The Big Picture

  • Filmmaker David Farrier discussed his experiences stepping in front of the camera as a documentarian and why he’s ready to solely sit in the director’s chair.
  • Farrier’s latest project, Mister Organ, puts him in a dangerous situation as he finds himself in a cat-and-mouse game with the subject of his film.
  • Despite his eagerness to step out of the spotlight, Farrier acknowledges the advantages of being in front of the camera, including the ability to break the fourth wall and tell a more honest story.

When a filmmaker dives into a new project, at least a piece of it becomes an all-encompassing force in their lives. This could easily be said double-time for those backing documentaries as many of those directors will fully immerse themselves in the story and lives that they’re following. In his most recent project, Mister Organ, Dark Tourist host and Tickled helmer David Farrier was put into perhaps his most dangerous situation yet as he found himself in a cat-and-mouse game with the subject of his film. In an interview with Collider’s Maggie Boccella, Farrier spoke about his experiences stepping in front of the camera and why he’s ready to solely sit in the director’s chair.

While many viewers may recognize him as the host of Netflix’s docuseries, Dark Tourist, which saw Farrier traveling to morbidly fascinating destinations around the globe, his 2016 film, Tickled would serve as his feature-length debut. In the film, Farrier follows the bizarre world of “competitive endurance tickling” — which is exactly what it sounds like. An unwelcoming community, the further Farrier and his team dug, the more dirt they uncovered about this strange sport. Eventually, the filmmaker found himself in front of the camera, getting involved with his subjects. “It was such a big discussion on Tickled whether I would be part of it,” Farrier says, explaining that while he wanted to stay “impartial,” he felt that he’d be doing audiences a disservice. “It wouldn’t be honest,” he says, “It would be missing so much of the story.”

As for how his position in Mister Organ played out, Farrier said, “It was by sheer fate that’s just what happened with Michael [Organ].” In his latest project, Farrier and his team investigate Organ, a gaslighting con artist known for his business of antique dealing and car clamping. While it begins as a hands-off production — keeping Organ out of the picture and at arm’s length — he eventually found a way to physically work himself into the story. For better or for worse (probably the latter), Organ’s involvement in the film meant that Farrier would also need to be more involved. But, Farrier is hoping this will be the last time he’ll be on camera. “I don’t want to keep making documentaries where I am in it all the time, believe it or not,” he says, “Like, I don’t love the camera on me, and I would love to direct something where I’m not in it. But it just happens that Mister Organ and Tickled both had that happen organically, and I couldn’t stop it.”

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Image via Firefly Films

The Plus Side of Being in Front of the Camera

Despite his eagerness to step out of the spotlight, Farrier knows there are a handful of bonuses when it comes to being a part of your own movie. “The thing that’s good, and obviously there’s a million different ways to tell a story and make a documentary, but I think one advantage you have if you’re in the story is you can kind of go somewhat behind the scenes a little bit, and [there are] moments where you see where I’m talking to the crew, or it’s very obvious that people are being mic’d up, and what’s going on, and you can kind of break that fourth wall a little bit. And if you are in the story, it makes it that much easier to do.” Sticking to that idea of “honest” storytelling that compelled him to jump in front of the camera in Tickled, Farrier adds, “I think if you can tell more of the story about what’s actually going on behind the scenes in making the documentary, that can be more honest in a way, instead of pretending that I’m not there and the crew’s not there, and it’s sort of magically happening.”

Mister Organ arrives on October 6. Check out the trailer below.

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