Daniel Flannery is an American artist and storyteller, conceptualist, producer, director, scenographer, director of photography and lighting designer. Flannery has created award-winning visual, aural, theatrical and media productions around the world. He is regarded as a Visual Maestro and recognized for being a visionary and pioneer of emerging entertainment experiences and technology.
Flannery was born and raised in New York. He was educated in the art of scenography for the theatre and cinematography and he practiced his craft in N.Y.C. for nearly a decade. Eventually he relocated to Hollywood and achieved award-winning status as a Director of Photography in television and cinema. He is credited with introducing theatrical lighting to network television sitcoms.
In 1980 Flannery founded a Los Angeles based scenographic design firm supporting clients such as Disney Imagineering, Universal Creative and international projects for performing arts centers, world expos and world events. His concepts and designs for theme-parks set an industry standard.
In the 1990s Flannery’s work evolved to include producing and directing in diverse forms of entertainment. His signature creations are Symphantasy®, grand stage spectaculars in Asia, World Expo attractions and 3-D stereoscopic dome experiences.
In the course of his illustrious career Flannery:
- helped redefine artistic segments for Olympic ceremonies
- created the first Star Wars Concert and subsequently conceived a new performance genre, “visual Symphonies”
- was a core team designer on the creation of Australia’s largest and world renown Melbourne Arts Centre (aka the Victorian Arts Centre)
- is one of the first American artists invited to create stage spectaculars in China
- revolutionized the look of American network television sitcoms
- created the number one attraction for two world expos
- was a conceptualist and designer for the creation of Universal Studios Florida Theme Park
- is an innovator of volumetric 3-D stereoscopic films
- is a pioneer of emerging entertainment experiences and technology.
The Illusion Show was a grand opera scale live production show in Changzhou, China. Flannery was commissioned to produce and direct this show incorporating 3D stereoscopic scenography as a featured element of the show. The stage and house were wrapped with LED walls upon which 3D stereoscopic CGI completed the scenography. The audience wore active 3D glasses and the effect was true immersion. The production featured an international cast of 100 performers.
Flannery produced and directed Xayron in Budapest, a science fiction production show with some of Hungary’s finest actors, dancers and a fire breathing dragon, robotic warriors, flying creatures, spiders, illusions and a lagoon onstage.
Overseas Chinese Town Limited engaged Flannery to create a western style production show. The show was ‘E’ Elements Show. The production featured a variety of dancers, acrobats, synchronized swimmers, singers, musicians, magicians, and puppets. The show ran for five years at the Huaxia Art Centre in Shenzhen, China.
Flannery collaborated with Oscar Winner, Production Designer Eugenio Zanetti. Together they created Movistar Magica which toured throughout Colombia. The tour kicked off with a live broadcast on network television from Bogotá, Columbia. The show was presented in parks and stadiums, featuring 500 performers on a stage that filled a football field.
Maryland celebrated the anniversary of their statehood with Voyage 350. The Department of Tourism for the City of Baltimore commissioned Flannery to produce a theatrical experience on Rash Field at the Inner Harbor for this celebration. Flannery and his team created an immersive experience that ran for two years. It included a food and beverage area that consisted of facades based on Maryland’s early architecture. The main attraction was an original theatrical production presented in a 1200 seat theatre, inspired by tall ships. The show was designed and directed by Flannery. It featured actors portraying the ship’s crew with historical paintings and photographs from the Peale Museum projected onto the sails and theatrical illusions.
3D Stereoscopic Cinema
Majid and the Secret of Life is a 3D stereoscopic film presented several times a day in the Dana Dome, a purpose-built theatre at Kahramaa Awareness Centre (a edutainment centre on sustainability in Doha Qatar). Conceived, produced and directed by Flannery the film, created in 3D CGI, explores the origins of water on our planet through a young boy’s dream journey.
