such as the Olympic Stadium, Big Ben and most recently The London Eye. Few would argue that Darryl continues to be a major influence in firework display design in the UK with a long list of credits to his name.

Favorite career moment to date 

Pushing the button when HM the Queen declared the London 2012 Olympic Games open and the 20 second pyrotechnic sequence chased around the stadium signalling the successful culmination of 10 months of planning and preparation. It just got better and better after that.

What do you most enjoy about your Job

The events industry is very diverse and fireworks are no different. No show is the same even when firing at the same venue. The best thing about what I do is the many places I have visited and worked at, often giving me unparalleled access that members of the public never normally get to visit. From climbing up the leg of the London Eye and standing on the crow’s nest of the hub, fixing pyrotechnics to Big Ben or Tower Bridge, firing from the monorail in front of the Atlantis Palm in Dubai or getting the best seat in the house stood on the gantry above the royal box for the Olympic and Paralympic Ceremonies. One thing is guaranteed that this job is far from boring or predictable.

What aspect of your job do you least enjoy

The worst bit for me is the last hour or so prior to the show, especially on the larger more high profile displays like London’s New Year’s Eve which has a live audience of over 250,000 and a broadcast audience of over 13 million, and the firing time is strictly defined with no flexibility. During the set up I have relied on a very experienced and competent crew who undertake their roles and responsibilities so that we are ready to fire on time. The last hour waiting for show time can be excruciating with so many external factors which can affect the display, least of all the wind. The responsibility is very intense and there is really only one head on the block if it does not go according to plan. A blank screen on BBC 1 at midnight is not an option, a mistake on this level can be very public and everyone will know instantly that I have had a bad day at the office. As soon as the first thud of the lift from the first shell fires, the fear and anxiety disappear and are replaced with exhilaration and a huge surge of adrenalin.

Favorite Project to have worked on:

It would have to be the London 2012 Olympic Ceremonies; it does not get any bigger than the Olympic Games. The pressure is immense but when you get it right, so is the pay off. The best thing about working on this project was the fact that there were four ceremonies to deliver, with an opening and closing ceremony for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The best ceremony for me was the Olympic Closing, with the opening behind me the pressure was slightly lifted and the ability to relax and enjoy the show was easier. Overall the Olympics offered some amazing and unique opportunities, least of all the privilege to design and choreograph a live show with such names as The Arctic Monkey’s, Queen, The Who and Coldplay. It really was a once in a lifetime experience with some challenges which I have learnt a huge amount from and the memories will live on for many years to come.

Favorite photo from the Titanium Firework Portfolio:

The moment that you know it is all working and I can relax a little, this image is taken exactly one second after midnight 2014, on the first bong of Big Ben, the fireworks erupt from all the inner and outer positions of the London Eye with barrages of shells firing from the three barges moored in the River Thames. This image for me symbolizes far more than just another photograph of a firework display which I have designed, it is the culmination of a lifetimes work to be given the opportunity and trust to deliver a prestigious display such as the capital’s new year celebrations.

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How would your colleagues describe working with you?

I wish his dictionary included the phrase – “sorry that just isn’t possible”

What is one thing you absolutely will check off your “bucket” list:

I would like to complete my private pilot’s license. Flying was my first obsession and the experience of flying solo is one that is both liberating and exciting. I have flown solo in a glider many years ago, but I would like to achieve my PPL so that I can renew my early passion. 

If you could go any where in the world where would you go and why: 

South Africa, visit Cape Town again and travel the garden route. I have only been to South Africa once for my honeymoon and we only stayed in Cape Town for 3 days, then a Safari and finally a beach holiday. Three days was just too short, we have promised each other that we will go back to again and spend the entire two weeks in South Africa.

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Rigging fireworks on the Arcelor Mittal Orbit, Olympic Park

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Creating firing scripts for London New Year’s Eve 2014

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One of my proudest moments, Rio’s handover section of the London 2012 Closing Ceremony