After a couple of years in the making and a successful premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, Tickled is finally about to be shown in NZ theatres.
Co-directed by David Farrier and Dylan Reeve, Tickled explores the world of competitive endurance tickling, and that’s not even the weird bit. If you still have an appetite for information after seeing the surprisingly frightening trailer, here are five other things to prepare you for your first viewing.
I must warn you, though, that reading this is a very spoilery pursuit. Consider this a cover-all spoiler warning for the rest of the article and the links it contains. How spoilery? I can’t say, I may have obsessed over the making of Tickled, but I haven’t seen it yet.
**A quick update, written hours after the previous paragraph. I’ve just come back from a backers-only screening of the film. While it’s still true that some of the plot points will be less surprising after reading this, there is a lot left for the movie to hit you with. This is the only bit of the article written post-viewing, everything from here on in is strictly preview material.**
1. David Farrier’s Facebook page
Even though David Farrier isn’t exactly shy about his online presence, it feels a little creepy to direct random strangers to somebody’s personal facebook page. So here, just have these screenshots. Is that more or less weird? Facebook is where it all started, and some of the earliest posts are the most interesting, innocent even, contrast to current post-documentary days.
This has all been going on for so long that a lot of the links in the comments to the photo that could be considered the Genesis of Tickled are now Error 404 deadends. Both the TV3 news stories and old blog posts from cybersleuth and Tickled co-director Dylan Reeve’s no longer exist, adding to the mystery.
There are some golden posts that show the early moments of the film makers starting to get simultaneously excited and concerned. Dylan’s disbelief – “I can’t even comprehend this” – and early signs of further investigation – “I hope to read much much more about it” are endearing in hindsight. He was just a bystander then, not yet immersed in ticklish blackness.
Anyway, please enjoy this clump of facebook screenshots, including highlights like the time their Kickstarter got funded, the time Stephen Fry endorsed them, the time David was accused of launching a “homosexual Jihad” and hints of the threats legal battle that have shadowed the project.
2. Jane O’Brien’s website – http://www.janeobrienmedia.com/
Remember when websites had autoplaying movies with music that you couldn’t pause or mute? Jane O’Brien Media’s official website wants to remind you.
Backing the slideshow of shooting stars and animated page turns is jarringly epic orchestral music. While in the foreground, with the stars, text tells us things like “How much TICKLING can you handle?” And “Visit my legendary Facebook page and follow me!”
The best part is that this autoplaying monstrosity doesn’t even run smoothly. It buffers and lags, stuttering out short two second chunks, as if deliberately heaping on the anticipation. It’s a lot to sit through.
This is the media company that told David they didn’t want to embrace “association with a homosexual journalist”. Jane O’Brien is described as “a ghost” by an unidentified voice in the Tickled trailer. Familiarise yourself with them, it can only add to your viewing experience.
3. The Dollop episode – http://thedollop.libsyn.com/dollop-viii-competitive-extreme-tickling
I’d never heard of The Dollop before they did an episode on the subject of Tickled, and it sparked a podcast obsession in me. It’s an American history podcast where one comedian (Dave Anthony) tells a true story to another comedian (Gareth Reynolds, who has no idea what the topic is about), the Competitive Endurance Tickling episode being uncharacteristically current. Listening takes about an hour of your life, which may feel a little excessive preparation for a 90 minute movie, but it’s also easily the most entertaining way to catch up on the details, as they stood nearly two years ago at least.
Hearing David Farrier repeatedly referred to as “the bisexual reporter” is a fun little bonus of weirdness, a reminder of just how strange and unnecessary it was that Farrier was called out on his sexuality when first investigating the tickling scene as a journalist. This episode will definitely spoil significant twists and turns of the Tickled movie, more than anything else here, so if you’re wanting to go in somewhat blind, this is one to avoid.
4. A bit of Competitive Endurance Tickling on Youtube.
This is what it’s all about. Seems harmless enough. NSFW depending on if your workmates will be open to your explanation of why you’re watching buff boys tickle each other in Adidas sportswear against a stark white backdrop. This is competitive endurance tickling. Of course it’s totally gay and of course there’s nothing wrong with that. And, of course, that’s what makes the production company’s denial of any association with homosexuality very, very curious. As one Reddit user said, “I think pretending it’s not gay might be part of the kink.”
Like most fetishes, it’s pretty interesting and bizarre to outsiders, and would have been worthy of a report on Nightline or a short news article, or whatever David Farrier’s initial intentions were. Throw in some homophobia and harassment and and you’re set to start expanding into a full length documentary.
5. The Kickstarter Page
Eventually Tickled got some pro money and was even bought by HBO and Magnolia for TV and cinema, respectively. But once upon a time, under the working title “Tickle King” (which was at some point deemed an implicit spoiler and ditched in favour of Tickled), it started as a successful crowdfunding campaign. When you’ve read the substantial campaign summary, tab along to the updates, it’s a fairly intimate look at the film making, and the very Kiwi “we’re doing movie thing but, actually don’t worry about it, it’s no big deal” attitude abounds.
Tickled is coming to theatres soon.
AUCKLAND Premiere – April 13
WELLINGTON Premiere – April 22
NZ-wide release May 26.