The Found Footage Festival is a road-show of odd video clips drawn from dusty archives and dustbins across the nation. Curators Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett, who assembled this collection of old celebrity PSAs, nude workout shows, abandoned home videos and the like, host each show with live “Mystery Science Theater 3000”-style commentary.
And when they come to Burlington’s Merrill’s Roxy Cinemas for two shows this Thursday, November 20, local cable subscribers may recognize a couple of faces in the fest’s montage of clips from public-access television. One is Gordon Gaynon, who appears in a snippet from his VCAM show “Gordon and Friends” leading Bible study with “Peter and Tweeter,” a duo of gigantic stuffed animals.
Another quick clip features a young man in Halloween-worthy makeup discussing what sounds like a fright film with an off-camera woman. In a phone interview, Prueher says he and Pickett haven’t been able to trace this bit — in the live performance recorded on their latest DVD, they describe it simply as a “goth show.” But sharp-eyed Burlingtonians will ID the clip’s star as Ze’La the Goth, who appears on VCAM’s “Death’s Head Theatre” and “Post-Mortem Espresso.”
Prueher, who works as an assistant at “The Colbert Report,” says, “We always like to feature local stuff when we have it.” And “public access is our favorite. It’s far more entertaining than anything on network or cable.” In Denver, he says, the local public-access manager attended the Fest and then invited Prueher and Pickett to tour his station: “He had a whole library of old footage. We were kids in a candy store.”
How is watching the Found Footage Festival different from aimlessly surfing YouTube? For one thing, says Prueher, it has the energy of a live comedy show. For another, “We don’t take any videos off the Internet. It’s stuff you can’t see anywhere else but our show.” That’s certainly true of the “Queens home video” he found in a secondhand camcorder, which could only be described as a series of WTFs, including an elderly fellow in drag creatively interpreting the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack.
In Burlington, where the fest is coming for the first time, Prueher hopes to scour the local thrift stores for new material: “This is our kind of town.”