For those of you that follow me on Facebook and Instagram, you may have noticed that in the past year I have made 3 trips to the Middle East. Prior to these trips I have had the pleasure of meeting and building a relationship with the first family of firework, Fireworks by Grucci. To any Long Islander or even New Yorker, they know the Grucci name as Long Islands go to company for any fireworks display. Little did I know that the history of this six-generation family business from Bellport, NY is just 10 mins from my hometown of Patchogue, NY.
I first met CEO, Phil (Felix) Grucci when filming a promotional video for Patchogue’s Midnight on Main St.; an event that the Village of Patchogue runs on New Year's Eve where they have a 9 pm ball drop to ring in the New Year, followed by a grand illumination fireworks display by Grucci. Between takes, Phil mentioned that they may be attempting to take back a Guinness Book of World Record that his father had claimed in 1979 of the worlds largest aerial shell. Phil had asked if I would be interested in coming to the U.A.E. to document the behind the scenes of the build of this attempt? Of course, I had said yes but in the back of my head I was like, “ Ya like he is ever going to call little old me for this historic event”. Well, to my surprise about 9 months later I received an email from Phil’s assistant asking if I would be able to cover it from December 20, 2017 - January 3, 2018. I was torn if I should go; as it would mean being away for my fathers birthday, my god child’s 1st birthday, as well as missing Christmas and New Years Eve with my family and friends. After speaking to my family they understood and said, I needed to go and help document history.
What I thought I was being commissioned for was filming and photographing some behind the scenes of a big fireworks show. Well, I could not have been more wrong.
After the first day of filming an interview back home in Grucci’s Bellport studio, I realized I was taking part in a much more bigger event than a Guinness World Record attempt. In fact, the record was just a side story. I was documenting a man and his families lifelong dream come true. What I was contracted for was a few short videos that ended up being about a 45 min documentary that is still in final revisions.
Below you will find the initial promo video for Midnight on Main St., where I first met Phil, as well a 30 min version of the full documentary along with some behind the scenes stills. I would like to add that the display itself I could not cover as one person so additional footage was provided by Marketeers, the company that covered the broadcast. I was also not able to photograph the display itself so Phil’s daughter Lauren, who is also a photographer as well as Peter Alessandria, and Ihsan Salhia photographed the show itself as I focused on the behind the scenes.
Stay tuned in the months to follow as I will be blogging about the two other events I covered in the Middle East with Fireworks by Grucci.