A group of NMSU students in the Creative Media Institute spent 3 days in Belize producing documentaries on the lives of people there.

“There’s palm trees all over the place…definitely different from New Mexico.”

It was a long way from home for CMI student, Bridges Gijsbers.

“You know they’re all excited to be there…I’m thinking of Bucket Man right now.”

Matthew Valdovinos worked alongside Bridges to make their film called ‘Iguana Project.’

“Their names were great…Lenny Gentle…everybody has a story.”

As happens when you are filming a documentary, not everything goes as planned. Scott Saiz found that out filming a main character in his piece called ‘Modern Mayan.’

“Sandro’s eldest son was cleaning their trash pit…found this big old tarantula…then he goes over there and he kills it and I’m like, ‘oh, I didn’t want it killed.’”

This was not his first project, but he realized how much he knew…and how much he did not.

“I have a DP reel…that I did last semester…since then, I’ve looked at it – I’m embarrassed about it.”

Documentary filmmakers, Carol and Richard Foster of National Geographic guided students…gave them tips, gave them advice.

For CMI Prof. Ilana Lapid, it was her first long trip out with students as their professor.

“I feel fortunate to have been part of it…and then see it translated into reality and actually happen.”

The trip was a first for Danny Delgado, too…his first documentary.

“To do something I’ve never done in a foreign country, it was pretty thrilling and exhilarating.”

His documentary is called ‘Mi Trabajo Mio’ meaning roughly “my work that is mine.” It’s about a women’s collective in Belize.

After this and after graduation, he has a script – it’s a redemption story about a Mexican hitman in Juarez, where Danny grew up.

“I got to see the violence there [in Juarez] when it escalated…I have it in my heart, so I feel like I have the right to tell a story like that.”

Back in New Mexico and days of editing later, students turned in essays to professor Lapid.

“Some of them wrote that this was an experience that really shifted their way of thinking…gave them a new direction…hopes for their career in the future.”

Watch the Belize documentaries online here.