Sometime in 1987, two of my friends and I set up a silver video camera about the size of a microwave, donned some spandex-and-feather dance recital costumes (one of which resembled a duck), hit play on the Casio boom box and created a series of music videos for George Michael and Madonna songs in the carpeted end of their basement. Because it was 1987, we called it “Dance Mania,” and because were were 5, we thought it was greatest thing ever.
If this video turned up now, I’d probably be able to laugh for a second before I had to shut my eyes. Everybody born pre-YouTube has those videos, but likely assumes they’ll never see them. I have to believe that kids, teens and adults of 2010 are savvier, or at least realize that to hit “record” is to enter a contract with millions of potential viewers.
That’s why the Found Footage Festival, a one-night event coming to the Plaza Theatre on Feb. 4, is really a museum to another time — when we recorded family vacations, community speeches, music videos and god knows what else, and believed the audience to be ourselves, the family we could con into watching and the VCRs we left them sitting in. The whole thing feels like Found magazine for the multimedia-inclined.
The festival creators scour thrift stores, closets, Dumpsters, all the best places to store old VHS tapes, and search them for the unintentionally funny. They string it together into 90 minutes and there it is: a night of entertainment, one I can only hope contains no faces I recognize.
Here’s a fun little interview with co-founder Nick Prueher by AJCer Katie Leslie, “Found Footage Festival highlights sins of past.”
And another one from National Public Radio, “Festival dusts off forgotten, funny video.”
And here’s a promo video for the festival with some absolutely not safe for work language:
Want to go? The Found Footage Festival will have three showings at two Georgia locations this week.
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