The Big Picture

  • Filmmaker David Farrier faced unique challenges editing his latest documentary, Mister Organ, due to the complex nature of the subject and his inability to tell a straightforward story.
  • The film explores the world of a con artist and master manipulator, forcing Farrier to carefully choose what to include in order to convey the meaning effectively.
  • Mister Organ includes tactics such as talking in circles, making the editing process particularly difficult in order to maintain coherence.

Filmmaker and host David Farrier is no stranger to the long process of editing. The documentarian has had plenty of experience slicing up his work through projects including 2016’s Tickled and his Netflix series Dark Tourist. But, the director’s latest undertaking, Mister Organ, was a horse of a different color. Working on this production wasn’t in any way similar to what he’d done in the past, as it required him to fully engulf himself in the world of a con artist, master manipulator, and gaslighter. Because of this, when the cameras cut and Farrier and his team were happy with what they had, cutting up Mister Organ into a digestible 90-minute documentary was complicated. In an interview with Collider’s Maggie Boccella, Farrier explains the struggles he went through to form the story and how he chose what to keep in.

“The really simple thing,” Farrier says, “was that Michael Organ makes sense in a two-hour conversation. When he’s telling a story, it’s hard to follow in two hours, but you can follow it. When you cut that two hours down to two minutes, or a five-minute scene, all the logic drops out, and it’s like you are watching just complete garbage, and none of it makes sense. So the really difficult thing in the edit was finding ways to get across the meaning of what he was saying without letting it roll on for four, five, six hours, and that was just really hard.”

In Mister Organ, Farrier goes deep into the world of the titular antique store owner and car clamping businessman who has earned a reputation for ruining lives. On his hunt for the truth behind the mysterious con artist, Farrier finds himself trapped inside the world of Organ, where one wrong move could have disastrous consequences. An expert manipulator and gaslighter, it makes perfect sense why it was difficult to mold his interviews with Organ into a concise telling. “I’ve never edited someone that is… he’s almost impossible to edit,” Farrier reveals. “Most people, it’s as simple as maybe you chop out a pause, or you take out one sort of deviation that they’ve gone on. Michael will go on twenty deviations, and each of those deviations will have twenty sub deviations, and so when you cut out those fifty deviations, and you go back to his original point, it doesn’t link.”

mister organ
Image via Drafthouse Films

Talking in Circles

Just like those who’ve seen the Ingrid Bergman and Angela Lasbury-led film Gaslight, which coined the phrase now so common in daily language, those watching Mister Organ will recognize similar tactics — like talking in circles. As Farrier explains, “If you are listening to the whole thing, it does make sense, but if you’re listening to a three-minute version, it’s f**ked. So it was that. It was trying to find ways for him to make sense, and that was so hard.”

Celebrating its premiere at last year’s Fantastic Fest, Mister Organ arrives in U.S. theaters on October 6. Check out the trailer below.

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