Found Footage Festival brings the best of the worst VHS gold to Heights Theatre
What do poorly made training videos, wound-treatment instructionals, and homemade workout videos have in common? They're all VHS gold.
This Wednesday night, train-wreck aficionados of all kinds will converge on the Heights Theatre when Found Footage Festival: Volume 6 rolls into town for a one-night-only showing. If you aren't familiar, the FFF (as it's known on the streets) is a compilation of the best/worst videos that co-founders Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher have curated (i.e. bought from local pawn shops, garage sales, etc.) over the past 20+ years. Their show has received major media attention from Hollywood, with the likes of Jimmy Kimmel and The Colbert Report featuring the video circus. Before this week's performance, Prueher sat down with the Dressing Room to talk about his Minnesota ties, pushing the limits of poor taste, and the one video FFF has never released.
Let's get the hometown pop out of the way. You guys have some roots in the Twin Cities, right?
Yeah, we actually lived in Minnesota for five years and started our video collection there. We held one of our very first shows at Bryant-Lake Bowl back in 2004, and we've been coming back each year. It's sort of a homecoming.
So what do you think it is that makes you guys so successful year after year?
It's a lot of word-of-mouth, honestly. People come to the show, like it, and bring their friends the next year.
Ever had any of the "stars" of your videos attend a showing?
Actually, yes. We used to show this video called "Mike-nastics," which was this middle-aged guy named Mike from White Bear Lake doing gymnastics in his living room. We worked with him to have him come up onstage at a show and do some tricks, but that one was planned.
The only time we've ever had a close call was when [Minnesota native] Jack Rebney, who is better known as the "Winnebago Man" caught wind of the fact we were using footage of him, and he was pretty upset. I mean, this is a guy we've dubbed "the angriest man in the world," so probably not a guy you want mad at you. Anyways, he came to a show, and once he saw just how happy that video made people, he changed his tune entirely. He even hugged us before the night was over, so we think it was a good night for everyone.
The fest really doesn't hold back in terms of what you guys show, whether it's nudity or violence or vulgarity. Has there ever been a video that you've decided was too racy or over the line to include?
Hosts Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett
There's one video we've never included. You know the guitar player Steve Vai? Well, there was this video that a woman made for him that somehow got copied and passed around for years, and it's her telling him that she's his biggest fan and that she'll prove it. Then she proceeds to do certain, um, tricks. Like she blows out a bunch of candles using, ah, I'll say an orifice other than her mouth. She also shows off how she can make certain noises with that same orifice. It's funny, but you can also tell that the woman is clearly disturbed, and that makes it more uncomfortable than entertaining, so we cut it.
Outside of that video though, is there anything in this week's showing that you think pushes the limits?
Oh for sure. We want to get a reaction from the audience. Volume 6 includes a video made by wound-treatment professionals for wound-treatment professionals, which is pretty intense. We've also got a masturbation instructional video for developmentally challenged people, so we're willing to push the limits pretty far.
Now that you've been doing this for the better part of a decade, do you have any longer-term plans for your career?
As long as we can keep bringing these videos to different places and showing them off, I think that's a success. But we've also branched out and released a book of our favorite VHS covers, with our commentary included, and we're hoping to do a TV show sort of like American Pickers but with us finding videos. Hopefully that works out because I think that would be pretty cool.
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