Cave Temples of Dunhuang
As Chief Creative Officer of R+S Production Services, Flannery over saw the Cave Temples of Dunhuang Exhibition at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, CA. It was a virtual immersive experience. Large panoramic photo realistic CGI projections of the Mogao site, Cave No. 45. Visitors use 3-D glasses to view stereoscopic images of the 8th century cave paintings and sculptures.
In 1977 Flannery was commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and George Lucas to create the original Star Wars Concert at the Hollywood Bowl. Flannery designed and directed the concert incorporating theatrical lighting, lasers, pyrotechnics and special effects. The concert was a landmark event and Flannery was thrust into the spotlight. He began a journey of pioneering this new genre of entertainment which was a convergence of cutting-edge media technologies, entertainment design and performance that visually interprets selections of the world’s greatest and best loved music within an arc of themes and narratives. He would trademark these experiences as Symphantasy®. Flannery collaborated for decades with Maestro Erich Kunzel. Their first endeavor was in 1978 with the Cleveland Orchestra at the Blossom Music Centre. Flannery’s Symphantasy® was presented as an annual event at the Riverbend Music Center with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Erich Kunzel.
Flannery is the only scenographer to ever appear at Carnegie Hall in New York as a “Guest Artist”. It was 1988, in concert with conductor Maestro Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra.
Flannery is a pioneer in the creation of water based attractions. He created Water Fantasium, the main attraction in the Dairinkai Pavilion for the Osaka 1990 World Expo (the international Garden and Greenery Exposition). It was voted by the Japanese media as the Fair’s leading attraction.
For the Taejon, South Korea World Expo 93 Flannery created Fantastic Odyssey. After the Expo closed the attraction was relocated to a permanent location at Lotte World in Seoul.
For the Brisbane Australia World Expo 88, Flannery served as associate to Artistic Director John Truscott and as principal site lighting designer.
The 1984 Louisiana World Exposition presented an Aquacade in the tradition of Billy Rose’s Aquacade. Flannery designed the lighting for this attraction.
WED (now Walt Disney Imagineering contracted Flannery as a scenographic and lighting design consultant on EPCOT for American Adventure, Journey Into the Imagination and Kitchen Kabaret.
For Universal Studios Hollywood, Flannery served as lighting designer, conceptualist and scenographer for on such attractions as E.T. Adventure, Kongfrontation, The Adventures of Conan: A Sword and Sorcery Spectacular, and Back to the Future: The Ride. For Universal Studios Florida, he was scenographer and lighting designer on E.T. Adventure, King Kong, and Jaws. Flannery was the principal architectural site lighting designer for Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure.
Cosmic Symphony was an attraction Flannery created for Geopolis at the Tokyo Dome. The attraction ran from 1995 to 2007.
In 1996, he was principal designer for Adventure Slots in the Hollywood Casino which won the THEA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Themed Entertainment. The project was a huge profit centre for the casino and the conceit became a model for other casinos.
Television, Cinema and New Media
In 1978, Flannery relocated to Los Angeles, California and joined the ABC Television Network as Lighting Director. While at ABC he received his first Prime-time Emmy Nomination for his lighting direction of Goldie Hawn & Liza Minnelli Together.
As the Director of Photography for the popular television series, Roseanne, Flannery revolutionized sitcom lighting design and received four Prime-time Emmy nominations.
For feature films, Flannery served as Theatrical Lighting Design consultant to Bob Zemeckis and Peter Bogdanovich on several projects including Forrest Gump, Death Becomes Her and Noises Off.
The LAOOC contracted Flannery as a conceptualist working directly with David Wolper and Tommy Walker on the Closing Ceremonies of the Los Angeles 1984 Summer Olympics. Once the ceremonies were conceived the LAOOC contracted Flannery to direct the closing ceremonies celebration segment and produce the special effects and special lighting. This included designing the infamous spaceship and alien.
In Universal Studios’ bid to produce the ceremonies for the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Olympic Games, Flannery served as Conceptualist and Artistic Director.
