There's been a lot of news coverage of the "extreme haunted house" McMamey Manor recently.
I spent 3 days filming with Russ at McKamey Manor and documented it for my Netflix show Dark Tourist.
So with that in mind, Ask Me Anything about McKamey Manor and my other excursions!
PS Proof this is me lol: https://twitter.com/davidfarrier/status/1189271944711036936
EDIT: Wrapping up soon, this has been heaps of fun!
EDIT 2: Well it's 4.40 ET and the time has flown and I've had a blast. If you want to keep up with my work I try and post it up at davidfarrier.com, or I am www.twitter.com/davidfarrier and www.instagram.com/davidfarrier. Thanks all you lovely humans. It really is an honor and it's so nice talking to you. Be kind, pat a cat.
Based on the footage that McKamey Manor puts out themselves, there is countless footage of people begging for the haunt to end, people who have black eyes/bruises, and people who look like they are going into shock.
How are they able to not allow a “safe word” or allow guests to stop the haunt when they feel they have had enough? Holding people against their will and abusing people is illegal (is it not?)
Russ claims that he personally selects who enters the haunt. What is the basis of his selection process?
Does anyone working at the haunt have any medical training considering they are using such extreme measures on people?
The biggest rumor I have heard is that there is a waterboarding element to the haunt. Is this true or not?
You were an invited guest while filming the episode for your show. What questions were you not allowed to ask or what questions did Russ refuse to answer?
Did you talk to other people who had gone through McKamey Manor?
Did you go through the McKamey Manor experience? If so, do you think you got a toned down version for Netflix?
Russ mentions the “people in Vegas who are watching” in his videos. Who are these people? Did you ask him about this?
1/ You're told going in that the safe word is there... but he will decide if he uses it or not. It's all psychological warfare. He's good at this!
2/ I think his reasons for picking people are all personal to him. There are not 1000s applying anymore. It's not as big as he says it is. It's all the cult of personality.
3/ Not that I am aware of
4/ I didn't see it
5/ We could ask whatever we wanted and Russ didn't refuse to answer anything
6/ Yep, other guests went through over our 3 day shoot. No one made it, of course. They all bailed.
7/ I bailed after the introduction! Once I was in his van alone, I wanted out. Then we just shot with others going through.
8/ I'd say it's all myth building. I mean he said that... now I read a zillion rumours about some Vegas cult paying him thousands for videos.
Dark Tourist was very balls to the wall and at times quite graphic. Did you run into any problems convincing Netflix to air some of the more graphic segments, like for instance the Ma’nene funeral rite? Also any chance of a season 2 of Dark Tourist? Easily one of my favourite Netflix originals.
Ps: I just wanted you to know my girlfriend fancies you which means you’ve made an enemy for life.
We had to cut a lot of stuff. There are some edit's we have lying around somewhere with... a lot more in them. I always think if Andy in his museum. He had an Isis room. Enough said.
What was the most surprising thing you saw in the waiver you had to sign?
There was basically a line in there about death, and McKamey Manor not being responsible. But I mean you get that when you Sky Dive, don't you? Teeth being extracted was in there. I mean the whole thing is part of the haunt. It's to freak you out. Part of the act. So when you're blindfolded and pushed around, that 3 hour's worth of waiver you just read out is circling in your brain!
Do you have a dream Dark Tourist episode that you'd love to produce?
We discussed going to Chernobyl for the show - storylines around hunting radioactive boar, and some of the giant raves they have going on. But we thought "everyone knows about that story, it's been done to death, no one will want to watch anything about Chernobyl"
Then Chernobyl came out lol
Is the McKamey Manor bad as everyone makes it out to be?
How far did you make it through?
What was the worst part of it in your opinion?
I was a pathetic coward. I did 3 hours of waiver, and then got kicked around by Russ while having all my senses taken away (blindfold, mouth strapped open, headphones playing stuff). By the time I was going to be left alone in the van with him, I freaked out. The rest of my weekend I spent listening to people go through the manor (we were not allowed to film, but Russ was mic'd so we could listen in) and look... I am glad I bailed.
McKamey Manor has nothing to do with the place or the props of the size of it all... it's all Russ. As long as Russ has you bound and gagged, that's the Manor. Does that make sense?
