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Getting their message across

Rock Island Media wants to both sell products and change society

REVIEW, TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Dawn and Kevin DHaeze of Lake Oswego are great communicators with their company Rock Island Media. And they have the awards to prove it.

Dawn D’Haeze was excited to receive the bulky package in the mail because she knew just what it was.

Sure enough, when she opened it there were three golden statues — three Tellys — which she and her husband Kevin had won for outstanding commercial productions by their video company Rock Island Media (RIM).

The Telly Awards honor the very best in film and video productions, and every year, the organization is deluged with thousands of entries from film and video makers eager for the prestige that comes with winning a Telly. Winning three of them in one year is off the charts.

“Look at them!” said a delighted Dawn. “They look like Oscars. Or like a hood ornament on a Bentley.”

An award is always a thrill, but for Kevin and Dawn D’Haeze, it is nothing unusual. Their new home in Lake Oswego is filling up with honors they have won for their outstanding, even dazzling, work on productions that get a corporation or organization’s message across with class, laughs and mainly tremendous imagination. Even in these days when there seem to be no boundaries on what a video maker can do, Rock Island Media is something special.

One example is “Mission Possible,” which was created for the Classic Wine Auction. Kevin D’Haeze came up with a spy thriller with humor and awesome visuals. The cast included a beautiful blonde wearing a stunning black opera dress and holding a long-stemmed glass of wine, in the tradition of Grace Kelly and Eva Marie Saint. It was Dawn.

RIM’s production, which was promoting a raffle on a new BMW, earned $360,000, and the wine auction, which helps more than 80,000 children with medical problems, raised $3.5 million. Mission accomplished.

Such great productions are rolled out non-stop by RIM. Like showing the radio of the future with HD Radio Technology; and a video promoting tourism on Orcas Island, which makes it look like the Garden of Eden, only better. RIM produces TV commercials, corporation videos and fundraising videos for nonprofits, creating both a regional footprint and launching products worldwide.

“What the awards mean is we’re staying true to our goal of delivering a story in a cinematic way,” Dawn said. “We do not oversell, we do not over hype and we do not over promise. We make it feel real and, of course, compelling.”

Kevin is the video technology wizard, while Dawn has many roles — actress, producer, talent coordinator, idea person and convincer. She convinces potential clients that having a video made by Rock Island Media would be an excellent idea. Playing lesser roles are the D’Haeze’s sons Dylan and Griffin, who excel at romping around, and their dog Reed, whose nobility and dignity is remarked upon by all who pet him. Yes, the D’Haezes are the happy family of media production.

Still, Rock Island Media is not all about fun and games or selling products and raising money. What the D’Haezes are most concerned about is humankind. The couple could easily sit back and sigh while sipping wine at posh parties at places from nearby suburb Dunthorpe to metropolitan Paris. But, Dawn is a born crusader with unlimited tenacity, who when she sees a need wants to do something about it, and her talented husband is just the person to help her.

“We have a lot of passion for different causes,” Kevin said. “Fortunately, we’re in the realm where we deliver that message to millions.”

Their big project now is a documentary about the history of education in the United States. That is a big subject to chew on, but the D’Haezes are determined. Dawn is traveling all over the nation to get interviews.

“We’ve really lost our way in this country,” Dawn said. “We want to document the history of education from the beginning to today. Right now there is an education revolution happening, and a lot of people are working hard to make it happen.

“The U.S. is ranked 43rd in the world in education, so we’ve got a lot of work to do. This incredible country should have extremely well-rounded education for all of our children.”

The D’Haezes made their first call for reform with “subCITY,” a production about the breakdowns in the mental health system in Portland. Dawn spent hours and hours talking to people afflicted by mental health problems who were being let down by the system.

Since then, “subCITY” has been viewed by police departments for training purposes and by churches for mission work. The Oregon Department of Human Services bought 1,000 copies of the video to give to Oregon state legislators.

“I couldn’t sit around watching people suffer without trying to find a real solution,” said Dawn, who is a licensed counselor. “It scares the heck out of me.”

The D’Haezes still haven’t hit their peak as video and documentary producers, and they believe they will only become more and more effective at delivering their message; whether their work is for a business looking to make a big splash or showing a wrong that needs to be made right. Maybe even spark a revolution or two.

“We hope to keep building our skills and also use them for social causes,” Kevin said. “It would be a shame not to use a tool like this to benefit society. Doing this fills a need we have inside, not just in our bank accounts.”

Contact Cliff Newell at 503-636-1281 ext. 105 or cnewell@lakeoswegoreview.com.