The thoroughly entertaining Found Footage Festival is headed back to Minneapolis, once again to bring you some of the funniest head-scratching oddities that were recorded and produced for the VHS video. Founders Joe Pickett (The Onion) and Nick Prueher (Late Night with David Letterman) frequent thrift stores, garage sales, dumpsters, and even submissions from fans; and travel across the country to showcase the most absurd and zaniest footage while adding commentary to each video segment in their live show. However, this time around, they have teamed up with FOUND Magazine; the two will go toe-to-toe to determine whether found notes or found videos will reign supreme this Monday at the Heights Theatre.
The Found Footage Festival was founded in New York in 2004 and has been selling out shows across the U.S. and Canada ever since. I first got wind of FFF when their Jack Rebney video, “Jack Rebney: The angriest man in the world!” premiered online and became a huge Internet success, which then led to a documentary film, Winnebago Man, that played festivals and opened theatrically across the U.S and Minneapolis in 2010. They found the video of Jack Rebney, which is over 20 years old now, and played it on their tour; it wasn’t long after they started screening the segment in which documentarian Ben Steinbauer went out to look for Rebney and ask him about that video. If you’ve never seen the Jack Rebney video, I highly recommend you watch it so you can get an idea of what videos Pickett and Prueher find and present at their screenings. But you could probably dig and find old VHS cassettes of your or your parents’ own collections and find how-to instructional videos, infomercials, and creepy seminars. These tapes are gold for FFF.
FOUND Magazine was founded in Chicago and is an annual magazine spotlighting letters and notes that are found on the ground, in the streets or just left randomly wherever, and are then mailed in by the finders and are put in the magazine that is edited and assembled by Davy Rothbart, who is a frequent contributor to NPR’s This American Life. Each year, Davy and his brother Peter, a Seattle-based musician, take their show on the road: Davy reads his favorite found items and Peter plays songs based on the found material. FOUND Magazine is a fascinating and popular experiment that yields some cringe-inducing, provocative, and without a doubt hilarious finds.
It may sound like to Frank Warren’s popular PostSecret books, for which he would leave or pass out postcards to strangers and ask them to mail back anonymous confessions to him; he has turned all these postcards into five best-selling books since 2005. I’ve always wondered if people turning in these postcards were expressing true thoughts or statements. With FOUND, the hard-drawn cartoons or pictures, emails, letters, or notes, seem to be fact, but how can one tell? Either way, FOUND is still something similar to not turning your heard at the sight of a car-crash or drivers slowing down on the freeway to look at the accident. It also brings to mind seeing a friend wiping out running or trying to catch a baseball at the fence, especially if he or she dives over the wall and land on his or her head. As long as it doesn’t require a hospital visit, you can have a laugh over the incident and it will provide many years of further entertainment. It does have a curiosity factor that many of us, myself included are drawn to, and reveals the desperation, insecurity, and loneliness that are endemic to the human race. At the end of going through an issue of FOUND Magazine, I find myself laughing or surprised at people’s confessions and I wonder how bright our future is.
I watched a FFF DVD that was sent to me in advance from a show that was filmed at the Oriental Theater in Milwaukee; some of the highlights included the basics on ventriloquism, public access television shows, and a video on how to hypnotize others. From the evidence I saw, it’s hard to decide if I enjoy side the found footage or found written material more. Needless to say, it should be an entertaining night where videos on how to rent a friend and make a monthly budget might cause you to believe that, indeed, truth is stranger than fiction.