Sixth-annual film fest brings both lost and found film shorts to Main Street Landing

Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett want the video of that cable access show your mom had in the ‘80s.The pair of friends will host the Found Footage Festival together, collecting kitschy VHS tapes and putting them together into a show that they bring on tour around the country.Prueher and Pickett started collecting funny videotapes years ago, after Prueher came across a training video for McDonald’s custodians.”It was so dumb and so insultingly bad and I couldn’t stop showing it to people,” Prueher said.The McDonald’s tape sparked Prueher and Pickett’s interests and gave them the idea to seek out other overlooked videos.”That got us to thinking that there must be more ridiculous videos out there collecting dust, waiting to be discovered,” Prueher said. “Over the years, we started a collection.”Even if the primary goal is humor, saving this footage that would otherwise probably never be watched, that says something about day-to-day humanity, is another goal of the Festival.While Prueher and Pickett don’t alter the content of the videos, they do cut them for time’s sake and sometimes make montages.”Often when we’re sorting through the videos we find categories,” Prueher said. “We have one in here called cartoons, which is Saturday morning cartoons from the ‘80s and ‘90s.”Some videos stand on their own, however, such as one heavy metal home movie from the 1980s.”It’s a bunch of shirtless dudes screaming,” Prueher said. “We feel that this one didn’t need much help — it’s good on its own.”The use of found footage isn’t a new idea — the Found Footage Festival is a humorous take on a tradition of using discovered footage in the film world.”There is a precedent and long history of found footage films,” film professor Deborah Ellis said.”It’s also a little different [from] the impulse that informs experimental and documentary filmmakers who use found footage as an aesthetic choice.”Prueher and Pickett don’t pretend that they’re trying to be avant garde with their festival.”We certainly don’t have any lofty ambitions about being artistic or looking at humanity in a different light or anything like that,” Prueher said.Most of the footage that Prueher and Pickett use is found in thrift stores.While they do scour local thrift shops as they travel around, a favorite is always the Salvation Army, Prueher said.”They don’t have any standards at all for what makes the cut,” he said, meaning it in a positive way. The lack of a screening process at the Salvation Army is beneficial for the Found Footage Festival.It may be a mystery why people decide to donate their old home movies and exercise tapes to thrift stores like the Salvation Army, but Prueher and Pickett are glad that they do.”I think this footage that people would rather forget is more truthful than some of our greatest works of art,” Prueher said.”We are people who are, by and large, obsessed with video, who make bad decisions. “We think it’s worth preserving,” he said.This year is the fifth anniversary of the Found Footage Festival.The festival will be shown Oct. 16 at the Main Street Landing Film House at 8 p.m.Prueher encourages anyone who has found any video in or around Burlington to bring the footage to the festival.”We’d definitely give it a good home,” Prueher said.