“It’s about a tickling competition but then it gets a lot darker and I don’t really want them to know anything more than that.”

New Zealand journalist, TV personality, andTickled director/star David Farrier sat down to discuss his new documentary, created to take audiences “somewhere they didn’t expect to be taken”.

“It’s a bit of a mystery, sort of a thriller, it’s not just a light-hearted, quirky story about this wacky tickling competition I found,” said Farrier. “I hope audiences are surprised where it goes and hopefully, it makes people think a little bit about their behaviour and how it can affect others.”

Working in a newsroom, Farrier latched on to the story after a surprise email he received chasing up a lead.

“To have that response come out of left field like that was so unexpected it blew my mind…and if they hadn’t sent it there wouldn’t be a film. If they’d just said we’re a bit busy or we’ve got something else on then I would have just moved on.

“It escalated pretty quickly, I started blogging about the emails that were flying back and forth between us that were getting more and more insulting…and then they sent those three guys all the way from America to New Zealand just to tell us not to make a film.”

Screening at Festivals around Australia and opening nationally on August 18, Tickled was shot and produced over a lengthy year-and-a-half period.

“There was a lot of research involved; just getting people to agree to appear on camera was difficult.

“We didn’t want to demonise the whole tickling community because of this kind of crazy aspect we found to the community, so it was important we got some people involved who were into tickling. Tickling is a fetish for some people if you don’t know already so talking to people in that community who were very open about it and very honest…it was important to include that in the film and get that insight into what that is.”

Interviewing participants in the tickling community, Farrier also pursued some subjects who weren’t so amenable.

“There was a few moments in the film where Dylan and I were trying to talk to people who didn’t want to be talked to and made it abundantly clear from the get-go that they didn’t want a film made about them…we’ve had people from the film that didn’t want to be filmed turning up to screenings and being probably a bit more angry than everyone else.”

“We’ve heard from people in the tickling community that were nervous we were making a film related to their interests, but they’ve been really happy with it for reasons we talked about earlier, we really involved the community in making the film.”

Front and centre in the documentary, Farrier features himself and the stages of the investigation in successive scenes, as much a part of the evolving narrative as the ultimate subject of the scandal.

“There are elements of the film where we kind of pull back the veil a little bit on the production of the film which was complicated in itself because when you’re making a film about someone who doesn’t want a film made about them you run into those sorts of problems.

“I think audiences enjoy seeing a little bit behind what’s going…occasionally when you make a film or a documentary it can be nice to explain what is going on behind the scenes as well as what’s happening in the actual story.”

Tickled is screening as part of the Melbourne International Film Festival and opens in cinemas across Australia on August 18

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