Meet The Filmmakers
Lazaro “Laz” Ayala is a naturalized U.S. citizen from El Salvador, an entrepreneur, philanthropist, filmmaker, and author.
Laz came to the U.S. fleeing the violence of the Salvadoran Civil War in 1981, just days after the December 11th massacre during which the Salvadoran Army wiped out the village of El Mozote, killing 800 civilians.
Today, Laz Ayala is a successful entrepreneur in Ashland, Oregon. He owns several companies, has numerous rental properties, and is involved in multi-million-dollar real estate development projects in the area. These accomplishments have allowed Laz to give back to his communities in Southern Oregon and El Salvador. Over the years, he has built a soccer field for a local charter school and established a scholarship program for DACA students at Southern Oregon University. In his hometown of San Ildefonso, Laz has led projects to provide clean water and safe, affordable, fuel-efficient cookstoves to replace dangerous open cooking fires.
As the producer of his first feature-length film and author of his autobiography, both titled Illegal, Laz hopes to bridge the gap between the current story the American media portrays of undocumented immigrants and the real stories of so many who make the long and dangerous journey in search of a better life.
Laz Ayala - Producer
Nick Alexander is an Oregon filmmaker aspiring to convey powerful, inspirational stories through the medium of film. For the past 4 years, he has grown his video production business, focusing on video marketing, weddings, and documentaries.
In academia, he received a Bachelors Degree in the studies of Emerging Media & Digital Art and Spanish from Southern Oregon University. Being fluent in Spanish and having cultural experience in the Latin American world, these qualities led him to his first feature film: Illegal.
Nick Alexander - Director
"In 2016 when I graduated from university, I told people that my dream was to film a documentary in Latin America. At the time I was clueless of how this would come to pass - until the day I met Laz Ayala, an immigrant from El Salvador.
I was both moved and inspired by Laz’s story. I knew I had found the Latin American documentary I had dreamed of. In November 2018, I was chosen to direct his movie and my dream became a reality. At that time my motivation for telling Laz’s story was purely biographical—to give the American public an opportunity to step into the immigrant’s shoes and learn about their story of desire, struggle, and success.
As I began working on this project, I realized that sharing Laz’s narrative is not just a “feel-good” underdog success story; rather, it is about finding a solution to the conundrum of illegal immigration. One that is humane, impartial, and a win-win for the migrant, employer, and American society.
Creating this film has become about more than just achieving a personal dream for me, more than simply creating my first documentary, it has become about standing up for something that really matters in life — humanity. In retracing the footsteps of Laz’s immigrant story, we met with countless migrants who are living through the horrors and hardships that many of us have only seen on TV. Everyone has a name, a story, and a dream. Proudly, I share with you the story of Laz Ayala."