Fireball Tim defines himself as Hollywood’s secret design weapon. He conceptualized vehicles, weapons, spaceships, costumes, props and completely unique environments for Hollywood’s biggest films and television show. And he has been doing this for such a long time, crowning a life-long dream. Fireball Tim has created vehicles and sets for more than 360 projects on popular films like Gone in 60 Seconds (Nicolas Cage & Angelina Jolie), Pitch Black, Starship Troopers (starship vehicles), X-Men, Austin Powers, Starsky and Hutch (the Striped Tomato) & the last Green Hornet. Tim is also the designer behind the most successful TV CAR shows of the last 20 years, including Monster Garage, Extreme Rides, World Most Expensive Rides on Discovery Channel and the new Hollywood Garage, an online series which includes 15 garages, each one of them with its own particular show. To prepare for our GANZO interview he admits to drinking several cups of Caffe’ Lavazza, eating gelato and italian chocolate, his favorites. His motto is on fire like him: All you need is love for cars!
Why the name? “One time, when I was a kid, I got in serious trouble. Me and a friend of mine, we liked to blow things up. Small things. One day we found an old train car and we decided to light it up on fire to see what it looked like, without knowing it was full of barrels of gasoline. The explosion was incredible; all the people in the San Fernando Valley knew what happened! So my parents started to call me Fireball Tim, the name stuck and growing up I found a way to legalize it and my new career started from there!”.
How did you became the guru of custom cars? “I was born in Southern California, from a Hollywood family, my parents are, respectively, a writer and a producer. There were 2 things my parents always gave me as a child, die-cast cars and art supplies. And if you put those two together its design, automotive design, expressions of our inner passions. My parents worked in tv movies, so I saw how cars were used in films. But it wasn’t until college that I learned how to apply that to the movie industry. Since then I did more than 360 design for films, we built thousands of cars and so many different vehicles. And still moving with the passion for it”.
Why you love your job? “I’m currently 46, I hope! But in my heart, I’m still 11, I still get to play with cars everyday, I’m living a life of bliss. Is going from concept to completion, to go from an idea inside my mind, from my hand to a piece of paper, to the shop guys where they put it together, they finish it, we take it to the set, they film it and when the movie comes out everyone in the world gets to enjoy it. Priceless”.
Growing up, what were your source of inspiration? “When I was young I was inspired by futurism, a very good friend of mine is Syd Mead – www.sydmead.com - the genius behind all the great design for science-fiction films such as Blade Runner, Aliens, and Tron. Later I discovered Luigi Colani – www.colani.ch – the biodynamic designer who worked for Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Volkswagen, and BMW. His design is so organic, so visionary. He is applying this designs to all vehicles, boats, planes, clothing, he is a very expressive designer, he does not limit itself in any way. Sometimes I’m limited by budget, but there are ways to achieve things even with time and money constraints, but on paper your imagination is the limit… Colani is the Santa Claus for cars”.
Can you tell us some of your coolest projects? “I’m proud of Knight Riders the tv show, the Batmobile in the first Batman, Gone in 60 Seconds, Fast and Furious franchise, Austin Powers and the Striped Tomato in Starsky and Hutch. We spend a lot of time building and then on the set an accident happens and the car get crushed! And this breaks my heart!”.
Do you have a secret dream car? “I would like to have 1984 Ferrari 288 GTO. But I own some Ducati, so my Italian dream is covered”.
What is the passion that wakes you up in the morning? “What I do, is not just a business, with my team we live for a culture, a lifestyle. A culture is something you share, you share with content, online, live events, entertainment, most businesses they just provide a service and then move on… For us is different. Is not just about collecting a check, even if we need to! We give a lot back to charities, like Make-A-Wish Foundation. We want to expand people awareness, feels good to think that you can achieve anything, you can apply to what you are most passionate about”.
What’s next? “Some tv shows, including the Hollywood Garage. We worked on all the last great movies, Iron Man 3, Mission Impossible 4, Thor, Captain America… Fireball Tim is a brand we sell at Walmart, including Hollywood Garage, little die-cast cars, clothing, green products for cars. We are aware of the environment”.
Last question? Where do you get your favorite italian chocolate? “You have to go to Rome, is a little shop in Via Del Corso, close to the spanish steps… Ask my friend Luciano Bove – http://www.lucianobove.blogspot.com – great car designer, is on Facebook”.