I was looking around on the file server just now and I just happened to have FOUND this interview with Found Footage co-creator Nick Prueher done written and enacted by Synthesis correspondent Landon Moblad. The Festival plays Chico this weekend and then moves East. For dates check out their Myspace here.
In a funny way, the Found Footage Festival is somewhat of an inspiring shaggy dog success story. In this YouTube era, when you can get together and swap clip recommendations with friends until one of you calls â€œuncle,â€ here we have two average dudes making a living touring videos of maniacal RV salesmen, fast food training tutorials and nonsensical cable access shows. And not even these desolate times can slow them down.
â€œWe weren’t quite sure if people would come out to watch stupid videos in this economy,â€ co-creator Nick Prueher joked from his home base in New York City, where he works as an assistant for the Colbert Report. â€œBut so far so good.â€
For Prueher and his partner in crime, Joe Pickett, it’s all about the commitment to the project and love for what they’re doing that has enabled them to tour all over the country, providing audiences with an hour and a half’s worth of laughs that tops anything Hollywood is spitting out these days.
Over the past five years, Prueher and Pickett have spent countless hours of their time combing thrift stores and garage sales, sifting through trash and following audience leads to find weird, awkward, funny or plain idiotic videos. More often than not, the clips wind up being all of these at once. The show’s recent success has led to an increasing number of fan-submitted contributions, which is something Prueher and Pickett have welcomed with open arms.
â€œThe new show is probably 40-50 percent videos other people have given us,â€ Prueher said. â€œSo much of our job is not only digging through the dumpsters and finding all these videos but also watching all of them. So when someone kind of does all that for us, it’s like Christmas morning.â€
One such video, called â€œSomething’s Happening,â€ was sent anonymously from Denver and depicts a wretched man in a shoddy, homemade infomercial informing viewers how to get rid of mucus in their mouth. The big secret? Grape juice. What follows is too outrageous to ruin for those planning to attend the show.
â€œThat one is my personal favorite because your jaw just kind of drops,â€ Prueher said. â€œWe always like to include one of those â€˜what the fuck’ clips and that is this year’s.â€
Now that the show has stabilized itself as a draw all over the country, Prueher and Pickett have moved on to other endeavors, such as promoting Dirty Country, a film they debuted at South by Southwest back in 2007. The documentary follows Larry Pierce, an unknown truck stop troubadour and all around sleazy old man who has penned hundreds of songs including â€œGood Hard Screwing,â€ â€œWe Screwed In the Rainâ€ and â€œScrew Your Brains Out (One Night Stand).â€
â€œ12 years ago, we were looking for something to entertain us on the road,â€ Prueher said. â€œIf you see something called Songs for Studs, you buy it.â€
The film follows Pierce as he begins to gain a bit more notoriety for his filthy repertoire, eventually winding up on the Howard Stern Show.
â€œIt’s a great all-American story,â€ Prueher said. â€œGoing from total obscurity to relative obscurity.â€
One of the great things about the Found Footage Festival is the amount of work put into getting back stories and somehow tracking down many of the actors and real people from the tapes themselves. One of the videos in this year’s edition is an ad for a so-called â€œLaughing Yogi,â€ which with a clip of a hysterically laughing monk, is pretty much exactly what you might expect. Prueher and Pickett found him in Los Angeles and got him out to one of their shows, only to see him sit in the front row without letting out a single laugh.
â€œPretty much the worst audience member ever,â€ Prueher said.
One of the Internet’s most infamous clips, helped made popular by the Found Footage Festival, is of Jack Rebney, a Winnebago salesman on the brink with the patience of a gnat and tongue of a Slavic pirate. If you haven’t seen it, you should probably put this paper down and find it online immediately. But after years of searching and with the help of a private investigator and a documentary filmmaker (whose film, Winnebago Man, debuted this year at South by Southwest), Prueher and Pickett found Rebney living in seclusion in Northern California. Eventually, they talked him into making an appearance at a show in San Francisco. True to form, Rebney was prickly at first. By the end of the show, however, Prueher saw a smile come across his face at the amount of laughter his previous follies had brought to people.
â€œWe compared it to the Grinch, when his heart grew to 10 times the size,â€ he said.
At their shows, watching Prueher and Pickett quip back and forth with each other and excitedly describe the upcoming clips, you can tell they’re getting just as much of a kick out of all of it as their audience.
â€œPart of the fun of all this is kind of being the tour guides through this world we’ve uncovered.â€
I’ll take that over watching videos on my laptop any day.
Tags: cable access, Colbert Report, countless hours, dudes, dumpsters, fast food, file server, food training, funny way, garage sales, landon, laughs, MySpace, partner in crime, salesmen, shaggy dog, sifting through, stupid videos, success story, thrift stores