The Found Footage Festival, the acclaimed touring showcase of odd and hilarious found videos, returns to Scotland this month, with shows in Edinburgh and Glasgow showing off their new line-up of found video clips.
The Found Footage Festival is a one-of-a-kind event showcasing videos found at garage sales and thrift stores and in warehouses and dumpsters throughout North America. From the curiously-produced industrial training video to the forsaken home movie, the Found Footage Festival resurrects these forgotten treasures and serves them up in a lively celebration of all things found.
Among the new clips featured in the 2014 program:
- A new exercise video montage featuring a Christmas-themed workout, a martial arts fitness regimen called “Tiger Moves,” and a tape called “Butt Camp”
- Newly unearthed footage of the world’s most obnoxious home shopping hosts, John & Johnny (c. 1987), and the long-awaited reunion orchestrated by the FFF curators
- Exclusive footage of the Chef Keith news prank the curators pulled on news stations in the Midwest over the holidays.
- A bizarre instructional video from 1997 with the redundant title, “How to Have Cybersex on the Internet”
Co-founder Nick Prueher spoke to ReelScotland ahead of 2013’s Scottish visit, explaining more about the Found Footage Festival:
ReelScotland: When did you first hit upon the idea of collecting video tapes?
Nick Prueher: I was a freshman in high school and I found a training video for janitors in the break room of the McDonald’s where I was working. Out of boredom, I popped it in the VCR and I could not believe what I saw. It was the most ridiculous, over-the-top, insulting dumb video I had ever seen.
My first thought was, “This cannot stay in the break room. It needs to be seen by the world!” And indeed, the video was big hit with my friends and really compelled us to start looking in other out-of-the-way places for other videos that might be lying around. Now, 21 years later, our collection is over 6000 VHS tapes and continues to grow.
At what point did you realise you had enough titles to create a festival?
In 2004, Joe [Pickett] and I were making a feature length documentary called Dirty Country and we were having trouble raising money for it. Really, the only thing of value we had was our prized collection of videotapes that we would screen to friends, and we certainly were not going to sell it, so we thought, “Let’s screen our best videos in public and see if anybody shows up”.
It was at the back of this bar in New York that had about 50 seats and a small screen, and for whatever reason, about 200 people showed up. That’s when we realised we might be on to something.
What’s the strangest title you’ve discovered?
We found one video that was simply labeled “Something’s Happening!” and it turned out to be a local television chat show from Oakland, California where a man named Arthur Bloom told the host all about this miracle health cure he’d discovered.
He was convinced that the mucous in our mouths was toxic and was killing us and his cure, which he refers to as “extracting death from the mouth,” involves spraying grape juice in your mouth with a spray bottle and spitting the purple foam into a coffee filter, which he then burns with a blowtorch to prove how toxic it is. It is very strange but I have to say, it lives up to the title on the video, because something is definitely happening in that show.
Why are people are so fond of VHS when we now have Blu-rays and downloads?
For a lot of people, including us, VHS has a strong nostalgic pull because it’s the format we grew up with. In the same way that record collectors appreciate all the hisses and pops and imperfections of vinyl, we really like all the tracking problems, washed-out colours and general clunkiness of VHS. Especially as more and more content moves to streaming and online methods of distribution, we clamor to have a tangible piece of media that you can hold in your hand.