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  • Writer's pictureDiondre Taylor

"Behind the Scenes: The Making of 'Illegal The Movie' - A Closer Look at Our Most Popular Project"

Have you heard about our feature-length documentary called Illegal? It is about the miraculous journey of Salvadoran immigrant Laz Ayala’s life or death path to U.S. citizenship, the challenges of present-day immigration, and his mission to humanize immigrants and reform immigration for the benefit of all. It is directed by our own Nick Alexander and filmed by the Nick Alexander Films team. This month we are revisiting this catalyst project and revisiting the project that truly birthed Nick Alexander Films!

How It Started

After graduating from SOU in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in emerging media and digital arts, Nick founded Nick Alexander Films – a video production company in southern Oregon. At the time, it was just a one man band. Later his wife joined the team and also Tanner Northrop. Ever since graduation, Nick would say that his career goal was to create a documentary in Latin America. For the first two years of running his business part-time, that goal was merely a dream. Regardless, Nick would film the projects that came his way, and even made short documentaries about the Latino community as much as he could.

In spring of 2018, Nick was hired to film a Rotary event at the Rogue Valley Country Club where an immigrant named Laz Ayala would be sharing his life story. Little did Nick know that speaker’s incredible immigrant story was exactly what he was looking for. After filming Laz’s presentation, Nick approached Laz and told him that his story could be a great movie. Laz shook Nick’s hand, chuckled, and told him thank you. At that time, Laz did not take Nick’s suggestion seriously, but it wouldn’t be long until he did.

Fast forward to summer of that same year, Nick received a phone call from Laz that he wanted to chat more about the movie idea. The two of them gathered multiple times over coffee to brainstorm what this movie could become. By the end of the summer, Laz agreed to hiring Nick and his team to film and direct a documentary film about his life story. The fall of 2018 was a busy time for Nick as he dived into pre-production aggressively and made plans for the team’s first international film trip.

Illegal The Project broke ground in December of 2018 with principal photography concluding in the spring of 2019. During December, team filmed in El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and Southern California over the span of one week. It was an amazing film trip with so many beautiful moments in the Latin American culture and people. Below we have attached some photos from the memorable project!

The Outcome

After the filming, Nick dived into the post-production phase, which lasted about three months, starting in May of 2019. The movie premiered February 23, 2020 at New York City’s 9th Annual Winter Film Awards International Film Festival.

Illegal wrapped up a successful Kickstarter campaign in April 2020 which raised over $40,000 for the production of the film. The film was selected to over 50 festivals including Beverly Hills International Film Festival, Ashland Independent Film Festival, and Richmond International Film Festival. Illegal was acquired by Freestyle Digital Media, the digital film distribution division of Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios and launched on VOD on Apple TV, Amazon, Sling, Google Play and Xbox July 2021.

Click on the movie poster below to watch the official trailer!

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