CrossFit Filmmaker Mariah Moore on Doing What She Loves at 24
Most people in the film industry don’t catch their big break until they’ve spent years, even decades, working toward their goal. But Mariah Moore is not like most people. She has not one, but two directing credits under her belt at just 24 years old, including “The Redeemed and The Dominant: Fittest on Earth,” which came out earlier this year and is available for streaming on the CrossFit Journal.
Moore works at CrossFit HQ as a Director and Producer, traveling the world for 10 months out of the year on the job. She spends her days documenting the lives of the world’s fittest athletes. In high school, she started going to a CrossFit gym, and it only took one good workout to realize this was the place for her.
“I got in there and was addicted,” she says.
Getting Down to Business
Moore soon began spending more and more time at the gym. “The people there really took care of me,” she says.
Wanting to do something more to give back to this community she felt was giving so much to her, she offered to create a promotional video for the gym. “Making short films was something I was passionate about. It felt like it was a unique way I could show my appreciation.”
Making short films was something I was passionate about. It felt like it was a unique way I could show my appreciation.
At the time, the brother of seven-time Emmy award winner Torin Simpson, who was already producing content for CrossFit HQ, happened to work out at the same CrossFit gym as Moore. He connected Moore with Simpson, and when she shared with him the video she had created for their gym, he saw her potential and recommended that she apply for an internship at CrossFit HQ in Santa Cruz, Calif.
Within a month, Moore was hired. She quit her job and college classes, packed her things and moved four hours away. She was 19.
“I knew I was coming into a position that was only an intern job, but it was in the right field,” she says. “I've always wanted to make movies. I just knew that was my dream. So I told myself, ‘I'm going to figure out how to do that at CrossFit.’”
That first role saw Moore working behind the scenes for the CrossFit Update Show. Once she settled in, she couldn't get enough, and very quickly began seeking out opportunities to do more.
“When I watched Heber, I was like this is what I want to be doing.”
I've always wanted to make movies. So I told myself, ‘I'm going to figure out how to do that at CrossFit.’
Moore continued to work on one-off video projects for a few years, honing her skills in the process. But movie making kept calling.
She was finally given the opportunity to become a Junior Producer. This meant the opportunity to create a feature film presented itself much earlier than she anticipated.
“They threw me into the fire,” laughs Moore. “Shortly after I joined this new team, I found out I was going to co-direct the documentary about the 2016 Games.
With no previous experience, she admits it was intimidating.
“It was really hard at first because there was a lot of time of feeling like I didn't belong there. Like I was too new and I was too junior. I think it's really hard for a young woman to be thrown in amongst men that have already made some really great stuff,” she says.
“They all put a lot of faith in me. But it took me time to see for myself that they had reason to put faith in me.”
“It's taken up until now, two years, for me to feel like I fit in. I’m finally getting to that point now where it's like, oh, I belong here. I deserve to be here, I'm doing good work. We're equals.”
I’m finally getting to that point now where it's like, oh, I belong here. I deserve to be here, I'm doing good work.
More Than Just a Workout
Between onscreen superheroes and behind-the-scenes trailblazers, it’s a good time to be a strong woman in film, and Moore is well aware of that. “It's actually really cool to be pursuing a film career in a turning point in the film industry for women.”
And part of the pursuit she loves is getting to tell stories about women athletes.
“Heber and Marston [Sawyers] get fired up,” she says. “They'd rather tell the women's story which is so cool. The women’s field at last year’s Games was incredible. We almost didn't tell the men's story. We almost just went in a full women's documentary direction.”
We almost didn't tell the men's story. We almost just went in a full women's documentary direction.
Ironically, the woman who emerged victorious at last year’s Games was Australian Tia-Clair Toomey, one of Moore’s first subjects.
“I first went out to work with Tia before the 2016 Games when she wasn't as well-known in the community. I was the first person from HQ to go out and shoot with her, and we hit it off. We were really good friends right off the bat, and so it's been really incredible to watch her not just as an athlete, but also as a close friend, just change as a person and grow so much.”
- #tbt to crying my eyes out after watching an incredible battle that lead to a well-deserved win. It’s been a roller coaster of emotions documenting the journey so closely. And it feels so incredible to not just witness the pay off, but to also have a part in telling the story. This years documentary is going to be one for the books. Keep an eye out for it. #crossfit
A post shared by Mariah Moore (@mariah.moore) on Nov 16, 2017 at 10:10am PST
Being able to showcase this growth on screen and feature women, like Toomey, who are changing the standards of beauty is an aspect of Moore’s job that she says will never get old.
In a world of spandex, full-length mirrors and social media, body image issues are front and center for women, especially those Moore’s age. She hopes that by profiling athletes who are confident in their muscular physiques and prioritizing health over aesthetics, she is introducing young women to a new roster of role models.
“The CrossFit community doesn’t see age, they don't see gender, they don't see ethnicity, nothing like that. They see past it, and they see incredible human beings doing incredible things.”
The CrossFit community doesn’t see age, they don't see gender, they don't see ethnicity, nothing like that.
The Next Chapter
Moore says she and the team hope to one day see this mindset of acceptance expand beyond CrossFit. They hope their documentaries can play a small part in igniting that.
“I had an athlete I filmed tell me people come up to her in the street and say they saw her in that movie on Netflix. And they're not CrossFitters telling her this. They’re just fans of the movies.”
“It’s really cool knowing these stories are inspiring a wider audience,” she continues. “Maybe they’ll be the inspiration someone needs to join a gym and get healthy!”
Maybe they’ll be the inspiration someone needs to join a gym and get healthy!
As for Moore’s next project? Well, she’s not sure yet.
“As of right now, my plan is to stay with CrossFit and to keep telling these stories because it's really, really fun and it's really satisfying. These are stories the world should see, and people the world should know about.”
Photos by Dave Re, courtesy of CrossFit, Inc.