Things Got Heated When The Villain Of ‘Tickled’ Crashed A Screening

As you no doubt read in my award-winning review [citation needed], Tickled is possibly both the strangest and most relevant documentary of the year. It tells the story of two New Zealand journalists, David Farrier and Dylan Reeve, who set out to learn more about “competitive endurance tickling,” and instead got drawn into a David v Goliath-esque battle with a wealthy recluse who’d been harassing foes and jilted ticklers for years.

The villain’s name is David D’Amato, the son of a rich New York insurance lawyer, who actually did jail time in the early 2000s after some of his “email bombs” caused service outages at colleges. And who also, according to the film, runs a series of “tickle cells” making tickle videos all over the country.

Over the weekend, Tickled screened at L.A.’s Nuart Theater, where co-director Dylan Reeve was on hand for a post-screening Q&A. Much to everyone’s surprise, it turned out David D’Amato was also present.

So, what did he do? Did he remain cordial and respectful as a way to counter the image of him presented in Tickled? Ha, nope, he issued a series of cryptic threats promising additional legal action. This after already promising to sue for defamation back in March.

Tickled‘s other director, David Farrier — look for an interview with him tomorrow — transcribed D’Amato’s comments from the live stream on his Facebook page:

“I have a good speaking voice. I want to repeat to the audience what I said to you. Welcome to Los Angeles. I hope that this film has a long and successful run in this country. Because I think that life is a learning experience, and that you are going to learn a great deal about things as a result of this… and I am not necessarily talking about what a battle in the U.S. Civil Court is like.

I would like to correct one thing that you said. The legal that is pending was not dismissed. It has been currently moved. Our law is a little more complicated than your – ah – indictable offences, or your King’s Bench [inaudible] – God Save the Queen. In this country it is possible to move suits – federal suits – to another jurisdiction. Say, from Utah to New York, and still have the judge in New York try the case under Utah law, because of something called the Long Arm Statute.

The actions have been withdrawn, not dismissed from Utah District Court, and Missouri State Court and now exist in the Southern District Federal Circuit for the State of New York.

So I can assure you that that’s [inaudible]

I have one last thing to say to you, OK. This is genuinely for your benefit. Cameron is a standup guy, who as a lawyer has served you well. As an attorney, any lawyer will tell you that the first code in our canon of ethics is that you cannot represent a client unless you have expertise in a certain area of the field in which you have been retained.

My lawyer – my lawyers – have told Cam – and I hope he’s told you – that as we say in New York, Los Angeles TV: “You need to lawyer up”. You need to get criminal council. I am not going to go into reading an indictment or a list of [inaudible] because that is not my place. But what is going to serve you now in the United States, and certainly New Zealand, you have a nasty little thing there called the Privacy Commission.

Please, if you are being funded, if you are being helped, whatever: Obtain criminal council sooner than later because there are going to be questions asked along those lines. And even misdemeanours, things that you would call summary offences, they do add up and they do become troublesome.

Lastly, I do have to credit you, that while your facts are very discordant, some of the effects in the movie: The music, the choreography, it was done very well.”

Seems like a sweet guy, doesn’t he? Farrier later spoke to SlashFilm about the situation:

“I don’t feel happy about the situation.” “I don’t feel completely at ease with it, because these threats have just sort of increased. [D’Amato] told Dylan last night that Dylan will be in prison and the he should think about his family. Dylan’s got young kids. It’s not nice stuff to hear, and you’re hearing it from someone who has a lot of money.”

Meanwhile, D’Amato wasn’t the only Tickled subject in attendance. Magnolia Pictures also posted video of a confrontation between a D’Amato associate named Kevin Clarke and Reeve out in the hallway:

This argument seems to be about someone Reeve and Farrier allegedly agreed to blur out in the film but then didn’t. Which is an argument people who look bad in documentaries like to make, as if journalism is a corporate video where you need the subjects’ permission to mention them when they do something newsworthy.

In any case, I don’t know how D’Amato’s lawsuit(s) are going, but it seems like he’s doing a bang-up job promoting the documentary. We wish him all the best.