Hey David, love your stuff! Any news on a Dark Tourist season 2? I've seen the first season twice already
Just one season at this stage! Me and the team are working on some new things. I take a long time to make things! But I hope to give you something that I hope you like "soon"
Have the experiences you went through on your excursions for Dark Tourist had a long-lasting influence or impact on your life act all? And has it changed or altered your perspective on anything at all?
Brilliant show, me and my uni mates binge your show after every night out !!!
I am even more acutely aware that I know nothing. All of us are stuck on this planet with no idea why, and we are all coming up with answers. It's ridiculous, marvellous, wondrous, terrifying position to be in.
Hi David! Love your show!
Can’t wait for more. Couple questions for you:
1) Would you say you could have lasted much longer during that McKamey Manor ordeal? What was the moment mentally when you determined that you had enough. I felt you could have lasted much longer.
2) What do you make of the Louis Theroux comparisons?
4) If you had a book to recommend to me to read right now, what would it be?
3) What was your primary emotion when one of those voodoo ladies were washing your balls?
Thanks for doing this David!
No way I'm a wimp. It was honestly the moment I knew I was going to be left alone with him. No crew etc. That is when I discovered I was a scaredy cat
Flattering! Louis is the man. Love his work, grew up with it - he was big in New Zealand (can you tell?)
Non-fiction: Bad Blood, I'll Be Gone In The Dark, The Great Pretender, and that new giant book about the making of Alien. Fiction: The Incendiaries, The Institute, and re-reading Pet Semetary (I'm a sucker for King, speaking of which... holy mack, finally read Insomnia. Had no idea how much of a giant Dark Tower tie in it was. How did I miss that?!!!)
My partner and I love your show and we have watched the season through multiple times. We recommend it to anyone who we think would enjoy it.
Is there anywhere or anything that you wanted to make an episode about but ended up not doing it because it was too extreme or risky? Was anything off limits? Further, is there anything that you DID do, but it was cut because it was 'too much'?
Thankyou! To you, and your partner. Wonderful.
We wanted to do something in North Korea.
Instead we pivoted into Turkmenistan.
We cut a lot of animal sacrifice. There is only so much pig screaming one can listen to before switching off.
What was your most memorable experience while filming Dark Tourist? Love the show!
Spending time in Benin was transcendent. An honor. Huge. Martine, my guide & voodoo priestess was an incredible woman. Ran an orphanage on the side. Some of our stories in our lil' show could have been entire episodes unto themselves. She was one of those.
Was there anything you expected to be terrifying but was actually a complete walk in the park? Or vica versa?
Pop Eye, Pablo Escobar's hitman. He was by far the most dangerous person I've ever met. But... all I wanted to do with sit down and have a beer with him. Such is the power of charm. I think about him often.
Did you feel real fear that you would be physically harmed during the experience or was it rather the emotional upset it was causing you that led you to withdraw?
Absolutely worried. I mean, you are really knocked around. It's unpredictable.
I really enjoyed Dark Tourist a lot, will there be a 2nd season? If not, do you have any other plans in the works for something similar? Thanks!
Just one season of DT! I am working on a new thing now. My stuff takes awhile to make, because real-life and that. Sometimes I fantasise about working in scripted where you just invent the story and shooting takes like a month. Imagine!
In my opinion watching videos of McKamey Manor, the guy that runs the place seems to be a sadist. Gaining joy from the torture that is handed down. I do not see this as a "haunted house". What are your views on this? Also do you think the $20k prize is legit, or would he keep it going until someone finally quits to keep from paying out?
There is so much unverified trash floating around online about this place now, it's not even funny. Social media has made it worse. No one checks any random allegations floating around. Which is what Russ wants, I imagine! And look.... no one finished the Manor. That's the gimmick. He won't let you. The rules shift.
Hi David! I just want to say thanks for uncovering that weird antiques store and their parking antics, that was a great story to follow.
Any chance you’ll take a look into what’s going on in Marton?
Marton is out of my league
Any chance of using your Netflix powers to get GHOST SHARK 2: URBAN JAWS to a deserving wider audience?
What a great film. Whenever I go to Netflix I leave copies of Ghost Shark 2 in their fancy toilet block next to all the self-pasted toothbrushes.
