Pyrotechnics and SFX

July 10, 2023 A Western AD/SM/PA Council Mentor Committee Event

On July 10, the Western AD/SM/PA Council’s Mentorship Committee hosted the discussion, Pyrotechnics and SFX. Held both online and in the Guild’s Los Angeles Boardroom, Mentor Committee Chair Sean Callahan moderated a conversation that covered the use of Pyrotechnics and SFX in non-scripted television with Council Chair Gary Natoli, Stage Manager Alissa Levinsohn Hoyo and Pyrotechnician Mikee Reinartz from J.E.M. F/X a leading company in the field.

Following a welcome from Natoli, Callahan spoke about the mission of the Mentor Committee. “The long-term goal is to establish mentorship relationships with ADs and SMs and PAs in addition to continuing education for all of our members,” said Callahan. “We're very lucky to start off with a little class on pyro. Tonight we all can take a moment and we can ask the questions that we don't always have time for on the set.”

After covering subjects like prep and when to say no to a requested pyro effect, Natoli spoke about the care taken in rehearsals and the pyro tests that go on during the process. “Part of that too is that the end of each test that we do during rehearsal, you're checking in with the talent, checking in with everybody that is on stage, if they're comfortable, if they have any issues. Even though we think it's safe they need to be comfortable.”

Levinsohn Hoyo spoke about how the job has changed as more and more FX are added to live productions. “It’s not like it used to be where there were days of prep and you had 10 performances that had an effect. Now that’s all changed so we do rely on [the effects team] for a lot of that and now they’re taking their cues and we’re there with them.”

Asked about knowing when to say no when a requested pyro effect is not feasible, practical or safe, Reinartz put things into perspective. “Pyro is just the icing on the cake. We’re the first to go on any show. You don’t need us to make the show. We’re a nice add. If they say it’s cut, I’m fine with that.”

After the moderated part of the discussion, the panelists engaged in a Q&A where they fielded questions from the audience. All attending DGA Members were encouraged to stay for the Western AD/SM/PA Council meeting that followed.

See videos from this event in the gallery below.

About the panelists:
Gary NatoliAssociate Director/Stage Manager Gary Natoli
Natoli’s Associate Director credits include Super Bowl Halftime Shows, Primetime Emmy Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, The Oscars, The Critics’ Choice Awards, Academy of Country Music Awards; and episodes of Big Brother. A DGA member since 1987, Natoli currently serves as the Western AD/SM/PA Council Chair and previously served terms as Council First Vice Chair, Second Vice Chair and Council Secretary-Treasurer.

Alissa HoyoStage Manager Alissa Hoyo
Hoyo’s Stage Manager credits include live specials such as iHeartRadio Music Awards, Oscars, Screen Actors Guild Awards, Grammy Awards, Critics’ Choice Awards, Golden Globe Awards, Primetime Emmy Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, BET Awards, Billboard Music Awards, Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, The Little Mermaid Live!, Aretha! A Grammy Celebration for the Queen of Soul, Live in Front of a Studio Audience: ‘All in the Family’ and ‘Good Times’ and episodes of That’s My Jam and Assembly Required. She has been a DGA member since 1994 and has served two terms as an alternate on the Western ADSMPA Council.


Sean CallahanStage Manager Sean Callahan (moderator)
Some of Callahan’s recent Stage Manager credits include Jo Koy: Live from the Los Angeles ForumJimmy Kimmel Live!, Instant Dream HomeThe 49th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards and The Cube. A DGA member since 2012, Callahan serves on the Western AD/SM/PA Council and previously served as Council Secretary-Treasurer from 2020-2022 He is the Chair of the Council's Mentor Committee. 

Mikee ReinartzMikee Reinartz
Reinartz is an FX Designer and Pyrotechnician whose credits include live productions such as America’s Got TalentThe VoiceDancing with the StarsThe Masked Singer, and various awards shows and live specials. He is the VP of J.E.M. F/X, a leading company in the field.

About the Council:

The Western AD/SM/PA Council is the elected body that represents the Guild members who reside in the Western region and work in television as Associate Directors, Stage Managers or Production Associates.

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