Images courtesy of CSULB. 

The premier screening of Sky Blue Sea, a documentary on Long Beach’s naval and aviation history, will take place on Friday, November 13 at Cal State Long Beach’s (CSULB) Beach Auditorium.

The hour-long film 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, according to the release.

Produced by Advanced Media Production (AMP), a division of the College of Continuing and Professional Education at CSULB, director of AMP Dave Kelly worked as producer, writer and narrator of the Sky Blue Sea.

“What’s different about this documentary is that we are taking an overall approach to the history of Long Beach and a long view as opposed to focusing on a very specific time period,” said Kelly in a statement. “We go back from the first explorers who discovered the San Pedro Bay up through the modern day, so we don’t dwell on any one period but rather create a tapestry that provides a consistent thread from the beginning of Long Beach history to essentially where we are today.”


Over the course of 18 months, Sky Blue Sea was made to examine the naval and aviation history of the city, starting with its earliest days. Viewers will learn how Long Beach’s great weather, clear blue skies and long sandy beach posed as geological advantages for the city’s development.

In producing the film, Kelly accumulated and coordinated hundreds of historical documents while writing the script and AMP field production technicians Dave Ohl and Craig Walker served as cameramen during the course of recording imagery and interviews, according to the release.

“There was just so much material to cover, but beyond that, having the ability to connect what may seem like disparate threads was challenging, but we were able to weave those threads into that tapestry,” said Kelly in a statement. “Plus, we needed to use an economy of words because there is so much to cover.

Kelly said that weaving the tapestry is important, but doing it in a way that doesn’t dwell too long on any one period yet relays enough information so it all makes sense is the key to a successful documentary.

“I think we accomplished that,” he stated.


Sky Blue Sea isn’t Kelly’s only production feat. In 2009 he produced Long Days Working Hard, a documentary about how Long Beach was uniquely poised to take part in the WWII effort, according to the release.

As stated in the announcement, project funding was provided by a grant from the Long Beach Navy Memorial Heritage Association that was awarded a large endowment in 1998 from the Port of Long Beach (POLB) to mitigate the demolition of the Long Beach Navy Base. The revolving grant fund is used to fund projects that benefit the preservation of Long Beach historical sites, buildings, resources and archives.

The screening of Sky Blue Sea is open to the public. A reception with refreshments will begin at 6:30PM with the documentary slated to start at 7:30PM. Depending on the turnout, a second showing may be held immediately following the first. The event is free, as is parking in Lot 3 with a dashboard pass.

The Beach Auditorium is located in the University Student Union at CSULB, located at 1250 Bellflower Boulevard.

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Asia Morris is a Long Beach native covering arts and culture for the Long Beach Post. You can reach her @hugelandmass on Twitter and Instagram and at [email protected].