http://youtu.be/a7AZVRqmXWI Every day, countless Christmas sweaters, plaid blazers and Zubaz pants are snatched up in thrift stores by people looking to take a little bit of the past home with them. Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett took secondhand finds to the next level when they started the Found Footage Festival in 2004. This unique festival experience will be coming to the Zinema 2 on Sept. 20 for a one-night, once-in-a-lifetime show.
Prueher said he and Pickett had been making a documentary called “Dirty Country” and they needed money to complete it.
“We applied for grants but just didn’t get any. So we thought, ‘How can we make some money and finish our documentary?’” Prueher said. “We thought, well, we have this huge collection of found VHS tapes, and our friends seemed to like it. So what if we just rented out the back of a bar in Manhattan and show our clips and make it a comedy show.”
The two men started collecting videotapes in 1991 after finding a McDonald’s training video at a store in Wisconsin. Since then, they continued to build their collection of found footage from garage sales, thrift stores and dumpsters all while building their careers.
“We figured we’d have friends of friends in the audience. But people really latched onto it for whatever reason,” Prueher said. “This was in 2004. I think it was just at the right time. This was pre-YouTube, and people hadn’t seen anything like it.”
Pickett is a writer and director and Prueher has worked for David Letterman and written for The Onion and Entertainment Weekly. With such jobs in the comedy industry and a solid collection of clips behind them, the show is guaranteed to bring more than a few laughs.
“Since we grew up watching bad television and videos and making jokes about it, it’s sort of the thing we trained our whole lives to do,” Prueher said. “It’s the thing we’re most uniquely qualified for.”
Pickett and Prueher will provide the commentary for the show, blending “Tosh.0” and “America’s Funniest Home Videos” into a fresh live theater experience.
“A lot of times the videos just speak for themselves and we don’t need to say anything,” Prueher said.
This year’s festival features a wide variety of clips from across the country, including a 1986 video about ferret care found in Minnesota last year. The illustrious lineup also features tapes like “The Sexy Treadmill Workout,” a woman obsessed with craft sponging and a special group of clips from classrooms in the 60s and 70s curated by Skip Elsheimer of A/V Geeks.
“This is stuff that you can’t see anywhere else, including online,” Prueher said. “These are videos that we physically found. I think a lot of people think, ‘Oh it’s funny YouTube clips.’ But it’s stuff that you can’t see on YouTube.”
The Found Film Festival has sold out hundreds of shows across North America and been featured in The New York and Los Angeles Times. Though the show will only be in town for one night, the FFF can be found twice a week on The Onion’s A.V. Club website as well as in the documentary “Winnebago Man” and in the new book “VHS: Absurd, Odd and Ridiculous Relics from the Videotape Era.” Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door or in advance at www.foundfootagefest.com.
BY ABBY ROSEN