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Screen savers: Festival finds humor in discarded videos - Brooklyn Paper

Screen savers: Festival finds humor in discarded videos

View masters: Found Footage Festival founders Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett have amassed more than 6,000 VHS tapes from which they cull their shows.
Found Footage Festival

They’ve found the funny.

A pair of found-footage connoisseurs are coming to the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Aug. 20 with a treasure trove of unintentionally funny videos rescued from landfills. The humor comes in part from the films being taken wildly, gloriously out of context, says one organizer.

“Most of our films are not intended for mass audiences, but something magical happens when you put 200 people in front of a training video meant to be watched in a break room,” said Joe Pickett of Park Slope, who founded the festival along with a childhood friend.

The Found Footage Festival is a showcase of weird, funny, and downright bizarre snippets of video that the organizers have found. Pickett and his friend Nick Prueher edit the videos for time, curate them into themes, and intersperse the videos with commentary and even interviews with video subjects they have managed to track down.

The theme for the upcoming show is “weirdos,” which Pickett insists is meant with the utmost affection and respect for people like the guy who made a “virtual buddy” — a video of taped conversations for lonely TV viewers.

“I’m talking about people with a crazy idea who is ambitious enough to do it,” he said. “Thank God for weirdos! Weirdos make the world go ’round.”

The Festival has humble origins in the high school delinquency of Pickett and Prueher, who laughed at a stolen McDonald’s training tape that portrayed happy employees cheerfully cleaning toilets. Pickett later knicked a stack of instructional tapes from at a chain video store, and things spiralled from there, leading to a festival with 120 tour dates around the world last year.

“It’s both a passion project and a full-time job,” Pickett said. “It’s a dream come true, but I’ll complain about it to anyone who listens. I have a hard time explaining it to my parents.”

Found Footage Festival at Brooklyn Academy of Music (30 Lafayette Ave. between St. Felix Street and Ashland Place in Fort Greene, www.foundfootagefest.com) Aug. 20 at 7:30 pm. $14.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at nhurowitz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz

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