When viewed in a dingy break room, there is possibly nothing more depressing, nothing more alienating than a CVS employee training video. But in the context of the Found Footage Festival, it becomes a shared — if not still slightly uncomfortable — piece of obscure comedy.
“It feels more fun, or more subversive, to see this stuff that was never meant to be seen in public — sometimes never meant to be seen at all — on the big screen,” says Nick Prueher, who hosts the screenings along with Joe Pickett. “It’s like everyone’s in on the joke except the makers.”
While on tour, the guys have learned a thing or two about where to find a city’s most embarrassing recordings.
“Salvation Armys, in general, are far superior to Goodwills,” says Prueher. “At Goodwill, you’ll mostly find commercially released movies. Somebody’s there to screen out the stuff they don’t think is worth putting on the sales floor. At Salvation Army, I think it just goes right out to the shelves.”
Although it would be easy to curate the festival with the help of YouTube, Prueher relies on garage sales, thrift stores and promising dumpsters to supply the exercise videos, commercial outtakes, family vacation footage and ventriloquism how-to videos. “We’re really stubbornly old school about that — it needs to be physically found,” he says. “We want personal stories about where it’s been found. We like that clunky, old-school, analog charm.”
Luckily, there’s no shortage of material. “In general, it has to be stuff that’s unintentionally funny — whatever it’s trying to do, it’s got to fail in a colossal way,” he says. “Luckily for us, there’s a lot of videos out there like that.”