The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Thursday, November 19, 2009 - 3B
Giving thanks for celebs
Found Footage Festival founders Nick Prueher and Joe Picket have been collecting tapes since high school.
Pric ess ootage
The Found Footage
decades worth of
hilarious VHS clips
By KAVI SHEKHAR PANDEY
Daily Arts Writer
The age of the VHS tape is
long gone. Hell, even DVDs are
out by Blu-ray Found
discs and direct Footage
downloads. But Festa
chance to expe- Saturday,
rience the joys of 9:15 p.m.
those jet-black, At the Michigan
hunks of plastic
when the Found Footage Festival
rolls into Ann Arbor on Saturday.
Now in its fifth year, the Found
Footage Festival is a showcase of
odd, unintentionally hilarious
clips taken from unearthed VHS
tapes. Festival co-founders Nick
Prueher and Joe Pickett take the
festival around the country annu-
ally, presenting a brand new set of
videos each year.
As Prueher explains, the festi-
val arose from nothing more than
an amusing hobby he and Pickett
shared in high school.
"We found a (training) video
for custodians in a break room in a
McDonalds where I was working
in high school and it was it was
just so extraordinarily dumb and
insultingwith bad production val-
ues - it was like the perfect storm
of stupid videos," Prueher says.
"(Joe and I) became obsessed
with this video and started show-
ing it to friends and making our
running commentary along with
it," he elaborates.
It became apparent to the duo
that their discovery of a moronic
training video was not an isolated
incident - the world was littered
with bizarrely comical videos.
Thus began Prueher and Pickett's
quest to search every thrift store,
pawn shop, garage sale and gar-
bage can for discarded VHS tapes.
"Over the years we amassed
this collection, and five years ago
we decided to go on the road with
it and make it a comedy show,"
But the festival is more than
just a visual procession of video-
tape footage. Prueher describes
the show as a "guided tour"
through the anthology of videos
he and Pickett have found.
"We explain how we found all
the videos, putting them in con-
text, and during the videos we
talk over them, making smartass
remarks whenever applicable,"
Prueher says, cuing the trade-
mark humor of "Mystery Science
Examples of these videos can
be seen on the Found Footage Fes-
tival website. Highlights include
"How to Seduce Women Through
Hypnosis," an unintentional date-
rape training guide, the "Mighty
Morphin Power Rangers Fan Club
Video," where the show's actors
share their lives' passions and
"How to be a Real Man," a rebel-
lious teenager's path to Jesus that
includes the classic line, "Pearl
Jam - you're toe jam!"
One of the most memorable
videos, titled "At Home with
English," features a small, mus-
tached man attempting to teach
non-English speakers common
English phrases through wild
gesticulation and extreme enun-
ciation. Like most footage in the
collection, the only thing funnier
than the video itself is the story of
how it was discovered.
"We were in Denver last year
doing a show and we met this guy
- kind of a weird haircut, kind of
a weird guy, and he said 'I collect
videos too, I'll show you some of
my collection,' " Prueher tells it.
"We go over to his place, this
bright pink house in the middle
of all these suburban houses in
Denver. Inside, he's got pictures
of meat on the wall and paintings
of clowns - he was like the real-
life Pee Wee Herman. We sat on
his zebra-print couch until four in
the morning as he popped in tape
after tape to show us his collec-
tion - one of (the tapes) was 'At
Home with English."'
Another priceless piece of foot-
age was given to Pickett and Prue-
her by none other than comedian
David Cross ("Arrested Develop-
ment"). The 1987 tape, titled
"Video Mates," contains 90 awk-
ward minutes of eccentric men
describing their best qualities in
hopes of landing a date. For the
purposes of the festival, though,
the tape was unfortunately
trimmed to a more appropriate
"We cut together our favorite
guys, our favorite moments into a
four-minute montage and we feel
like we've barely scratched the
surface of what's on that tape,"
For burgeoning collectors of
wacky videos, tracking down the
best "lost" VHS tapes involves
more than just random luck.
"The local thrift stores are
sometimes the best, but of the
chain stores, Salvation Army i:
head and shoulders above Good
Will and St. Vincent de Paul's -
they just don't screen the videos
"(When Salvation Army) gets
a box of tapes, they just stick that
box right out there on the floor
and we're there to scoop it up," he
As part of their travel itiner-
ary, Prueher and Pickett plan on
paying visits to Ann Arbor thrift
stores before the show. So if you
see two men scouring through the
VHS tape bin at Salvation Army,
you'll know why.
In a sense, Prueher and Pickett
are the excavators of these VHS
artifacts, resurfacing comedic
treasures for new generations to
see harebrained creations of yore.
The tapes should also provide
nostalgia for those raised in the
pre-YouTube period of techno-
Eventually, the day will arrive
when all traces of VHS tapes
disappear, but the Found Foot-
age Festival will simply adapt to
whatever technologies become
"Who knows, maybe we'll be
finding hard drives at thrift stores
in 15 years and mining stuff from
that," Prueher jokes.
In this period of rapid media
communication, people may act
more reserved on camera, quite
aware that they are living under
a microscope - a single recorded
gaffe can lead to millions of online
views before the sun goes down.
But Prueher isn't worried about
depleting his inventory of foot-
ages just yet.
"The production values are
getting slicker and people have
become more savvy, but the bad
ideas don't ever change. If people
with bad ideas still have access to
video equipment then we're in no
danger of running out of mate-
rial," he says.
Prueher and Pickett want to
tell everyone coming to the show
to bring any appealing pieces of
footage so that the founders can
potentially include the clips in
future iterations of the festival.
