THE FULL CREW
Meet the Artists – 2023
A wicked talent for harnessing the power of music in fireworks choreography has taken Scott from backyard shows to Sky Wars championships. Alongside his ‘Not My Show’ crew and his ‘secret weapon’ family, Scott’s ready to take on this year’s competition.
Scott Smith | Cedar Hill, Missouri
It was his uncle (the fun one that everyone has) who lit the fuse for Scott’s pyro journey.
He’d bring over all types of fireworks for 4th of July celebrations when Scott was young. Scott remembers one particular year where rain downpoured on the national holiday, resulting in his uncle leaving behind an entire bag of unspent fireworks – to the young pyro’s delight.
Scott’s love for pyro grew into hand-lighting a friends and family show that would gradually get bigger and more sophisticated every year. His story for joining MoPyro is wild – in September 2010, Scott happened to be walking outside a store near Springdale Park when he saw giant bursts fill the air. Noticing that this fireworks spectacle was larger than your average local show, he became determined to find out what the event was. That’s how he discovered the Missouri Pyrotechnics Association and eventually landed him participation at what is now Sky Wars. He’s been an active MoPyro member ever since. Thanks to what he’s learned from the club, he’s expanded his little family show into a full-blown pyromusical.
Scott’s secret weapon, hands down, is the support of his family. His wife and three kids (daughters Taylor & Erin and son Keller) all help, but his middle daughter Erin is his partner in all things pyro. She’d helped him wire shows as early as age 13, and at 15 she helped wire in the field at Sky Wars in 2014. “She doesn’t fit the mold of a standard pyrotechnic—most are older and male—but Erin is a huge contributor to my shows.”
The rest of his team—the “Not My Show” crew—have been together since 2014. “Without my crew donating so much of their time, this show doesn’t get off the ground. They all make it happen.” Scott says his crew is his extended family, and has been since they got together years ago. He says they contribute a LOT to his participation at Sky Wars and beyond. “We shoot several shows as a group each year. We love giving each other a hard time and just hanging out.”
Scott’s Favorite Pyro Memory
One of Scott’s first years attending Sky Wars motivated him to pursue shooting shows on a whole new level. He’d taken the PGI Shooter’s Course during the weekend, and on Saturday night when he witnessed a pyromusical set to Awolnation’s “Sail”, something clicked. Scott recalled it being “an instant turning point,” inspiring him to learn how to shoot a show of that caliber.
Scott’s Past Sky Wars Experience
2011 was Scott’s first year attending Sky Wars and he hasn’t missed a single one since. 2020 was his big year to date; the hard work of he and his 6-person crew was rewarded when his eight-minute pyromusical took first place in our Pro Am competition. Looking back, Scott imagined he’d be a lot more stressed than he was. He admits a feeling of “David versus Goliath” going up against Jim Preibe whose crew consisted of many KCAP club members.
Ultimately Scott’s win felt amazing to him and his team. He recalls returning to the attendee section shortly after his Pro Am display shot successfully and being hit with the realization that thousands of people just saw his show – something that hadn’t occurred to him while he was busy trying to impress the judges. “To see that crowd and know they’re there to watch what you’re doing… that’s pretty darn sweet and humbling.”
Scott on His 2023 Competitors
AJ Plata and Mike Allen are no strangers to Scott. The three competitors have been in contact for some time now, funnily enough…
Shortly after AJ was announced as a 2021 Pro Am participant, he contacted the previous year’s champ (none other than Scott) to bounce ideas off him. Scott recalls watching AJ’s show simulation and telling him “if you shoot it like that, no one’s going to beat you.” Lo and behold, AJ won! Fast forward another year and it’s Mike Allen’s time to step up to the Pro Am plate in 2022. Following in similar footsteps, Mike contacts AJ to get his advice as the previous year’s champion. Smart pyros think alike!
Now he, AJ and Mike regularly “give each other hell” in their group chat. Scott says they have a common ground: each wants to win because they shot their best show, but not because something went wrong with another show. “We all want everyone’s shows to go off well”.
Scott says this whole championship experience has been quite humbling. He jokes that the competition isn’t only about the fans; it’s just as much about “impressing the guys who’ve impressed you.” He can almost guarantee that if Sky Wars was “just us three competitors out there and no one else,” the quality of their shows would not be much different. “Pyros want to pyro.”
Scott’s Note on Music
Fireworks also happen to fuel Scott’s fascination for music. He aims to create shows that incorporate the right mix of tempos and genres so the fireworks emphasize the emotion of the song. “You have power over the crowd to influence their emotions. It’s one of the reasons why music is so important.”
Scott admits that selecting music for the battle at Sky Wars is a challenge; he wouldn’t want to use the same songs other pyros – both those in the audience and the judges of the competition – have heard a million times.
See Scott’s pyromusical talents yourself and enjoy his 2020 winning Pro Am competition piece: