Images courtesy of CSULB. 

This weekend, Cal State Long Beach’s (CSULB) own director of Advanced Media Production (AMP), Dave Kelly, will be dressing up and walking the 68th Los Angeles Area Emmy Awards red carpet with his wife for the first time ever. 


They’ll arrive for the royal treatment, simply because a documentary Kelly wrote, produced and directed with other members of the AMP Department was handpicked as one of the five best products in the Independent Programming category.

Dave“We’re just going to savor the moment and enjoy the experience,” said Kelly. “It’s an honor to be nominated.”

The hour-long documentary Sky Blue Sea, a documentary on Long Beach’s naval and aviation history, was originally screened independently on CSULB’s cable access channel before its nomination and eventual screening on various PBS stations.

“It’s quite an honor. We didn’t anticipate this,” said Kelly. “It’s one of the types of honors that validates the hard work and effort you put into putting these projects together.”

Kelly worked with other members of AMP, Craig Walker and David Ohl, in collaborating on the feature, which covers the discovery of oil in 1921 and President Woodrow Wilson’s decision to base the Pacific Battle Fleet in San Pedro Bay in 1919, a move that branded Long Beach with a nationwide reputation as both an oil and navy town for years to come.

The documentary premiered at the CSULB auditorium last November, was shown on the CSULB channel (qualifying it for an independent Emmy), and released April 6 through PBS affiliates KLCS, PBS Socal Plus and KVCR. Kelly’s relationship with PBS, through distribution of World War II-focused documentary on Long Beach, assisted in its recent distribution.

“It certainly enhanced and increased the profile of the documentary because of its appearance on stations,” said Kelly. “All of these things seemed to be coming together at once.”

The film was made over the course of 18 months, with Kelly delving into hundreds of documents, examining the naval and aviation history of the city, starting with its earliest days. This is a departure from Kelly’s most recent Long Beach-focused documentary, Long Days Working Hard, which detailed how Long Beach was uniquely poised to take part in the WWII effort.

“This documentary is different because it focuses on the initial discovery of Long Beach by Spanish explorers in the early 1500s, and takes it all the way to the current day,” said Kelly. “[…] the story is complete.”

Come Saturday, win or lose against the four other programming contenders, (a winning chance he accurately estimates to be “one in five”), Kelly said every second will be a joy.

“Putting it into the context of the Emmys, we feel like winners already,” said Kelly. “When it’s over, we’ll be proud.”

Above, left: Dave Kelly.