The Inertia

“Look I’m sitting here on a Zurich train station, having spent a day shooting interviews about bike tech, under studio lights,” Sam Moody told The Inertia. “I’m not sure people should listen to my advice.” 

A look at Moody’s 2023 showreel (above), however, would suggest otherwise. The affable Floridian has a case for being one of the most prolific, and underrated, action sports directors and filmers out there. He’s worked with the likes of Craig Anderson, Kevin Backstrom, Harry Bryant, Eithan Osborne and Ishod Weir, and for numerous brands and editorial platforms in the States, and Europe, where he has been based since 2021. 

“The thing is, at the start of 2023, I had no work confirmed. You know as a freelancer you have all these meetings and ideas, and then nothing comes of it. Suddenly I was scrambling,” he said. 

Moody took on shoots with new surfing travel disruptors Thermal Travel in Barbados, Mexico and Costa Rica and immediately as that was greenlit, the Norway luggage company Db booked him for a second series of its Pack Heavy, Chase Light series. Add work with the Hossegor-based creative agency Wasted Talent, and you can start to see why his showreel edited itself. 

“Suddenly it was six months of non-stop travel and by the end, it was pretty hard on my mental health,” said Moody. “I was cooked, but that’s the freelance feast or famine train. Since I started, I’ve never been good at saying no to gigs.” 

Moody started working with Stab doing small amounts of freelance work towards the end of 2016 and signed on full-time in the middle of 2018. In the hectic next three years, he was responsible for films and series including Andy Irons & The Radicals, Stab In The Dark, Stab High and No Contest among others. After leaving the pub, he went freelance working under his CLUBMED SUCKS label, and more recently has pivoted away from core surf. Initially based in Oxford, UK while his partner completed a degree in Persian, he has moved to Zurich, Switzerland as she finishes a Master’s in Environmental Anthropology. 

“The best thing about 2023 was doing more snow stuff. I was getting a little jaded when we’d go on surf trips and there’d be no waves and I’d be pumped to do other stuff or try new things and the surfers wouldn’t be interested,” said Moody. 

This Is Sam Moody, One of the Most Gifted Cinematographers in the Worlds of Surf and Snow

We can’t tell if this is Moody pre- or post-burnout. Regardless the man grinds.

He labels it “Australian coolism” where surfers are so afraid of trying anything that isn’t perceived as “cool” that they get trapped doing nothing at all.

“Snowboarders are just like, ‘fuck it, we’ll do whatever we like,’ and as long as you’re not being a dick, they are down for whatever. That enthusiasm is so refreshing and fun,” Moody said. 

Another highlight was filming with skate icon Ishod Weir. Moody said he hadn’t had a buzz like that since his first shoot with Dane Reynolds. “I was living my 15-year-old dream scenario, filming crazy skate shit but also having a laugh,” he said. “If I can get one trip a year with an idol I’m super hyped on, then it’s been a good year.” 

From the 2023 showreel, it seems last year could be put in that category. When asked if he had any advice for aspiring filmers and directors, the modest Moody had a few key tenets. 

“Look I’m my worst enemy. I have a week off now to get my shit together, but I’ve just bought four rolls of expensive 16mm film and I’m going to Austria to shoot some pure passion projects,’’ he laughs. “I’d just say try and always strive for work where the creativity and the passion that got you into it in the first place is still there. That gets you a long way. But as said, I’ve spent a day shooting dudes in lycra, so what the fuck would I know?”


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