PICTURED: Filmmaker Stephen Rocha behind the camera. Photo submitted

by Susan Monaghan

A Simi Valley-based documentary filmmaker is developing a series of videos on Southern California attractions, including several Ventura County events and locations. 

Stephen Rocha’s decades of work in the film industry have produced a lot of unused footage that he’s now making available to the public through a variety of projects. His YouTube series Destination Temptation covers subjects such as The Getty Museum, the Griffith Observatory, and this year’s Ventura Nationals. 

One of his latest videos, featuring the Veterans of Foreign Wars Military History Museum in Simi Valley, was inspired by the museum’s collection of American propaganda produced for the U.S. military during both world wars. 

“Stephen came into the museum and fell in love with it, with the WWI posters,” said Nigel Boucher, the museum’s chairman curator. “It’s a beautiful collection, and it’s all original.” 

“For me, the advantage to what I do is that I get to get more information about topics I have specific interest in,” Rocha said. “[The art] is gorgeous illustrative work by some of the great artists of the time … it’s fascinating to see the confluence of propaganda and high art.” 

Rocha attended community college before transferring to University of Southern California’s film department in the mid-’80s, where he met camera operators and film editors working with young filmmakers who later hired him for commercials and music videos. 

Rocha began working for the special effects company Boss Films in the early 1990s. There he worked on the special effects for The Hunt for Red October and Die Hard, and produced his own documentary on the history of special effects in film, which was later developed as a series for the Discovery Channel. 

Because documentaries can take several years to make, Rocha has spent the last eight years working for nonprofits in between commercial projects. From 2003 to 2011, he conducted interviews with Buzz Aldrin and Chuck Yeager for the Society for Experimental Test Pilots, and in 2016, he produced a 10-part series for Ventura County Animal Services, Shelter Life, covering the department’s range of programs.

“There’s a lot of flexibility in terms of what I’m doing, and in between those lulls I try to take advantage by doing some of these other projects with local nonprofits to try to promote them,” Rocha said. “They don’t have a lot of resources, and it’s very simple for me to … provide something to them they wouldn’t normally think of doing.” 

Rocha’s latest videos were put together in between documentary work on rocket tests for aerospace company Frontier Aerospace of Simi Valley. He said he hopes that posting his own work will make his footage more accessible. 

“I’m trying to create a collection where people can find more of them,” Rocha said. “I have so much more material, I just have to carve out the time to edit it and post it.” 


View Stephen Rocha’s videos on his YouTube Channel, Destination Temptation, at www.youtube.com/channel/UCv0t3KvEEsELTG2An6567KA/featured