Del Mar producer donates film about caring for the ocean

By Linda McIntosh


Stephanie Sullivan set out to film the unsung heroes picking up trash at the 25th anniversary of the California Coastal Cleanup Day in the San Diego Harbor this past September and ended up with some celebrity footage. One of the cleanup volunteers was Eugene “Rod” Roddenberry, son of “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry.

Sullivan’s 30-minute documentary, “Caring for Our Valuable Oceans,” captures Roddenberry and other volunteer divers, snorkelers and surface support crew at the cleanup sponsored by the San Diego Oceans Foundation.

Sullivan interviewed Roddenberry, an avid diver, as he was about to submerge and collect trash underwater in the harbor. Roddenberry is a supporter of the San Diego Oceans Foundation and co-founded the Roddenberry Dive Team with Greg Martin to share his love of underwater exploration and educate people about taking care of the ocean.

“What his father did in space, Rod is doing underwater,” Sullivan said.

Roddenberry said on his Web site, www.roddenberry “I have found the world beneath the sea to be one of the most exotic and magical places on Earth. ... To take a page out of ‘Star Trek,’ I love exploring strange new worlds and seeking out new life in our oceans.”

Roddenberry was among 130 volunteers at the cleanup day, many of whom were caught on film.

Sullivan is donating the TV documentary she volunteered to produce with the support of the Del Mar Television Foundation to the San Diego Oceans Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes ocean stewardship.

“I love volunteers, and I love to film them, because without volunteers, there wouldn’t be a cleanup day,” said Sullivan, a volunteer community producer for the Del Mar Television Foundation.

Working with Sullivan were videographer John Lemieux and two seniors at Canyon Crest High Academy, Francesca Carter and Dillan Stockham, who recently started their own production company, Clear Glass Productions, with help from the Del Mar Television Foundation.

Don Swanson of The Retro Rocketts Band created the music and lyrics for the song “Ocean Blue” in the documentary.

“It was an amazing experience showing people what it takes to clean up a harbor and make our Earth cleaner,” Carter said. Carter and Stockham spent weeks with Sullivan to edit three hours of footage into the 30-minute TV program.

“It was a lot of work, but it was great to be part of the process from start to finish and watch it all come together,” Stockham said.

The Del Mar Television Foundation, formed in 1986, provides public access programming and offers internships and hands-on production classes.

“One of the goals of the Del Mar Television Foundation is to showcase efforts to conserve our environment, and anytime we are able to do this we feel is a valuable experience,” said Luana Karr, co-president and studio project director at the Del Mar Television Foundation. “The fact that two of our younger members, Dillan and Francesca, are able to gain experience and mentoring in a field they want to pursue is a double advantage for our foundation’s mission.”

Sullivan came to the Del Mar Foundation seven years ago to take a studio production class at the recommendation of Jill Leslie Jones, aka “The Billon Dollar Voice,” who lived in Del Mar. At the time, Sullivan was a part-time model and did voiceovers for Peregrine Systems. She had worked as an extra in shows such as “Pensacola: Wings of Gold” and “Silk Stalkings.”

“Jill advised me to take a class at Del Mar TV so I could produce my own TV shows. I was really into cooking and wanted to start a comedy cooking show,” Sullivan said. Sullivan ended up doing an eight-minute “Del Mar Pulse” program called “Chef Case Study” at the Harvest Ranch Market in the Del Mar Plaza.

She dressed up as a “chef detective” with a black trench coat and carried a clipboard with a miniature teaspoon, scoop and bowl.

“I met Don Swanson, a former actor and videographer, and he added some real spark to the story,” Sullivan said. Swanson choreographed Sullivan in her trench coat, sneaking in the back of the store, and added Henry Mancini’s music from “The Pink Panther.”

“When I got to the food case, I showed my food detective badge and told the chef his food was under investigation.”

Sullivan went on to work on her first Del Mar Television Studio production, called “Sensual Dining.” Since then, she has produced seven programs with the Del Mar Television Producer’s Group and crewed on more than 40 productions with other producers.

Her films range from “Surfing with the Blind” about volunteers from the Blind Community Center of San Diego and “Surfing Dogs 4 Life” about the 2008 dog surfing contest hosted by the Helen Woodward Animal Center, to films about local World War II heroes and at-risk children turning their lives around in outdoor adventure camps. Now Sullivan mentors new producers at the Del Mar Television Studio.

“This is my passion and hobby,” Sullivan said. “I love to highlight people who are making a difference in other people’s lives and helping our planet.”

When to watch

‘Caring for Our Valuable Oceans’ airs on Del Mar TV in January at 4:30 p.m. Fridays and 9:30 a.m. Mondays on Time Warner Cable Channel 130 in North County, and streams on computers at Click on ‘Watch It Now.’

The DVD will be for sale on