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Local foundation ‘produces’ worldwide change

Chrystie Martinez (left), who is head of production, and Creative Visions Foundation founder Kathy Eldon review a map depicting places in the world where the foundation is supporting activist media productions and projects. Chris Bashaw/22nd Century Media
Chris Bashaw, Assistant Editor
10:45 am PDT May 27, 2014

Occasionally, a documentarian with a well-meaning project in mind doesn’t have the financial means to make it so.

For Malibu resident Kathy Eldon and members of her Creative Visions Foundation team, providing production assistance to such “creative activists” is how they see themselves doing their part to effect positive worldwide change.

“I think the only way we’re going to shift people’s consciousness and wake them up in this world is through the power of media and the arts,” Eldon said.  “I’ve been doing it in a small way through journalism and film, and now I think we can do it in a radical way, and we’re doing it from Malibu, which is very good.”

An experienced journalist and filmmaker, Eldon now focuses much of her energy on the Creative Visions Foundation, which is currently supporting the efforts of 75 projects and productions with approximately 130 others in its alumni circle. 

The common thread woven through all efforts supported by the foundation is a certain attention paid to bettering the world, be it through one or a combination of the foundation’s five focuses: Youth and education; gender equity and women’s empowerment; preserving the environment; worldwide health and well being; and human rights.

Since founding the Creative Visions Foundation in 1997 following the 1993 murder of her son, Dan, in Somalia, Eldon and her team have helped to produce a number of award-winning films including “Dying to tell the Story,” a TBS special about frontline correspondents; “Soldiers of Peace, a Children’s Crusade,” a CNN film profiling the Children’s Peace Movement in Colombia as well as “Global Tribe,” a PBS series featuring grass-roots activists. 

Trevor Hall, president and CEO of the foundation, said working with the foundation has given him “great hope and belief” that the world can be improved 

“The level and quality of the projects we’re supporting here just keeps getting higher and higher,” he said. “The impact they’re having on the world keeps getting higher, too. Our activists are achieving public policies; they’re putting kids through schools in different parts of the world and changing the schools here in this country. They’re also shifting political will around the environmental movement – the actual results are just amazing.

“I finally found a place that has this fulfilling sense of purpose, but also a savvy business and media component. We aren’t lightweight do-gooders, but rather smart and focused people who believe we can change the world and have a great time doing it.”

Although Hall has been with the foundation for a little under three years, he said he met Eldon 15 years ago, when he worked at Double Take Magazine, the first publication to publish pages from her son’s highly decorative journals, which Eldon said were found years tucked away in different parts of the world.

Dan, a 23-year-old photojournalist, was covering the aftermath of a botched United Nations raid to capture clan leader Mohamed Farrah Aidid. When Dan and three other journalists arrived at the bombed-out area where 74 people were slain, a mob attacked and stoned to death the journalists.

The incident is what ultimately sparked Eldon’s interested in supporting a circle of “creative activists” who she said she feels hold the same tendencies as her son to tell the story.

“Founding Creative Visions was ultimately about transforming that horror into something positive,” she said. “When you tell a story, there will be people who react.”

The story of Dan’s life, Eldon said, is anticipated to be turned into a feature film tentatively titled “The Journey’s the Destination.”

Eldon said funding for the film is in its final stages, and the story will largely be derived from accounts of Dan’s life.

“It’s not trying to make [Dan] into a hero, but show him as an ordinary person with an extraordinary view of the world and his role within it,” Eldon said. “It’s about this guy’s impact with his foibles and failures, but how do you take a 22-year-old life that visited 40 countries and put it in an hour and 15 minutes?”

Ultimately, Eldon said she expects the film of her son’s life to “motivate and inspire the young at heart to get off their backsides” and get involved in the world around them.

For more information about the Creative Visions Foundation, visit www.creativevisions.org or call (310) 317-9600.

The foundation is located at 18820 Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, above the American Apparel store.