Flannery produced and directed In the House of Ethel, in 2007 Winter Solstice Feast of Music Celebration at the World Financial Center’s Winter Garden in New York City. The concert featured magicians Raja & Jarret and poet Harry Smith. This was the first event presented at ground zero following 9/11.
Flannery was lighting designer for the Hollywood Bowl Summer 1992 season.
For The Sonny & Cher Concert tours, their final years together 1977-1979 he was scenographer and lighting designer. He continued to work with Cher on her shows including the Black Rose Tour.
Also in 1980, he was the special effects consultant for Kenny Loggins’ Keep the Fire concert at the Universal Amphitheater.
His photos appear on the album of Neil Diamond’s live concert Love at the Greek, recorded at the Greek Theater in 1977.
In 1979 the New Orleans police went on-strike and Mardi Gras was cancelled. City officials worked with State Marshalls which had jurisdiction over the Superdome and working with presenter Blaine Kern and Flannery as director and designer, staged Bacchus Mardi Gras in the Superdome. He returned to the Superdome in 1986 with his associate John Truscott to conceive the 1986 NFL Super Bowl XX Halftime Show.
In the early 1970s Flannery began his career as a lighting designer in New York City working on and off Broadway. Credits included Augusta and original plays presented by the Chelsea Theater Centre, Ice Age and The Family Parts 1-2. Flannery also freelanced with Jules Fisher & Assoc.
From 1980 to 1982 Flannery relocated to Australia to collaborate with two-time Oscar-winning production designer John Truscott as lighting design consultant for the design and building of the Victorian Arts Centre (now the Arts Centre Melbourne).
Flannery has lectured and taught at universities and colleges globally including USC University of Southern California, UCLA University of California Los Angeles, Art Center College of Design, SUNY State University of New York and UCSB University of California Santa Barbara.
As an active member of numerous guilds, unions and trade organizations, Flannery maintains membership with the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Producers Guild, Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, International Cinematographers Guild, International Entertainment Buyers Association and United States Institute of Theatre Technology. He served on the Executive Committee of the Motion Picture and Television Fund for the Golden Boot Awards from 2000 to 2007. He served as President of the Manhattan Chapter of Muscular Dystrophy Association from 1972 to 1976. Today he is supporting Teen Cancer America with his Symphantasy® series..
1998 THEA Awards Gala, Award for Outstanding Achievement, Excellence on a Limited Budget, Adventure Slots, Hollywood Casino, Tunica Mississippi
1993–1994 Primetime Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Lighting Direction, Roseanne “White Trash Christmas”, ABC
1992–1993 Primetime Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Lighting Direction, Roseanne, ABC
1991 Night Beautiful Best of Show, Specialty Lighting, Universal Studios Florida, Imaginative Nighttime lighting Design
1990 LDI Lighting Designer of the Year. Flannery was the first ever recipient of this award.
1989–1990 Primetime Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Direction, Roseanne “Boo”, ABC
1989 International Monitor Award for Best Lighting Director, Entertainment Series, Roseanne “Nightmare on Elm Street”, ABC
1979–1980 Primetime Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Direction, Goldie and Liza Together, CBS
While attending a New York high school Flannery began interning with Lighting Director, William Greenfield, at CBS Television on The Ed Sullivan Show from 1968 to 1970.
Flannery is a graduate of the prestigious designers’ program at New York Studio and Forum of Stage Design. He attended the Studio on a full scholarship granted by its founder Lester Polakov. The school promoted the idea of conceptual-based designing. All the teachers in the school were working professionals and courses included scenic design, scene painting, drawing, mask making, script analysis, costume design and lighting design.
In 1974, he continued his education at Columbia University in the Film Program. There, he studied with filmmaker Scott Bartlett.
Flannery furthered his theatre studies in directing at HB Studio with Herbert Berghof and Uta Hagen.