Hi David! I’m a huge fan and a young journalist, and I was wondering about any ethical issues you ran into filming Dark Tourist? Was there ever a point where you had to sit down with your crew and discuss like - should we film this? Should we break this law in a foreign country? Or anything like that. Thank you so much!
Endless ethical discussions. Sometimes we got it right, sometimes we didn't. But as much as we could we worked with locals on the ground to try and get it right.
Hey, David. I know it was only one season but what was the process of making Short Poppies like for you? What was it like to “act” like a journalist? Does the prospect of acting in any other capacity interest you at all?
Love all of your work! Glad to see you are getting more recognition.
Short Poppies was really good for me, as it was the first thing I'd been involved with out of the newsroom. Learnt a lot from director Michelle Walsh. Observing Jemaine Clement, Rhys Darby, Stephen Merchant and Sam Neill - I mean, holy shit, right? Also learnt I did not want to be an actor.
Why do you think people voluntarily participate in McKamey manor and what do you feel are the owner's motivations for running it?
Thanks to Russ' showmanship, the Manor is like this challenge people feel they have to beat. I totally get it. Like how people flood to the latest biggest rollercoaster. Same thing. Russ' motivations? I don't think we'll ever know. I mean, he enjoys two main things I think: Freaking people out, and editing his videos. Genuinely loves both those past times.
Hello from Canada! I discovered Dark Tourist just last week and binged it all in one evening. It's fantastic!
I have a bit of an odd question for you... In your travels for Dark Tourist, where was the best food that you ate?
I look forward to seeing your next projects!
I ate the best food in Mexico City. Oh, and in Tokyo. Oh my gosh, so good.
How did you go through the process of elimation with the places you picked for Dark Tourist? Was price an issue? Was safety?
What do YOU believe
GIANT process. A LOT of pre production. Lots of balances of safety and trying to get a diverse number of stories and places and people. So many "dark tourist" locations and stories work so well on paper, but on film... they don't. So a lot of work finding stories that worked visually, had people attached that I could bounce off, and also places that would not get us all arrested. There was a moment we all detained on a rooftop, passports taken away, separated and questioned at quite a dodgy police station. We could all hear someone getting slapped a lot and crying down the hallway. Afterwards (it was a long night) everyone thought it was me crying. It wasn't!
What are your favourite three Deftones tracks?
Passenger. You've Seen the Butcher. Be Quiet & Drive.
Hey David, fellow kiwi here. I noticed you liked a few of Hideo Kojima's Instagram posts recently. Pumped for Death Stranding, or just an admirer of Kojima himself?
Death Stranding has been taking up a lot of my time. A lot. Love his games. Metal Gear Solid has been with me through much of my life. He's a maverick.
In your opinion, is it even correct to classify McKamey Manor as a haunted house? It seems more like elective torture.
It's not your classic haunted house, in any sense of the term.
I know you’ve said there currently isn’t anything concrete for a season 2 of Dark Tourist (which was awesome!), but do you have any ideas of what you’d want to check out for a season 2 if given the chance?
I think since Chernobyl aired on HBO there are some really interesting things to look at there. Perfect fusion of insane history and pop culture. I can't get enough of it.
David, you seem like an interesting person to get a beer with and chat. Any chance of seeing you in Tampa for a pint?
I love Tampa! Let's get a beer next year.
I still feel sad about that Kazakh orphanage. How was it for you?
Same. Absolutely the same. Those kids are paying the price of something that had nothing to do with them. Humans are the best but also literally the worst thing that has ever happened.
Hey David, my question isn't about McKamey Manor, but the radiation city in Japan. It looked like pretty much everyone (especially the English girl) regretted going on the tour by the end of it. Do you worry about any adverse health side effects you might experience as a result of visiting?
More concerned about swimming in Atomic lake in Kazakhstan and eating that cute little fish. Me and my team were not in Japan long enough for serious health concerns. IMO it's a different situation for those residents being asked to move back to Tomikoa to live there permanently.
Do you feel the the owner of Mckamey Manor showed restraint in letting you quit early due to being recorded? Was there any particular "scare" that concerned you moreso than others?
I'd say he showed me what he wanted me to see.
what are your thoughts about the mediaworks buyout? Could this be a blessing in disguise to NZ media and revitalise terrestrial/free tv?