"We encourage anybody who
comes to the show to donate to
the cause ... we always love meet-
ing people and hearing the stories
of how they found stuff," Prueher
says. "That's how we keep the
you hear that noise? The
distinct tween-age squeal
bordering between ado-
lock your doors
just yet, there's
a likely explana-
tion for all of
this: The newest
installment of SASHA
the "Twilight" RESENDE
saga is opening
in theaters tonight at midnight.
As this celebrity-trash spiel
goes to print, lonely teenage girls
across the country are donning
their tackiest Edward Cullen
T-shirts and abusing Kristen Stew-
art voodoo dolls in preparation
for the much-talked about pre-
miere of"Twilight: New Moon."
Exactly why this series - which
documents a hilariously contrived
romance between a sparkly vam-
pire and an awkward high school
girl - has been such a monster hit
among Twihards is beyond me.
The only thing I am sure of is that
Robert Pattinson, the male star
of the series, will have to hire 12
extra bodyguards to protect him-
self from all the underage girls and
sexually frustrated women who
will attempt to pull off his limbs
to take home a souvenir from the
film's red carpet premiere.
On the topic of media-blitz
tours, Sarah Palin is out on the
talk show circuit promoting her
"memoir," the hastily ghostwrit-
ten "Going Rogue." Can you
believe this literary extrardinaire
reportedly received upwards of
$5 million as an advance for her
underdeveloped musings and
insults? No wonder the publish-
ing industry is in such bad shape.
While Palin was crying to Oprah
and Barbara Walters about her
daughter Bristol's baby-mama
woes, Levi Johnston - the Alas-
kan hunk who knocked up Palin's
teenage spawn - was shedding his
moose-skin garments for a scan-
dalous Playgirl spread. It's amaz-
ing to think that a little more than
12 months ago this woman was
vying to be a heartbeat away from
Sarah Palin isn't the only Bible-
thumping conservative darling
pushing an illiterate memoir these
days. Former Miss California Car-
rie Prejean, a woman who should
have lost all media relevancy
exactly 15 minutes after Perez
Tune into Michigan Daily
Radio on WCBN-FM-Ann
Arbor 88.3 FM every Tuesday
and Thursday at 6 p.m.
to his p
et to m
cle is th
to get h
or her opinion about gay Duhamel. Poor Fergz. Regardless
ge, is hawking her own nar- of whether the skeezy allegations
rnd using the opportunity are true, these are hardly the
tion herself as a liberal rumors a newlywed wants to hear
martyr. To that end, Prejean in the months after her fairy-tale
y freaked out on Larry King wedding. Perhaps part of the prob-
hen the King of Softball lem stems from a recent confession
ons was unsatisfied with the singer made in the pages of
blicist-approved responses The Advocate, where she claimed
redictably ordinary queries. her therapist had to teach her the
bad this Barbie look-alike technicalities of infidelity. Appar-
nmany skeletons in her clos- ently, it's not really cheating if it
ake a convincing campaign happens out of state with someone
over girl of Christianity. of the same sex or if you paid for a
Prejean's former boyfriends lap dance a few hours prior.
ently been peddling up to Marital infidelity is gloomy.
ifferent sex videos starring Let's move onto a topic everybody
nti-Gay Marriage. While enjoys, or at the very least can
y partners tying the knot is appreciate reading about: celeb-
rsible to Prejean's sensibili- rity drug use! If there's one thing
e contends that pageant- that fame and fortune proves,
zed boob jobs and solo sex it's that access to money leads to
re A-OK with Jesus. The boredom, and boredom inevitably
nsettling part of this deba- leads to experimentation. The
tat Prejean's own mother latest trashy confessional comes
portedly with her daughter from Harry Potter star Daniel
r lawyer's office as the tapes Radcliffe, who allegedly had a gig-
layed. They're going to have gle-fest at a recent London party,
kward Thanksgiving. where he proclaimed, "I LOVE
ing on to more salacious WEEEEEED!" I'll refrain from
drama, Michael Lohan calling him Harry Pothead from
ering further support now on, because that title already
Worst Father of the Year belongs to Prince Harry.
Another more disturbing claim
comes from former tennis great
Larry Potter: Andre Agassi, who recently admit-
ted that he was high on crystal
cio W E EED." meth for the better part of the late
'90s. As unsettling as this image
may be, it pales in comparison to
Daddy Lohan has been Agassi's other allegation: that his
cording his tragic phone famous locks were fake and that a
sations with his troubled weave covered his balding head.
er Lindsay. If that wasn't There's almost nothing I can do
ing enough, he has been to erase the image of his synthetic
the tapes to the media, blonde strands flying across the
uently revealing that Lindz tennis court.
recial friends" with the late As we enter the holiday season
Ledger in the weeks before and begin to look back at what
th. Her dad claims that he 2009 has given us, we must all
leaking these private con- remember to thank all of the enter-
ons to encourage Lindsay tainment our favorite celebrities
elp for her chemical and have given us. Whether they be
nal issues. It's truly fitting purity ring-touting role models or
chael Lohan and father-of- booze-drenched trainwrecks, the
on Gosselin have been pho- proud parent of octuplets or the
hed numerous times during embarrassed mother of yet another
aydates, because neither panty-less starlet, we should thank
above selling out his own our tabloid fodder. Their triumphs
n for media exposure. and failures allow us to look
alicious Black Eyed Peas beyond our everyday struggles and
oman Fergie-Ferg is also unanimously agree, "Wow, these
ring that family life isn't celebrities are totally shameless."
drops and diamond rings. And for that, I am thankful.
y-hungry exotic dancer
y gushed to the National
er about a tawdry one-night
ith Fergie's new hubby Josh
Resende is hiding from the Twihards.
To tell her it's safe to come out,
e-mail her at email@example.com.
S U D O K Ull
WE'VE BEEN TO THE DINER
* IN 'DOLPHIN OLYMPICS 2.'
WRITE FOR DAILY ARTS.
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for an application.