Screen savers: Festival finds humor in discarded videos

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They’ve found the funny.

A pair of found-footage connoisseurs are coming to the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Aug. 20 with a treasure trove of unintentionally funny videos rescued from landfills. The humor comes in part from the films being taken wildly, gloriously out of context, says one organizer.

“Most of our films are not intended for mass audiences, but something magical happens when you put 200 people in front of a training video meant to be watched in a break room,” said Joe Pickett of Park Slope, who founded the festival along with a childhood friend.

The Found Footage Festival is a showcase of weird, funny, and downright bizarre snippets of video that the organizers have found. Pickett and his friend Nick Prueher edit the videos for time, curate them into themes, and intersperse the videos with commentary and even interviews with video subjects they have managed to track down.

The theme for the upcoming show is “weirdos,” which Pickett insists is meant with the utmost affection and respect for people like the guy who made a “virtual buddy” — a video of taped conversations for lonely TV viewers.

“I’m talking about people with a crazy idea who is ambitious enough to do it,” he said. “Thank God for weirdos! Weirdos make the world go ’round.”

The Festival has humble origins in the high school delinquency of Pickett and Prueher, who laughed at a stolen McDonald’s training tape that portrayed happy employees cheerfully cleaning toilets. Pickett later knicked a stack of instructional tapes from at a chain video store, and things spiralled from there, leading to a festival with 120 tour dates around the world last year.

“It’s both a passion project and a full-time job,” Pickett said. “It’s a dream come true, but I’ll complain about it to anyone who listens. I have a hard time explaining it to my parents.”

Found Footage Festival at Brooklyn Academy of Music (30 Lafayette Ave. between St. Felix Street and Ashland Place in Fort Greene, Aug. 20 at 7:30 pm. $14.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at or by calling (718) 260–4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
Being a supporter of BAM for many years, the following comment may come across as a slight shock to the faint of heart and also a few of my readers, but here it goes:
The word "curate" has been being thrown around just a LITTLE TOO LOOSLY lately around here.
I hate to say it, but I stand behind what I've said and I will continue to do so.
John Wasserman/Patriot/All Around Good Guy
Aug. 17, 2015, 1:17 pm
hhbb from clinton hill says:
Feint of Heart. Loosely.

(just curatin')
Aug. 18, 2015, 11:22 am
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
Please pardon my mistakes (located above). My eyes aren't what they once were.
John Wasserman
Aug. 19, 2015, 5:54 pm
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
And, if you don't mind my adding this: "Faint of Heart" is the correct spelling of the term. It's characters such as yourself that give curating a bad name. Please seek a paper route as soon as is convenient for you.
This is one of the things that happens when you try to double-cross John Wasserman.
Aug. 19, 2015, 6:05 pm

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