The Big Picture

  • Gaslighting, a form of mental manipulation, is explored in David Farrier’s Mister Organ, shedding light on the experiences of victims and helping viewers spot gaslighters in their own lives.
  • Farrier faced challenges during production, feeling isolated and questioning his sanity, but credits his committed team for helping him stay grounded.
  • Screening the film to audiences provided a sense of validation for Farrier, as he received feedback from people who related to the film’s themes and felt less alone in their own experiences.

In 1944, George Cukor unknowingly coined a popular term in his thriller Gaslight. In the film, audiences watch as Ingrid Bergman’s Paula is made to feel like she’s losing her mind by her beau, Gregory (Charles Boyer), who has sinister intentions. This crazy-making type of mental manipulation has come to be known in the English vernacular as “gaslighting” and has picked up steam over the last 20 years. In David Farrier’s Mister Organ, audiences get a clear look at what a gaslighter is and how they operate. During an interview with Collider’s Maggie Boccella, following a screening at the Overlook Film Festival, Farrier broke down not just his hopes on how the movie will affect others, but how showing it to audiences made him feel less alone.

As anyone who’s experienced gaslighting can attest to, it’s a very lonely place to be, in which the victim finds themselves questioning everything they know. For this reason, it’s likely that Farrier oftentimes second-guessed his very own production. “Michael’s like the master at isolating people – I was incredibly lucky in that I had this really committed little team around me that never went away. So, whenever I felt like I was losing a grip on my sanity, I could go back into reality again, and that kept things level enough where I could keep somewhat together,” Farrier said, an experience that he describes as “unlike many of the people Michael met.”

When the time came for the movie to begin screenings, Farrier said, “My main fear is that I was just in all of this alone, but having other people watch it and react to it is… well, it’s everything and that’s a great feeling.” He also reached his goal of not only creating a riveting documentary that pulls audiences in but also one that may help viewers spot a gaslighter in their own lives. “And the best thing, it happened a couple of times just after the screening now, is people coming up and talking about similar experiences that they’ve had with people, and that’s huge because that’s kind of… the dream in the back of my head is that this is such a specific story about a very strange man. But if people can see elements of that and people they know in their life, it kind of acts as a warning, and also just a kind of, ‘You are not alone in this. You weren’t going crazy.’”

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Image via Firefly Films

An Exhausting Hour and a Half with Mister Organ

Known for his work behind Netflix’s spooky and sometimes dangerous travel series Dark Tourist, Farrier explains that he was going for a more “hyper-focused” production with Mister Organ: “I guess I wanted people to spend 90 minutes with a very specific kind of man doing very specific things, and you could just, as an audience, observe him doing them and pulling the strings, and just be party to that. Because it took me six years to crack it, and if you can get an understanding of that in 90 minutes, then I feel that’s a good thing.”

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

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