About The Film

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942994_10151730152043344_1323855859_nTHE JOURNEY OF “CUDDLE” 

By: Jason O’Brien, Director

My friend Tracy Gilliom, a facilitator of Cuddle Parties in my home town of Birmingham, Alabama, told me in the summer of 2013 that she was going to start hosting them again, and it reminded me of an idea I had a few years before when she had first mentioned cuddle parties to me. I had never heard of them and was immediately fascinated by the concept, and felt that this would be a perfect subject for a documentary, especially as I researched some more and discovered that not a lot of people had heard of them, and for those that had, there was a great deal of misconception and preconceived ideas about what they were. So I knew the time was now to make that documentary.

As I was beginning interviews in Birmingham in September of 2013, I stumbled across a Facebook post from a friend up in Madison, Wisconsin, that mentioned a place called The Snuggle House and the difficulties they were having in opening this one-on-one snuggling business. I had never heard of services like that one, and I immediately thought that this film should be much more than just about cuddle parties. I delved even further into research and saw that a movement was underway, with businesses around the country opening up offering cuddle services or therapy, and there was a definite struggle for mainstream acceptance and understanding. Just about that time, I lost my corporate job when my position was phased out, and I knew it was a sign for what I needed to do.

I packed up my equipment, and hit the road for Madison, Wisconsin, arriving in mid October just as The Snuggle House was deep in the midst of the controversy with the City Attorney, and working hard to open despite all the concerns about it being a front for prostitution. While I was filming events in Madison, I did even more research, and realized I needed to cover even more places around the country, to provide a complete portrait of what these services offer and how it’s growing so differently and yet so unified around the world.

By November, I was in snowy Boulder, Colorado, where I filmed some of the most amazing footage I would capture, at a snuggle service called “Be The Love You Are.” Two weeks later, I was in San Francisco to meet and film the founder of “Cuddle Therapy”, Travis Sigley, as well as Marcia Baczynski, one of the original co-founders of “Cuddle Party.” And two weeks after that, I braved the crazy 2013 winter in New York, first with a visit to Rochester, where I interviewed one of the innovators of the one-on-one snuggling business, Jackie Samuels, at the Snuggery, followed by a trip back to Manhattan, where Ali C at “Cuddle U NYC” was just getting her cuddle business started … part of a new group of people such as Samantha Hess in Portland, Oregon who are not only launching these new businesses, but getting incredible media attention and a huge number of clients as well.

I believe there are some movies that find you, movies that you were destined to make. The journey I took with this film and the people I met through the making of this film saved me during a time of great stress after the loss of my job, and allowed me to embrace being a filmmaker FULLY for really the first time.

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