Jamal Meneide ’19, the Zilkha Center’s Videographer in residence, is a firm believer in the power of the image. When asked to describe why he enjoys his work, Jamal wrote “images can communicate a mood, an emotion – a story – instantly, in a way that doesn’t take a college degree or studying to understand. They’re a level playing field for anyone to access. If each word in these sentences were a picture, I would have told you 46 stories. I think that’s truly incredible.”
To anyone who knows Jamal, his passion for video isn’t surprising. As the co-creator of the comedy sketch series Guys Being Dudes, as well as the creator of the vlog series Hot Take, Jamal’s talent for composition and natural comic timing has been refined during his time at Williams. Those skills were evident early Wednesday afternoon, as Jamal tinkered with the exposure on his camera in a Sawyer study room. Jamal had asked me to costar in a skit, and together we talked blocking the scene, setting up establishing shots, and making sure that one conspicuous used plate would be in the frame. Throughout the preliminary stages, it was clear that Jamal wanted to capture a real experience and heighten it with an incisive surrealism, a strand of shared DNA with the Guys Being Dudes series.
For his work with the Zilkha Center this summer, Jamal wants to use video to reinforce the commitments we make as members of the Williams community. “My video projects for the Zilkha Center this summer are trying to tell you a story about the commitments we’ve decided to make, why they’re important to us, and why they might be important to [other students] as well.” The video we shot on Wednesday is all about Dining Service’s Bring it Back campaign, which encourages students to return dishes and silverware taken from the dining halls. The school loses nearly $30,000 annually replacing all the missing dishes, and Jamal’s sketch takes that absurdity and runs with it. The resulting video is both an absurd satire of apathetic college students and an honest look at the little things one can do to help their community. Williams is committed to being 35% below its 1990 levels of carbon emissions by 2020, but that big picture goal for a more sustainable Williams can often seem vague in our day to day lives. Removing dishes inconveniences dining staff. Smaller choices like composting food waste and returning dishes seem like inconsequential changes in behavior, but they’re just as important as new building standards when it comes to making the campus more sustainable.
When asked what he hopes to accomplish by the end of the summer, Jamal is hopeful that anyone who watched his content will gain something. “My hope is that I can make a series of videos that will affect any audience, from the person who already cares a lot about sustainability, to the person who wants to know more but doesn’t know where to start – to even the person who might not care about any of this stuff in the first place!”
Jamal’s work for the Zilkha Center will be linked here on the Sustainability site, as well as on the Zilkha Center’s social media pages: