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Good works take Lisle filmmaker around the world
By Susan Dibble | Daily Herald Staff

Bill Kizorek takes background shots for a video in the ancient city of Petra, Jordan. He was there directing a documentary film about how the charity World Links promotes computer literacy training in the Arab region.

 

Courtesy Jessica Kizorek

Bill Kizorek takes a break while filming in a classroom in central Ghana to teach the students some English.L CAMERA .

 

Courtesy Jessica Kizorek

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Published: 3/26/2008 12:04 AM

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When Lisle resident Bill Kizorek packs his bags to go on one of his frequent trips to developing countries, he carries insect-repellant clothing, safe food such as cans of tuna and energy bars, an adventurous spirit and a generous heart.

The former private investigator and current CEO of an international video production company donates the hundreds of thousands of frequent travel miles he racks up to charity.

Then he and his daughter, Jessica, his partner in Two Parrot Productions, go along to lend their expertise as filmmakers to document the charity's good work.

"I feel good about it. I love doing it," said Kizorek, 63. "I have a million frequent flier miles to give away this year."

The miles Kizorek has donated since 2005 usually have gone to out-of-state charities, but he said he would love to give to some closer to home.

"I would like to do it for charities based in the Chicago area," he said.

Kizorek said he donates to secular charities or religious ones that have a strong humanitarian mission. The charity is asked to donate a small amount to the project and receives a DVD to use in raising awareness and funds.

For his part, Kizorek gets another adventure to recount and the knowledge he has made a difference by highlighting the efforts of Americans to relieve suffering in the world.

On a trip to Ghana last year, where he and Jessica were documenting the effect vitamins and glyco-nutrients have on impoverished children and filming how fair-trade cocoa bean farming has improved the quality of life for thousands, he had an adventure that could have cost him his life.

One night, while Kizorek was riding in a taxi that was stopped for a street fight, a truck barreled into the crowd. The truck would have crushed his taxi, but veered at the last minute and pushed it into a drainage ditch instead.

Kizorek kicked out a window to escape.

"I was very bruised," he said.

Kizorek said he was especially pleased with his work with Doctors on Call for Service Foundation, an organization started by Dr. G. Paul Groen, an orthopedic surgeon who practiced in Wheaton before retiring.

Based in Georgia, DOCS sends volunteer doctors from the United States to African countries to teach their physicians the latest medical techniques.

Last year, while he was in the Congo for a DOCS project, Kizorek met the head doctor of a hospital who had fled a couple years earlier to avoid being killed in the violence between the Hutu and Tutsi people. The doctor returned to find his patients hacked to death in their beds.

"The DVD was so compelling that they got everything they needed much faster," Kizorek said.

Larry Dixon, chief operating officer of DOCS, agreed that the 12-minute, 59-second DVD the Kizoreks made helped the organization recruit volunteer faculty and raise funds.

"The quality of the work is absolutely phenomenal," he said. "They're giving a very, very great service to nonprofit organizations."

But for Kizorek, it's not all helping others and no play. While filming for charities, he often takes a day off to go on an adventure of his own. In the Congo, he went on a trek to see silverback gorillas.

"That was a huge thing for me," he said.

Jessica Kizorek, a graduate of Wheaton Warrenville South High School who now lives in Florida, said she considers her father a role model.

Bill Kizorek was always a generous man, but his concerns became more global about three years ago when he took a class with Landmark Education, an organization that teaches participants how to make a difference in the world, she said.

Jessica, an instructor with Landmark, said her father made his class project shooting a video for a charitable group traveling to Cambodia and Thailand and enlisted her help. The video was so successful that father and daughter decided to continue to use their filmmaking skills for good causes.

"My dad found his own self-expression in being a philanthropist," Jessica said. "I'm really proud of him."

Kizorek's skills in video-making were honed as a private investigator specializing in insurance fraud. He authored nine books on surveillance, and his expertise was sought after by shows such as "Oprah" and "20/20."

After he sold his company in 1999, he and his daughter started Two Parrot Productions to shoot training films, corporate videos and international documentaries.

Always a traveler, he's now going to more remote places than he's been before. He's visited 150 countries and his daughter has visited 55.

Kizorek said he doesn't worry about the dangers of travel, but he does take precautions. Last year, he got $750 worth of inoculations. Insect-repellant clothing keeps away malarial mosquitoes and fire ants.

By being careful of what he eats and avoiding fresh fruits and vegetables when he travels, he is able to cure most stomach ailments with Pepto-Bismol.

Kizorek's all-time favorite country to visit is Thailand.

"The food, the people, the islands and the shopping. There is no country as good as Thailand," he said.

In planning a trip to Kenya, he's not worried about the recent political and ethnic unrest.

"Not being a Kenyan ethnic minority, I'm not so concerned," he said. "That kind of thing has not deterred me in the past."

Kizorek can be reached at www.twoparrot.com.