A Man’s Passion for Progress: Behind the Scenes in Both the Film and Philanthropic Spheres
Original photos by Gabrielle Chulick
The filmmaking community is no stranger to supporting various foundations. For example, NCIS: New Orleans’ initiative in donating to St. Baldrick’s every year underscores the industry’s give-back mentality. However, one man has humbly spearheaded the acclaimed television series’ desire for these generous contributions — while also touching them with his creativity and enthusiasm for change.
Brook Yeaton, along with several other crew members and employees of NCIS, joined forces to raise funds at Finn McCool’s Irish Pub in New Orleans. The bar hosted their tenth annual St. Baldrick’s fundraising event on Saturday, March 23rd. This year’s go-around was especially remarkable because of their goal to reach an ambitious $1 million, which has been raised over the last decade.
St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a non-profit organization that raises funds to help find cures for children with cancer. At this year’s Finn McCool’s event, Yeaton alone has raised over $11,000 — making him the fundraiser’s top participant. Mobtown Props was also the top team that participated, raising nearly $22,000.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Yeaton became part of the art scene at a young age. As a teenager, Yeaton’s talent was recognized by a production designer: “A production designer happened to be at a party at my mom’s house. He came into my bedroom and saw that I had recreated a New York subway full of graffiti. He asked what I was doing that summer and if I wanted a job at his company, Props and Sets, sweeping floors.”
Working his way up to construction and decoration, Yeaton began to design his own sets for commercials and industrial videos. “I did every single aspect of the art department there,” he recounts. “It was like prop college.” In 1986 at only 18 years old, Yeaton started his own props company called Mobtown Props. He got the inspiration from Baltimore’s nickname, as well as a social club he was in as a “punk rocking teenager” titled Mobtown Crew.
Throughout his career, Yeaton has lived in cities such as Los Angeles, Boston, and even Belize. He was a property master in several films: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992), Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996), and American Ultra (2015). Now working on the set of NCIS, New Orleans has been his home for the past nine years. His interest in charitable work was sparked when his friend and props assistant, Mike Castro, mentioned that he wanted to get his head shaven for St. Baldrick’s. Yeaton stated that he “fell in love with the idea.”
Yeaton’s motivation in supporting the foundation is a direct result of the country’s current state. “Could you imagine getting evicted because you can’t go to work [when] your child is sick and needs you? It makes me angry that that this is even possible in a ‘civilized’ country. [It] gets me out of bed and gives me strength to fight for the kids. I was taught to always help the helpless, and defend their children.”
Perhaps, his passion for helping kids can be reflected through the love he has for his own family. “I have one daughter, Katherine. She is my inspiration and is just an incredible person. My family is everything to me, no matter where we are in the world. We are always connected.” Besides supporting St. Baldrick’s Foundation, he has also raised funds for St. Jude’s due to his grandfather’s involvement with the organization.
Although the efforts from this year’s fundraising event have not quite met the $1 million mark, everyone’s work — including all companies involved — have left a significant impact on the lives of others. “I was told, after the last event, that we raised enough to support three children from the time they are diagnosed to [when they are] cancer free,” voiced Yeaton. “Every doctor visit, test, prescription, transportation — all of it, was covered just by what we did. We help save lives.”
Brook Yeaton will continue to partake in St. Baldrick’s fundraising efforts, along with other employees and actors from NCIS: New Orleans. For more information about St. Baldrick’s Foundation, please visit their website at www.stbaldricks.org.