Moira Demos Was A Student When She Began 'MaM'

by Alexi McCammond

Exactly one month after the release of the popular Netflix docuseries Making a Murderer, co-directors Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi are making an appearance on The Daily Show on Monday. If you've seen any of the series, you likely have a few questions about the Steven Avery case and what his future looks like after the documentary has gained so much public attention. It's great that the directors are sharing more information about the behind-the-scenes aspects of their show, but many of us are still left wondering: who is Making A Murderer co-director Moira Demos?

When Demos began filming 10 years ago, she remained largely anonymous as she searched for a deeper story behind the Steven Avery case. After dedicating a decade of her life to a single project, especially one that has gained national attention, it's safe to say there are little-known facts about Demos and how she has been influenced by this film production.

Demos, now 45, didn't have a known film career until the release of Making a Murderer. In fact, Demos told The New York Times that she and Ricciardi rented a car and borrowed a camera when they initially traveled to Manitowoc County. Here's a little bit more about Demos:

Moira Demos Received A Graduate Degree In Film At Columbia

In November 2005, The New York Times published a front page article about Steven Avery's case. As a graduate film student at Columbia University, Demos was intrigued by the article and wanted to further explore the case, so she went to Wisconsin with Ricciardi to attend Avery's preliminary hearings. Just before she was scheduled to return to New York for school, Demos was notified of an unexpected press conference, which revealed that Avery's nephew, Brendan Dassey, was a new suspect in the case. In an interview with Buzzfeed, Demos talked about her experience witnessing the case unfold in real time.

It caught everyone off guard. It caught the family off guard, as you can see — they’re reeling from it. At that point, we knew that this was going to be more than we had thought.

Demos graduated from Columbia's School of the Arts in 2008, so she made trips back and forth between New York and Wisconsin to film and investigate the story while she was still a student.

Making a Murderer Is Her First Full Production

Before the hit documentary, Demos worked primarily behind the scenes on various films and productions. Most notably, she worked as an additional electrician for Salt, a 2010 film starring Angelina Jolie as a CIA agent accused as an undercover Russian spy. Demos was also the editor and cinematographer for the 2003 short film Spring in Awe, which debuted at the Brooklyn Film Festival. "Shot entirely in Times Square, Spring In Awe examines how the realities and absurdities of the war in Iraq are obscured by the blurring of the lines between news, entertainment and advertising," according to the film festival's website. It wasn't until Making a Murderer that Demos took the lead on writing, directing, editing, and filming.

Demos Cares About How People Understand The Criminal Justice System

Although she does not have a legal background like her co-director Ricciardi, Demos used her experience with film production to highlight a prevalent concern in society: criminal injustice. After spending 10 years filming one project, Demos became highly invested in the case and learned more about the legal system and how she believes it can negatively affect many people in the world. Because of this, she told Vulture, her one hope for the documentary was to expose these perceived injustices.

One of the experiences we hope will come across is what it's like to be accused in this country, what it's like to go through this system. The hope is that with firsthand experience, people will think differently about the criminal justice system: what is working and what is not working, and the role each one of us plays in that.

She Took On Odd Jobs To Pay For Film Production

When the co-directors first learned of Steven Avery back in 2005, Demos and Ricciardi had been dating for two years. Because they were both students living in New York but traveling back and forth to Wisconsin, the pair needed extra money to support the project. Demos worked as a lighting electrician for TV and films to earn additional resources for filming in Wisconsin.

It often worked in our favor that we could be "students" who were just doing this little thing. Some people were curious and wanted to get to know why we were making this project. And other people put up walls right away.

Images: Netflix (1), Giphy (1)