Found Footage Festival co-founder Joe Pickett, now featuring at the Edinburgh Fringe en route to Sydney, is gearing up to open this year’s SUFF with an all-new edition of the signature Festival alongside co-founder Nick Prueher. The team’s first appearance in Australia, the opening night audience will be treated to a collection of the strangest, most obscure and one-of-a-kind finds from video and thrift stores from across America, presented by the duo themselves.
“SUFF has been high on our list for a long time,” explains Pickett. “We’ve played other underground film festivals and they’re always fun. People who go to underground film festivals appreciate cool, weird, out-of-the-ordinary stuff. These are our people.
“The Found Footage Fest is as underground as it gets. These are videos that were never intended to be seen by a room full of people and then we show them to a room full of people.”
The footage, none of which is taken from the internet, is comprised of videos from garage sales and thrift stores sourced throughout the States, ranging from outtakes to ‘satanic panic videos from the ‘80s.’
“My buddy Nick and I take audiences on a guided tour through our favourite, funniest VHS finds,” said Pickett. “We show a bunch of different VHS videos ranging from industrial safety videos to home movies to exercise videos to public access videos. We’re video editors by trade, so we cut them down to palatable chunks and introduce each one.
“We’ll often get unusually obsessed with these videos and research them to death, so we’ll tell audiences where we found them and any relevant behind-the-scenes stories. In some cases, we’ll actually track down the original creators of the videos to find out what the hell they were thinking.”
In addition to the Festival, the pair intend to spend a fair amount of their trip scouring the thrift stores in Sydney for new segments, in some cases taking the last opportunity to source VHS tapes from their traditional retailers.
“Video stores are going the way of the dinosaur and it’s a damn shame,” said Pickett. “No algorithm in the world can replace a nerdy video store clerk. On top of that, video stores have always been the training grounds for the best filmmakers and film critics. Where will the next Quentin Tarantino get a job right out of high school?
“As for VHS, I think the appeal lies in its flaws like bad tracking and shaky audio. High definition has its time and place, but I’d rather watch a movie like Halloweenon VHS, where the format contributes to the eeriness.”
Appearing over the course of the Festival at Marrickville’s Factory Theatre, Pickett and Prueher, in addition to showcasing their premiere footage, plan to exhibit some of their all-time favourites.
“First and foremost, it’s a comedy show, so I hope people walk away laughing. But we also have some mind-boggling videos in our line-up that could potentially alter the way a person perceives the world. But mostly I hope people laugh.”
The Sydney Underground Film Festival will take place at Marrickville’s Factory Theatre from September 14-17, 2017