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NMSU film students launch campaign to encourage donations to Camp Hope


New Mexico State University’s Creative Media Institute (CMI) not only teaches state-of-the-art filmmaking and animation techniques to make students marketable for jobs in the film and television industry, but one course is helping them use the tools of filmmaking to make a difference in the Las Cruces community.

“I think a lot of people think about the kinds of movies you see at the Allen Theaters, when they think of what it is we do as filmmakers, and creating moving images for entertainment is definitely a big part of what we teach at CMI,” said CMI professor and department head Amy Lanasa, “But film is also a medium that allows us to tell genuine human stories about complex societal problems, and it can be used as a catalyst for organizing, network-building and civic action.”

 Recently, one team of NMSU student filmmakers shot a film and coupled it with a GoFundMe campaign to raise $10,000 in 45 days to fund one year of resources for 50 people at Camp Hope, which serves people struggling with homelessness at Las Cruces’ Mesilla Valley Community of Hope (MVCH). The campaign, launched in late March, encourages the community to donate a portion of their stimulus checks to Camp Hope. In its first two weeks, the project has raised nearly $2,500.

 “I have worked with MVCH before at Jardin de los Niños (childcare for children and their families struggling with homelessness), so I was aware of some of the basic ideas of what they did for their residents in that area,” said Fernando Rivera, a CMI senior studying digital filmmaking.

 Samantha D’Amico, Mario Martinez and Kyle Ivy teamed up with Rivera on the project for NMSU professor Ilana Lapid’s course about the social impact of filmmaking.

“I want to encourage my students to harness the power of visual storytelling to not only entertain, but also to engage with the pressing issues of our time,” Lapid said. “Issues that matter to them. I want to train my students to be content creators who can also be change makers in the world, who can choose to create media that has impact in their community.”

“I had a preconceived idea of what causes someone to become homeless yet after hearing all of their unique stories I gained a fresh perspective and a deeper compassion,” D’Amico said.

 The students based their fundraising goal on supporting one year of services for high-cost items like tents, sleeping bags and laundry detergent. 

 “The residents of Camp Hope were excited to share their stories with the students from NMSU,” said MVCH Executive Director Nicole Martinez. “We had more participation for interviews from the residents than we typically have had in the past. From those we asked, they said they were surprised that students wanted to give up some of their stimulus checks to help homeless people they did not even know.”

 As student filmmakers interviewed residents at Camp Hope for their film, they were surprised to discover the range of diversity among Las Cruces’ homeless population and the various stories that led them to Camp Hope.

 “The backgrounds of their experiences ranged from being an engineer and having everything to escaping an abusive family,” Rivera said. “Through film we not only express our ideas but we have the power to express our emotions.”

Watch the film on YouTube at: https://youtu.be/Y71kumfRIjA

 and find the Camp Hope Stimulus Campaign on GoFundMe at www.gofundme.com/f/camp-hope-stimulus-campaign?qid=5f7227e1f878570eee04b7d6855908a4.

Contact Lapid at 575-646-5652 and ilapid@nmsu.edu,

Contact Minerva Baumann at 575-646-7566 and mbauma46@nmsu.edu.