Teen filmmaker Mali Crosby writes his way toward a new path

in Features/Profiles by

Watching a movie while studying for midterms may not be the best way to prepare for an exam, but for senior Mali Crosby, it opened up a path he never thought he would pursue. 

“I always thought I would pursue a career in computer science,” Crosby said. “From a very young age, that was what I was supposed to do, especially because a lot of my family went into technology.” 

Crosby first realized that computer science might not be for him in ninth grade, where he took his first official computer science class at Heritage. 

Exhausted from a long day of work, Crosby turned on the film “Call Me By Your Name” to watch as he worked on his midterm project for class. 

It was that exact moment that made Crosby realize that he did not want to code; he wanted to make movies. “It felt like the film spoke to me,” Crosby said. “Sitting long hours at a desk and writing line after line of code was just not ‘me.’”

Three years later, Crosby became the co-executive producer of Heritage’s Patriots TV, the president of Film Club and the Student Television Network, a member of Quill & Scroll and the producer of two award-winning films, “A Family Affair” and “prey.”. 

“prey,” an autobiographical film about sexual assault, was the first work Crosby produced. His film won “Best Student Short” from the Robinson Film Awards, was an “18 and Under Finalist” in the UNICEF Innocenti Film Festival and a “Spark Award Nominee” at All American High School Film Festival. It was also screened at the Seattle International Film Festival, The National Film Festival for Talented Youth and the CineYouth Film Festival.

“One of the best qualities that Mali has as a filmmaker is his dedication to art,” Mrs. Maria Molina, his former Broadcast teacher, said. “In ‘prey,’ it was unique to see how a young person tackled the heavy subject of sexual assault.”

Crosby’s second film, “A Family Affair,” also stemmed from a dark situation Crosby experienced; it was about a relationship he had in his sophomore year.

“I had a professor -I do not remember who – that said the only good stories are the ones based on truth; so every story I tell, I try to put little pieces of me in it,” he said. 

Unlike “prey,” where Crosby was the director and actor, “A Family Affair,” featured different actors from Prodigy Camp camp, which Crosby attended during last summer. 

Crosby and nineteen other musicians and filmmakers were selected for the camp to take lectures from industry professionals for two days and produce and edit a film in the next three. “It was an incredible experience,” he said. “We had these camp fires every night where you would sit in front of a whole group of campers and talk about the most difficult things that you have ever experienced.” 

This created a new family Crosby could never have dreamed of. “I still go to these people for little things and, of course, for film help too, since they are film makers.” 

Even as a young film-maker, Crosby’s work not only speaks to and influences teens who may have gone through similar situations, but adults as well. 

 “Mali is purpose driven, courageous and inspiring,” Dr. Rick Stevenson, the founder and director of Prodigy Camp, said. “He never takes the easy path; he confronts injustice and is fearless. Mali’s voice needs to be heard, or rather, deserves to be heard,” he said. 

Crosby is currently working on writing a rough draft of his feature length, which will be the longest film he has ever produced. Other than filming, he is busy with applying for colleges, where he plans to become a film major.

Mali Crosby shoots his short film, “A Family Affair” the summer of his junior year at Prodigy Camp. (Photo/Mali Crosby) 
Mali Crosby attends the Suncoast Student Production Awards, going home as one of the 2022 High School Winners. (Photo/Mali Crosby)
Mali Crosby, left, presents his film, “A Family Affair,” the last day of Prodigy Camp with the director, right, Rick Stevenson. (Photo/Mali Crosby)

Kayra Dayi will be entering her second year on the Patriot Post Staff as the Social Media Correspondent and entertainment editor. Kayra moved here from Turkey in 6th grade and loves to visit her home country during the summer. In her free time, Kayra adores reading. She also likes to paint, listen to indie pop/rock, crotchet and write. Kayra especially loves to highlight important issues happening around her in her artwork and writing. One example is her Instagram account, kaykays.artworks, where she sells her artworks to donate to BALEV, a non-profit organization in Turkey which helps fund students' educations. She is involved in Mock Trial, the AHS book club, NEHS and will be trying out for the American Heritage tennis team. She looks forward to this year.