David Farrier is a well-known light entertainment TV reporter from Auckland, New Zealand. When he heard that athletic young countrymen were being flown to Los Angeles to take part in "competitive endurance tickling," he thought he had found his next quirky story. What he discovered was a tale of legal intimidation, online harassment, and blackmail much darker than he could ever imagine. The story quickly outgrew the two-minute news segment to become Farrier's first documentary,Tickled.
Farrier became the target of vitriolic attacks and was slammed with cease and desist letters from New York City lawyers. Undeterred, and with the help of his tech-savvy friend and co-director Dylan Reeve, he persevered. They set up a Kickstarter campaign to shoot in the US, which led to Stephen Fry becoming an associate producer on the film.
Named a breakthrough at this year's Sundance Film Festival, Tickled is now playing in the Nuart Theatre in West Los Angeles and at Sunshine Cinema 5 in New York. The film expands to additional theaters on June 24, and HBO has bought the television rights.
Farrier continues to face legal threats over the documentary. VICE spoke to him recently to find out whether it was all worth it and why the FBI should be paying attention.
For more information visit the film's website.
'Tickled' is screening at this year's Sydney Film Festival.
Thanks to Alex Sutherland, Joseph Griffen, and Connor Strathdi.