‘Behind the Boom’ featured in this year’s Omaha Film Festival

A Norfolk filmmaker made waves at the Omaha Film Festival on just how much goes into a pyrotechnical production.
Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 6:56 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Don Wisnieski has spent the past 30 years in the fireworks business.

“Started as a very young kid of the farm, that was our big event for the year. Moved to Norfolk, and I had the opportunity to get involved with the JEC’s that were doing the fireworks show in Norfolk at the time.”

The group, now named Big, Bang, Boom puts on the nationally known fireworks show, Boom Fest. The event started as a way to celebrate the bi-centennial of the U.S.

“This is our 47th year so it’s a really great tradition in Norfolk so it’s been going on a long time,” says Wisnieski. “Started on a $1,500 budget. We do well more than that per minute now.”

Their success prompted Don to reach out to Brittnay Dawson.

Dawson has been doing media-marketing production for 20 years. Around five years ago, she took a stronger interest in storytelling. Originally from Wausa, Neb., she’s now based out of Miami.

“I worked in Norfolk and did a lot of marketing for the community when I was there, so I have a strong connection to the people in the community there as well,” says Dawson. “I can totally picture how we can present this in such a way that would be not just powerful to the people who are connected to the Norfolk area, really to anybody that has a love for pyrotechnics, and fireworks and the Fourth of July.”

This is Dawson’s first-ever full-length documentary, and she’s a one-woman team.

“This film became so much bigger than any of us anticipated that we didn’t have the budget set for it, I didn’t have the crew available for it. So it was kind of one of those things that I had to just dive in and really learn the process. But I love the fact that my hands were involved in so much of the creative process that I’d feel like this film is a really deep connection of what I have to Norfolk and to festivals, something that I grew up with. So I was passionate in making sure that I told a really good story.”

They’re hoping audiences will understand how the project represents more than just a fireworks festival.

“The exciting thing that I’ve seen about the whole documentary was being able to show their community and our area really what goes into this and that we’re so dedicated to continue this tradition,” says Wisnieski.

“As I learn the story of the work and the passion this team has put into it, they’ve only got so many more years before they’re ready to step out and let the next people step in and I think you need those people to be aware of a process of something powerful that they too can build their own legacy through,” says Dawson.

Behind the Boom debuted Sunday on the final day of the Omaha Film Festival.

Those we spoke to involved with the film say they’re currently working on how they’re going to make the film publicly available.