Even if you don’t know their names, you’ve likely seen their faces. Jamal Meneide ’19 and Joey Mullen ’19 are longtime close friends and creative collaborators currently working on their debut short film, which they plan to release this spring. I sat down with the duo to discuss the origins of their partnership, their interest in filmmaking, the future of their collaboration and more.
ANIAH PRICE/PHOTO EDITORJoey (left) and Jamal (right) directed and shot Smoke Break In, which they plan to release this spring, over Winter Study with three student actors
MANDELA NAMASTE: So, when did y’all become friends, and when did you realize you shared a common interest in shorts and sketches?
JAMAL MENEIDE: I love telling this story, and Joey hates it, so this should be fun. (Joey laughs.) The summer between ninth and 10th grade, Joey invited me to go to his Cape [Cod] house. Joey and I had the same free periods, so we’d hang out in school, but I’d never really hung out with him outside of school, so I’m thinking to myself, “Uuuhhhhh… Do I wanna do this? I’ve never hung out with Joey outside of school before, and this is a big commitment, going to his Cape house for the weekend.” But I rolled the dice, and the very first night that we’re there, Joey and I end up bonding very hard over the fact that we really liked these girls but they weren’t interested in us.
JOEY MULLEN: By the way, this is like a shack in Cape Cod, I don’t wanna come off a certain way. (Jamal laughs.) The next day, we went to the beach. We made our first movie together, about a crab that dies, and there’s a funeral for it. And there’s a robber that’s stealing the dead body of the crab, and that’s a big deal for some reason. It didn’t make a lot of sense, but it exists.
JOEY: But from there, we did independent projects during the last semester of our senior year.
JAMAL: The sketch comedy that we did culminated in us doing “Guys Being Dudes” — our YouTube channel — together. That was a lot of fun because it was that same element of goofing off, but we started to take it more and more seriously. We did a Kickstarter [campaign] our freshman year to raise money for equipment, and that ended up being successful and started to refine our ability to tell actually convincing or funny stories, which is something we’re still working on, obviously.
MANDELA: When you guys started the channel in high school, was it just a fun thing, or were you thinking, “I wanna keep doing this when we go to college”?
JOEY: I think being able to go to school with Jamal made it a lot easier to say, “Yes, I enjoy doing this, and I wanna keep doing it.” I think if we went to separate schools, I would still be doing sketch and video in one form or another, but I do think working with Jamal pushed me to keep doing it and keep getting better at it. So, I don’t think I would have taken it as seriously if I weren’t in this partnership with him.
MANDELA: Was your collaboration a factor in you both going to the College or just a coincidence?
JAMAL: I wouldn’t say it’s quite a coincidence. I did QuestBridge in high school, and I didn’t know anything about Williams when I was doing that except for that Joey was committed to go here. So, I thought that if all these schools that I’m looking at are about equal, I might as well go to the one where one of my closest friends is going as well.
MANDELA: What’s the premise of your upcoming movie?
JAMAL: Three college-aged students break back into one of their houses after they realize that they forgot some weed there, and along the way, the main character, Michael, comes to terms with a necessary shift in his identity that he’s been trying to avoid.
JOEY: Yeah, I’d agree with that. I think a line we were using at one point was, “Think Mission: Impossible” but with weed and hopefully taller actors.”
MANDELA: Do you guys do most of the behind-the-scenes stuff?
JAMAL: Well for this film, Joey brought on Arjun Pothuri ’21 from film club. We had three actors from Williams — Isaac Wilkins [’22], Noah Cohen-Greenberg [’22] and Peter Duke [’21] — and then people that Joey knew from his town played the other roles.
JOEY: Lylia Li ’18, who graduated last year and was president of film club, also helped behind the scenes. Most of the projects we’ve done at Williams have generally involved film club people helping out.
MANDELA: How long did you guys shoot for?
JAMAL: Two days!
MANDELA: That’s it?
JOEY: Basically two full days. We shot outside in Boston on what had to be the coldest day in human history — it was so brutal.
MANDELA: What made you want to take on this project now?
JAMAL: This story, you know, Joey wrote it about him and his injury, and it’s picked up by the main character and so on. But going through an injury myself last fall, it didn’t necessarily implicate my identity as much because I had already found things that I liked. But knowing that I could have been in that position where I could have to go through this kind of existential crisis also made wanting to tell this story a bit more urgent for me. I can’t speak for Joey, but I think that was something that was really important to him too.
JOEY: Yes, I definitely agree with that.
MANDELA: What’s the future of “Guys Being Dudes” and your collaboration, but also your separate futures in writing and filmmaking at large?
JOEY: (Laughs.) I figured this question would be coming, we’re working on it, and it would be great to be writing somewhere. I love all stages of the filmmaking process, but the writing is still my favorite part, and I think having a knowledge of everything else helps my writing, so we’ll see. I don’t know.
JAMAL: I think for myself, I’m really in love with video editing and really love videography and cinematography. I’m also very passionate about writing, so I hope that I can eventually become a film writer and director, and after college, I’m looking towards things in the digital advertising or production assistant vein, or potentially writing as well. So, in summary, similar to Joey I guess, just any aspect of the creative side of filmmaking.