Student Filmmaker Learns to Lead and Bring Change
By Dawn Gibson
Leading the next generation with flare and creativity is filmmaker Jihad “JZ” Ziyad. This 2009 graduate of Clark Atlanta University (CAU) left his creative mark on projects he helped to produce in Europe during his study abroad program in London and Cannes, France, in 2008 and 2009. CAU is one of 11 United Methodist-related historically Black colleges and universities supported by the Black College Fund.
Students have a chance to study at an international institution while still enrolled at CAU. Ziyad reflected on how the experience thrust him in the midst of filmmaking at its finest and inspired him to apply excellence to his independent film projects and as a part of 4Reel Productions, a campus film-production group of which he is the vice president.
“Going to the Cannes Film Festival showed me that I needed to step up my game and do 10 times better than what I am doing now,” said Ziyad. “It’s all about business when you hit Cannes.”
In addition to learning film technique, Ziyad learned about leadership and effecting change. “Learn, lead, change” is CAU’s motto, and much of that is wrapped up in Ziyad’s very being. In fact, he feels called to make a difference by producing films focused on social issues.
“If God has given me talent, I have to use it for progression, not just for myself, but also for other people,” said Ziyad. Because others have changed Ziyad’s life for the better, he wants to do likewise. He shares how support from family and campus mentor Larry Calhoun, director of CAU’s department of marketing and communications, has inspired him throughout his college experience.
“It has been a great journey,” Ziyad stated. “I’ve experienced a lot, I’ve grown a lot, and I have had the chance to inspire others a lot.”
He added, “It humbles you and gives you a sense of pride to know you are not the only one pursuing a dream.”