Long Beach During World War II: Documentary film premiers at CSULB August 19
2009-08-07 · By Editor
Long Beach and World War II.
Dave Kelly, the director of Advanced Media Production at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), thought there was a story to be told and so he told it, through a one-hour documentary titled “Long Days Working Hard: Long Beach During World War II.”
The documentary will have its premiere screening on Wednesday, Aug. 19, at the Gerald R. Daniel Recital Hall at CSULB. A reception with refreshments will begin at 6:30 p.m. with the screening set for 7:30. The screening is free as is parking in Lot 12 with a dashboard pass from the parking attendant.
Kelly drew his inspiration for the documentary while watching filmmaker Ken Burns’ series on World War II a couple of summers ago. In that documentary, Burns used four cities in four different regions of the United States to show what happened on the home front during the war.
“It hit me that Long Beach has a really rich history in regard to World War II, and I thought someone should do a documentary on Long Beach and everything that was involved in the war effort here,” said Kelly, who has been at CSULB for 25 years, during which time he has produced a half a dozen mini-documentaries and three full-length pieces.
Serving as the producer, writer and narrator of the 15-month project, Kelly submitted a proposal in fall 2007 to the Long Beach Navy Memorial Heritage Association, and by the following spring he was awarded a $50,000 grant. Almost immediately, he and his crew had the opportunity to film a special event at the Long Beach airport called “Wings of Freedom,” where several airplanes from World War II were flown in, including a B-17 that had been manufactured at a Long Beach plant.
Kelly did all of the extensive research himself, spending many hours at the Pacific Region facilities of the National Archives and Records Administration in Laguna Niguel. In addition, he researched at the Long Beach Public Library and in the CSULB Library’s Special Collections.
“I did a lot of research on what actually happened, then developed a story from those details,” said Kelly. “Then we began taping interviews with people who had some involvement in the World War II effort. We also interviewed some experts who weren’t necessarily involved in the war effort but knew about it extensively through their own research.”
In all, a total of 18 on-camera interviews were conducted. The son of Donald Douglas (founder of Douglas Aircraft) was interviewed as were numerous individuals who worked at the aircraft plant during the war. A Long Beach Navy sailor who experienced the early sea battles in the Pacific and two San Pedro Bay shipyard workers were also captured on tape. Recording sessions included interviews with Long Beach City Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske and retired CSULB faculty member Sherna Gluck. Both are renowned for their research and writing on the phenomenon of “Rosie the Riveter.”
Visual resources, including photos and film/video, were utilized from a variety of sources — the Port of Long Beach, the Long Beach Airport, the Long Beach Public Library, the Long Beach Heritage Museum, the Boeing Company, the UCLA Film and Television Archive and the Queen Mary.
The documentary follows the historical trends that resulted in Long Beach becoming one of the country’s top wartime cities for industrial development, jobs, and economic activity.
“I enjoyed doing this project because it was an opportunity to put together a meaningful and significant program that people are going to appreciate, and it certainly is a valuable story that needs to be told,” Kelly said. “I find historical accounts like this to be fascinating, and this one offered a chance to put the story together in a way that I have never seen done before.
“It’s like putting together the pieces of a puzzle. People know about it, but they know about it in terms of its individual components,” he continued. “No one has tried to weave a tapestry where all the strands come together. That’s what I tried to do so that it all made sense historically and chronologically, and also in terms of how the various Long Beach experiences all tied together.”
For information about the documentary or about the premier, contact Kelly at 562/985-7921.