Look... normal old TV is on the way out. Just a question of how long it can grasp on for.
Did you imagine you would be here doing this back when you were doing late night pieces for Three News?
I love your Brashford Antiques stuff and the other random investigations you do, keep up the good mahi!
I have never really had a plan. I just try and do what I enjoy and when I start hating it, I leave. Thanks for enjoying my writing!
Approximately how many times have you been confused with David Farrar?
It happens more than you'd think.
Dark tourist is such a brilliant show! Thank you for doing such a brilliant job on it! What was one part of it that you really didn’t enjoy/ worried about when filming? What is one place/ event you would have liked to go to that you didn’t get a chance to go to for the first season?
Thanks, that's so kind. I feel proud of my team, all kiwis. The filming in Cyprus was worrying, just with the political situation there. All in high alert, a lot of precautions.
Two questions - are you a fan of Louis Theroux? And have you had any subsequent tests post your visit to Japan to see if there was any impact on your body given the radiation you were exposed to?
Big fan. He's great.
RE: radiation - I keep an eye on my blood. But the thing is, you can't really tell. Like one day if I get cancer, I will just be like "Oh, I wonder if it was that".
My exposure was short and incredibly low though. Only thing I would not do if I had my life again would be to swim in atomic lake or eat that fish from atomic lake.
The British girl in the Japan episode... did she annoy you in real life as much as she annoys me when watching the show?!
Overall, do you think it’s mentally healthy for people to pursue dark and macabre tourism?
Loved the show and can’t wait to see what you have in store for the future!
It depends on your motivations.
I absolutely love reading your pieces! How did you get into journalism? And also my partner wants to know if you're a vampire...
Lots of working for very little money in a newsroom and volunteering while I was studying in New Zealand, and just being hugely passionate about it all. Trying to find my niche and sharing those things I was drawn to. Total privilege to be able to do that. I have tried to put a bunch of my stuff up here - davidfarrier.com. And no, not a vampire. We all need to die at some point I think.
Hi, i'm a big fan of dark tourist! there's been a lot of controversy around McKamey Manor on social media and many people have commented that this place shouldn't even be legal because it's basically a torture house, where the creator takes pleasure on torturing people while violating their rights as human beings. What's your opinion on this? Thank you! (still waiting on season 2 of dark tourist ahah)
This has always been what McKamey Manor has been. Essentially, there is nothing new here. Current anger on social media - whether correct or not - has been happening in one for or another for years and years and years. I mean, it's what lead me there, I guess. Here I am in New Zealand, and I'd been aware of this outrageous place for over a decade thanks to news headlines and YouTube videos!
Is it true that people who went to MM are not allowed to talk about it with anyone by Russ for X years without his permission?
This is in the same category as his rule of "You cannot swear". It's all mythbuilding.
Scariest films you’ve ever seen? Scariest tv show episodes? Scariest play/ theatre production? (Something done live on stage) Scariest video game? What did you do for Halloween?
Are current politics more scary than McKamey Manor?
The Descent is this super b grade horror that I really rate for scares. If you want a darker kind of scare, "Home" is the best X-Files episode of all time. And if you want a truly shocking shocker then Martyrs is probably my fav horror I pass onto people telling them it's a comedy! Some great NZ stuff too - Housebound is fantastic. Deathgasm is fun. Watching Trump open his mouth.
Any advice for a amateur filmmaker?
Start. Don't wait for someone to pay you or get big resources. Just find a way to start shooting. Or if you can't shoot your story as you have no gear or friends with gear, research the shit out of your story. Find every angle. Know it inside and out. Be ready to go. Be like an annoying bulldog and don't let go
I love Dark Tourist. What location was your favorite? What location disturbed you the most?
I really loved our USA 2 episode, and the stuff around the 'Stans. I found the human fallout from nuclear testing the most disturbing. The orphanage was rough. The people working there inspiring. The kid's attitudes were, too.
Hi David, I've literally just finished watching Dark Tourist, perfect timing! When you went to the Manor, did you ever intend to go inside, or were you just going to try and get some footage for the show? What was going through your head when you first put the onesie on?
I intended to go in. Fully. Then I changed my mind.
Did you find any information about how Mcamey Manor makes a profit?
There's something really strange about how the admission is dog food.
