Interview: Found Footage Festival

Found Footage Festival

I first saw the Found Footage Festival when they came to the Soho Theatre last year. You can read my review here. They are back this year with a new selection of obscure clips to make you cringe and laugh at the same time. The tour ends at the Leicester Square Theatre as part of the Brooklyn Brewery Mash Festival, which mixes beer, food and comedy. Among the delights promised at these latest FFF gigs are the following:

• 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”

Beyond The Joke caught up with FFF's Nick Prueher and asked him a few questions... 

BTJ: This show is different because you actually have an English clip for the first time - how did that come about?

Nick Prueher: We are very exciting because we actually have a British video to show off this time around. I don't want to give too much away, but we found it at a charity shop in London last year and it's a carriage driving instructional video. The title is what really sold us: "Between the Shafts." We'll be showing deconstructing it as part of this year's VHS Cover Slideshow.

BTJ: Do you think there is a difference between what Brits and Americans stick in their garages and junk shops? 

NP: There is a bit of a difference, yes. For example, we find a lot more cricket bloopers and Cliff Richard videos in the UK, whereas in America it's baseball bloopers and David Hasselhoff. Also, at least in the charity shops we've been to, there are some decent clothes that have been well organized. Most of the thrift stores we go to in the States are unfiltered garbage haphazardly tossed on shelves. For our purposes, it's actually easier to sort through the garbage than the well curated stuff.

BTJ: You just about predated YouTube - has Youtube helped what you do or challenged it, or do you feel you are doing something different – I guess maybe you edit and choose what to feature whereas anything legal can be on youtube?

NP: We don't take any videos from the internet - they're all on all physical media that's been found somewhere - and we weren't sure how YouTube would affect the show when it started getting going. But if anything it's helped the show. With such a plethora of material out there - some good, most bad - I think people appreciate the role of curators now more than ever. That's really where we come in, separating the wheat from the chaff and only serving up the best stuff.

The other, perhaps bigger, reason it's helped is that our show holds a candle for the good old days where you'd sit around in a room with your friends and watch stuff together. There's a big difference between watching a funny video on a little two-inch window on your laptop at work and watching it on the big screen in a dark room full of people drinking beer. We try to recreate that communal experience every night at the show and I think that's why people keep coming back.

BTJ: Have you had interesting contributions from other countries or is the British video your first international addition?

NP: We've certainly had our fair share of Canadian videos in the show--a hockey team music video and things like that--but I don't really count that as international. One of our big goals as we enter our second decade is to expand the show and made an all-international edition. We are definitely searching far and wide for new videos while we're on tour here in the UK, but we're only here for two weeks. That's why we'd encourage who's found videos where they live in England to please bring them to the show or send them to us via our website (

BTJ: Can you keep doing this for ever? I guess when you started a lot were on VHS, are they now on DVD? I suppose they will run out one day as everything goes digital?

NP: It does worry us that VHS is a non-renewable resource, so eventually we will find all the tapes. We're not proud of this but we have dabbled in DVD lately. Before a show in Memphis, Tennessee last year we stopped at a thrift store and found a DVD from 2003 called "Sing Like the King." It was an instructional video for Elvis impersonators, hosted by an Elvis impersonators--too good to pass up. It's encouraging to know that, even the formats may change, the bad ideas are here to stay, and that means we'll be doing this show indefinitely.

For full tour dates click on 'next' below on the right.

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