by LYDIA COBB | photos by Soul of Photography

Behind the Scenes

Dale Strack, Tonya Mantooth, and their two children moved to Rancho Santa Fe 12 years ago to be a part of the tight-knit community. “The Fourth of July parade is a perfect example,” shared Tonya. “It’s like a small town – you eat hot dogs and listen to John Philip Sousa’s music on the lawn.” Along with her daughter, Stephanie, Tonya is hard at work on the San Diego Film Festival (Sept. 30 through Oct. 4), a hotspot of culture and an economic engine for the region. The San Diego Film Foundation supports independent filmmaking in its annual festival and in monthly VIP events. Since its debut in 2001 many Academy Award-winning films have been shown pre-big screen, including Silver Linings Playbook, Wild, and 12 Years a Slave. “Doesn’t the eighth largest city in the U.S. deserve a world-class film festival?” suggested Tonya. “We think so!”

“Film has the power to transform people’s lives in so many ways.”

Three years ago a core group who started the festival resumed leadership in the foundation’s board: Dale Strack, Tonya Mantooth, Kevin Leap, and Patti Judd. Dale is chairman and CEO; Tonya is executive vice president and director of programming, and daughter Stephanie, a business management graduate of Sonoma State University who lives in Pacific Beach, is festival producer and webmaster. This year, 100 selected films represent nearly 2,000 submissions from 65 countries. Social justice and military initiatives with celebrity tie-ins will broaden the impact of documentary storytelling in upcoming events screened for the public, at high schools, and on military bases. Cinema lovers are also encouraged to sign up as volunteers for the festival. Tonya added, “Film has the power to transform people’s lives in so many ways.”



Tonya is the owner of Mantooth Studios and produces commercial and feature films. Dale is an entrepreneur who built a vast real estate business, ran the Tony Robbins companies, and also built a publishing company. Filmmaking introduced them. Tonya was producing TV campaigns for Dale’s company: Help-U-Sell Corporation when Dale asked her on a date. “We went to The Lodge at Torrey Pines for dinner,” reflected Tonya. “We were still there at 11:30 p.m.” They then were offered a patio table where they talked through the night. “He proposed to me during dessert and we married a year later,” she added. Now, weekends at the Mantooth-Strack home are valued. When their son Alex, a freshman at Torrey Pines High School, is not playing baseball or practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, he makes everyone waffles and omelets for breakfast.

Parents: Tonya Mantooth and Dale Strack
Children: Stephanie Inscoe (24) and Alex Inscoe (14)
Community: Rancho Santa Fe
Hometowns: Tonya – El Campo, TX; Dale – Camden County, NJ
Occupations: Tonya – Executive Vice President and Director of Programming for San Diego Film Festival, Owner of Mantooth Studios;
Dale – Chairman and CEO of San Diego Film Festival
Pets: Teddy Bear, a golden doodle; Bogey, a schnauzer
Favorite Places to Visit: Wells Fargo Bank, Rancho Valencia, Ranch Mail, Thyme in the Ranch