California State University, Long Beach
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CSULB Documentarian Screens New Film

A new documentary on an African American architect credited with designing the Long Beach Navy Base and the first African American to join the American Institute of Architects in 1923 was screened on July 25 at CSULB.

Titled “Paul Revere Williams: A Legend in Architecture,” the television documentary was written, produced and narrated by Dave Kelly, a documentarian and the director of Advanced Media Production (AMP) at CSULB.

The documentary on Williams (1894-1980) is 25 minutes in length and examines the architect’s family life, career and accomplishments.  He is one of two architects credited with designing the Long Beach Navy Base and was the architect of record for more than 3,000 projects, the majority in Southern California.  Much of the film focuses on work he did in Long Beach and the impact he had in the city.

“In the documentary we talk about what it was that made him special,” said Kelly.  “He really created structures that were aesthetically pleasing, involved great landscaping and were wonderful to look at, yet were very functional as well.” He managed to overcome many societal obstacles while becoming one of the most successful architects in California history.

Among familiar projects Williams designed include the theme restaurant building at Los Angeles International Airport, the makeover of the Beverly Hills Hotel and Polo Lounge, the Los Angeles County Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles and Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills.  He also designed numerous mansions for entertainers and corporate moguls.

“As I began looking into it, I realized this would be a great documentary, something that I would really like to do,” said Kelly. “Not only that, but it got to the point that I thought to myself that I was really lucky to be in a position to do this. So, I felt extremely fortunate and even blessed to be given the opportunity.” Major research began in March 2006 and the project was completed this June.

Among many other projects, Kelly also wrote, produced and narrated the 1996 documentary “Cargoes and Cultures: Influences Within the Pacific Rim,” a program that was a local ACE (Award for Cable Excellence) Award national finalist and played on PBS stations nationwide. He has a bachelor’s degree from Drake University in Iowa and a master’s degree from the University of Southern California Cinema School.

The Williams’ project came about in July 2005 when Kelly was approached by John Malveaux, an individual involved in Long Beach historical preservation projects and who served as one of the film’s consultants.  Funding for the documentary’s production came through a grant from the Long Beach Navy Memorial Heritage Association.

Paul Revere Williams

Kelly was supported by videographer Dave Ohl, an AMP media production specialist who also did post production and graphics; AMP television engineer Jeff Williams, who provided technical and lighting assistance; and AMP digital systems analyst Craig Walker, who was responsible for field audio recording and image scanning along with overseeing a companion Web site.

The documentary was produced by Advanced Media Production, a division of CSULB's University College and Extension Services.