Edition 13 — Aneisha Malcolm
In the Driver’s Seat
Aneisha Malcolm has edited videos for artists such as Young Thug, Future, and Ty Dolla $ign. She’s also created fashion films, commercials, and short documentaries. Her work is united by a glossy, colorful aesthetic; the shots and editing are extremely polished but maintain a sense of realness. In her videos, models and actors dance, flick their sunglasses, flirt, and speak to the camera.
Today, Malcolm is the Co-Founder and Co-Owner of House of Malcolm, a video production company based in New York City. She’s been creating video for over a decade, but the first time she ever picked up a camera was as a student at Artists For Humanity.
As a teenager, Malcolm loved to draw. She drew portraits of cartoon characters and celebrities. First, she traced the images she saw in magazines, but over time began freehanding. “I would ask people, ‘Who does this look like?’ and if they didn’t get it right, I would be like okay, I have to go work on this more,” she remembered.
Malcolm discovered AFH because she was looking for a job but did not want “a regular after-school job at the mall.” The first time she visited the EpiCenter she was amazed at what she found.
“I was blown away, like ‘what, this place exists? I can make money just from drawing?’”
Malcolm was also amazed by the variety of studios, which meant that she could learn about many different types of art in one place.
She made use of that variety. Malcolm began her apprenticeship in the Painting Studio, did a stint in the Graphic Design Studio, and then spent time in a Fashion Studio that was around for one summer. Finally, she landed in the Video Studio where she spent the majority of her time and fell in love with the medium of film.
Malcolm particularly remembers working on a group project for Google while at AFH, for which the Video team filmed themselves dancing in different landmarks of Boston. The term “viral videos” was just moving into the mainstream and the teenagers were inspired by a popular video of a man doing the same dance in different countries. The group also worked with WGBH, a PBS television station based in Boston, and created an advertisement encouraging people to be environmentally conscious. Malcolm was excited by the fact that large corporations such as Google and WGBH were willing to work with teenagers and give them a chance to learn and grow.
While in the studio, Malcolm learned all the steps that go into creating a video — from storyboarding to shooting — but she found herself particularly drawn to editing.
“I liked the idea of having all these moving parts and then being the person in the driver’s seat and putting it all together,” she explained.
It is a skill that has served her well to this day, she said, as other people in her field tend to avoid editing due to its tediousness.
Malcolm then attended Massachusetts College of Art and Design, where her time in the Video Studio at AFH drove her to major in Film and Video. She had an edge in her introductory film classes because she had already learned the basics of video production while at AFH. “AFH prepared me more for college than high school,” she laughed, explaining that her high school focused on math and science.
While in college, Malcolm also worked in the Video Studio as an Assistant Mentor. Even though she was in a new role, the job didn’t feel like work. “I just taught other kids what I had learned previously,” she said.
Malcolm said that one of the most important things she realized while working as an Assistant Mentor was that she did not necessarily have to work a typical nine-to-five job. This is a realization that’s impacted her career; as a freelance video producer, she makes her own schedule. “I feel like AFH groomed me into the person I am, like making my own decisions and having full control over what I want to do with my day,” she said.
After graduating, Malcolm moved to New York City to pursue video production. Her first year in the city challenged her. “I had just graduated college, I didn’t have any money, and I didn’t have much work experience,” she explained. “But I’ve always been a really focused person. I always knew what I moved to New York for.”
Malcolm utilized the AFH network to find employment. One of her mentors from AFH, Quyen Truong, connected her with a New York film director, which led to her working on her first music video set. Another friend from AFH, Stephen Cronin, who was working for a motion graphics company, helped her to secure an internship at the company. Through the internship, Malcolm worked on her first commercial, which aired in New Jersey. Even now, the AFH network is present in her life; two of her roommates are also AFH alumni.
In 2015, she and her sister founded House of Malcolm, after years of collaborating on projects. Her sister handles makeup and styling, while Malcolm shoots and edits video.
She loves her work as a freelancer, though she says it is not for everyone. Her schedule ebbs and flows; there will be a big rush when she’s working on a project, and then downtime after she completes her work.
Malcolm hopes to do more commercial video in the future, specifically for Black-owned companies.
“I feel like there’s a real need for quality content in that space,” she said.
Recently, she created two commercials for Golden Grooming, a Black-owned shave, hair, and skincare business. The budget was ample enough to give her creative freedom, and she hand-picked her crew.
One of the commercials shows a customer and a barber, both Black, chatting and catching up. The customer extolls Golden Grooming products — all-natural, plant-based, great for the skin — while the camera shifts to shots of him grocery shopping, playing basketball, and smiling at women. The rapport between the barber and the customer feels real and the smile on the customer’s face is shockingly genuine.
Malcolm said that the look and the feel of the commercials came together exactly as she had visualized. “It’s crazy when you plan something out and then you finally see it come to life,” she explained. “It showed me that I can keep moving forward with my goals because there’s a market for what I want to do.”
Written by Lena Novins-Montague.