Leading up to the Found Footage Festival taking place at Chateau Neuf tomorrow night, we caught up with one of the co-founders of the event, Nick Prueher, for some history. Be sure to catch him and Joe in Klubb on Wednesday night at 7:30pm!

How did this idea first come about?

Joe and I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin called Stoughton and,
apart from our the annual Syttende Mai parade, there wasn’t much going
on. We sort of had to invent our own fun, so we’d spend a lot of time
at charity shops and yard sales looking for stuff to amuse ourselves and
our friends. In 1991, I found a McDonald’s training video for janitors
that was so ridiculous it became something we watched every weekend,
offering a running commentary of jokes and even making our own parody
film based on it. Our next thought was, ‘If there are VHS tapes this
good right under our noses, imagine what else is out there?’ And that
began our quest to look in out-of-the-way places for discarded VHS
tapes. Now our collection of weird videos is over 6,000 tapes and
growing and we make a modest living showing them to people all over
the world.

What is it about watching these otherwise lost moments that we find so
fascinating?

Part of it is voyeuristic. You’re watching these videos that weren’t
meant to be seen in public on a big screen in a room of like-minded
people. But I think there’s also something fascinating about looking
back at these lesser known videotaped moments, some of them
regrettable, because it’s a truer picture of who we are as a people,
warts and wall.

fff_Totally_Tulip

How has the festival evolved since it began in 2004?

Since we tour all over the world now and look everywhere we go for
more videos, the show has become a lot more diverse. It used to be
mostly VHS footage we’d dug up in the Midwest and in New York. Now
it’s from everywhere and what we’ve found is that people everywhere
had bad ideas they wanted to commit to video. The main way it’s
changed is that now we go to great lengths to track down the people
from our favorite videos. In the show we’re bringing to Oslo, we
actually hired a private detective to find a man from one of our
videos. Sure enough, he found the guy and we’ll be playing our meeting
with him at the show.

What is the most absurd VHS you’ve found?

Well, this goes back to the man we hired a detective to find: Frank
Pacholski. Joe and I found an episode of a public access TV show from
Los Angeles called «Dancing with Frank Pacholski» from 1999. In it,
this man appears wearing nothing but an American flag Speedo and a
Lone Ranger mask and dances around to classical music. But that’s not
the weirdest part! The audience watching the man is a semi-circle of
elderly people who look like they do not want to be there. It’s like
watching a train wreck and you can’t look away. The video raises more
questions than it answers and that’s why we had to meet the guy and
get to the bottom of it.

How do you decide which tapes to select for viewing?

Our main criterion is that the videos have to be unintentionally
funny. Whatever the videos were trying to do has to have failed in
some entertaining way. It ultimately comes down to what Joe and I
think is funny, and a lot of times it involves someone with a ton of
ambition but questionable talent. There’s something magical about the
combination, especially unfurled on the big screen.

This will be our first time in Oslo and we’ll be on the hunt for some
Norwegian VHS gems, so if anyone has found anything in or around Oslo,
please bring it to the show. We’d love to include some locally found
footage in our next show in town.