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Subject's death hits Tickled movie makers

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 19/03/2017

David Farrier and Dylan Reeves say the death of David D'Amato, the subject of their 2016 documentary Tickled, has hit them hard.

An obituary published in The New York Times reveals the 55-year-old died suddenly on March 13. No other details of his death were provided.

Mr D'Amato was the alleged mastermind behind the quasi-homoerotic tickling videos created by the company Jane O'Brien Media, which the documentary by the New Zealand pair explores.

During the making of the film and since its premiere at Sundance, the film's makers have faced legal threats.

Farrier and Reeves say they mostly knew Mr D'Amato through talking to those he had interacted with online over the last 20 years, and people that he had been close to.

"David D'Amato has been a part of our lives for around three years now - a very unusual three years - and despite the various lawsuits he brought against us, this news is something that brings us no joy, and has hit us pretty hard," they say.

"We only met him twice; Once in Garden City, and another time when he turned up to a screening of the documentary in Los Angeles. We met a man who came out swinging, so to speak - threatening more lawsuits, while at the same time commenting that he enjoyed certain elements of the film.

"It seems to us that underneath it all, he did have a certain sense of humour.

"It is also clear that he had certain troubles, and those are troubles that we hoped he would come to terms with at some point."

The documentary began when then TV3 reporter Farrier saw a cash offer for athletes to fly to Los Angeles for competitive endurance tickling. Farrier and co-director Reeve headed to the United States, and found ticklers scared to go on camera and threats from those behind the scenes.

At the 2016 Sundance Film Festival Tickled quickly won rave reviews and sales; Vogue and The Hollywood Reporter named it one of 2016's 10 best documentaries.

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