The dogfood is just part of the lore of it all. He had dogs once, now from what I can tell, he doesn't. But you still bring the dogfood.
He's not doing it for money.
When we met him, we was living in a trailer.
Was there ever someone you spoke to in your journeys who really rubbed you the wrong way? One of the people you interviewed?
Only some of the tourists along the journey. Which I was one of, you could argue.
Hey David, hope you're well. Just wanted to ask, are you still into cryptids? I used to love the cryptid factor when they actually uploaded, would be nice to know if you still keep up to date with that stuff.
Love cryptids and that world. Have a lot of love for my podcast buddies. I had to leave the show to go and make Dark Tourist, now distracted with other things. We replaced me with someone much better though, so the podcast is in safe hands (when it's uploaded!)
Is it true that Russ hires actors with violent histories and that guests are forced to take drugs that cause hallucinations?
I think everyone is buying into hectic, unverified gossip way too easily.
Have you met Lorde, and are you a fan of hers?
This is New Zealand, of course we've met. She's great - I think Melodrama was genius.
Are you a John Hawkesberry or Richard Long man? Would ask bout females but Judey would win everytime
More of a Jason Gunn dude, me.
Hey David! I love your work, thanks so much for doing this! My question is, what is Russ like off-camera? Is he the jovial, normal guy he was made out to be in Dark Tourist, or is he more like the monster people accuse him of being?
Jovial! That is what he gave to me.
Who got in touch with Ruban Nielson for the Intro music? Fits perfectly.
Me. He's a friend and one of the most talented musicians I know.
Hi David. Thoughts on the new Tool album now that you've had some time to digest it?
Really enjoying it. I think Pneuma, Invincible and 7empest are my favs.
What was your favorite Dark Tourist episode shot?
Shooting in Indonesia was a dream. Also loved my time in Mexico. Really want to go back there to catch up with some of the people I met there.
What was your general impression of Russ McKamey? Did he seem the same off-camera?
Overall he was really fun and easy to work with. Also though I am very aware that he knew I was making a show for Netflix and my impression is what would go out into the world.
Kia ora David,
first and foremost my partner and I LOVED your show! Beside the really interesting stories I especially enjoyed your Kiwi accent <3 I‘m a Kiwi at heart so I enjoy seeing and hearing one on Netflix.
To my question: why was there no „Oceania“ episode?
I was hoping to see one from NZ and Australia! I know you already said there is no second season planned (yet- I hope this changes!!) but if there will ever be one please please do one about Oceania!!! I miss New Zealand content in big media in general. I know Peter and Taika are doing a great job but I am hoping for more documentaries about Aotearoa.
Thanks for watching. We looked into it, and there were stories to be told, but on balance we went elsewhere. We wanted to make something that had solid stories and was visually compelling, and that just lead us offshore for this particular topic. Of course NZ and Australia had an incredible dark past (just look at their historic and current treatment of indigenous populations).
Would you rather do a second dark tourist season, or a new topic?
A new thing for me. I hope you like it!
I am a future Filmmaker
What are some tips you can give me?
Start filming. Find stories. Write. Meet other people who do what you want to do and hang out. It's a team sport, imo
Hi David, any chance of another season of Short Poppies?
You'd have to ask Rhys, but he is a very busy boy these days!
I'd like to adapt a true story into a narrative. I need to get way better at what I do first, though.
Hey David. Do you come back to NZ much? I been a fan since those odd bits feel-good stories after the late night news lol. Do you have any podcast recommendations?
In The Dark is superb. On the regular I loved the /Filmcast, The Daily, Heavyweight and Reply All.
I move between NZ and the US or wherever current story is taking me. Note: This sounds far more glamorous than it actually is
With the long waiting list of people waiting to get in, where does he keep all the bags of dog food he supposedly gets?
I guess he really likes dog food
Did you get to meet the owner of the Manor? Was he a chill dude or a sadist
Spent 3 days with him. When I wasn't taking part, he was a lot of fun.
To you, what was the most shocking/exciting place you visited? What place was the most special?
Felt endlessly honoured and lucky when in Indonesia.
Shocked by the replica of Noah's Ark in America.
What's your go-to advice for someone aspiring to travel to less-than-safe regions of the globe?
Plan ahead. Read up. Meet people ahead of time. Be smart and never complacent.