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Found Footage Festival Gives Your Old VHS Tapes A Second Life


The next time you decide to have a garage sale, or donate some old items to the Salvation Army, you may find yourself getting rid of some old VHS tapes that have been collecting dust. While these tapes might be trash to you, they are treasure to Nick Prueher, one of the curators of the Found Footage Festival. The Found Footage Festival showcases footage from videos that were found at garage sales and thrift stores and in warehouses and dumpsters across the country, and will be coming to Charlotte’s Neighborhood Theater for a show Friday night. Nick Prueher gives us a little preview.

Kevin: First of all, I’ve watched some of these old videos on your website, and I have to start by asking, what exactly were we thinking in the 80’s?

Prueher: You know, that is the fundamental question that people end up walking away from our show with. But you know, it's weird, we end with videos from the 90's and sometimes we are even delving into DVD's. And what we've found is the production values change, but the bad ideas don't. So we are very happy about that.

Kevin: What inspired you to turn these old videos into a show?

Prueher: Well we were really bored, and we grew up in a small town in Wisconsin. And we would sit around and watch videos that we found and make jokes about them and kind of develop this running commentary. And then ten years ago in 2004, we had enough in our collection - over 1,000 - where we thought it would be kind of fun to take it out of the living room and put it into a theater. We didn't really expect anybody besides our immediate circle of friends to show up, but for some reason it struck a chord with people. So here it is, ten years later, and we are still doing it.

Kevin: Of course this is radio, and your show is about video, but some audio from some of these videos paints a pretty accurate picture of the kind of stuff people are going to see at your show. The first one is called “Totally Tulip”. Tell us about that one.

Prueher: Yeah this is a video we found in Ohio, and I guess in 1988 fabric painting sweatshirts was a big deal. You would paint little floral patterns on your sweatshirt. And there is a brand of paint called Tulip that made an instructional video. And they decided for some reason to include a three minute music video at the beginning of it, and the song has been stuck in our heads ever since.


Kevin: The second one is called "John & Johnny", and you refer to John and Johnny as two of the most obnoxious people to ever grace the small screen.

Prueher: That's true. These are home shopping posts from 1987, around the same year as "Totally Tulip". And these are from the early days of home shopping. And I guess the idea was to just be as hyperactive as possible. So these guys take the cake.

"John & Johnnie" Clip

Kevin: And you actually reunited these guys after 26 years?

Prueher: Yes! It's the reunion that maybe only we care about. This was kind of a bucket list project for us. They hadn't seen each other in 26 years since this early home shopping show. And so we paid way too much money to fly these two to Florida. And we shot it, and we are going to be debuting it in North Carolina.

Kevin: Finally you found a video right here in Charlotte called "Facercise."

Prueher: Yeah these are facial exercises that I guess you can do to tighten and tone your face. It involves making some really crazy expressions and holding them for ten seconds.

"Facercise" audio clip

Kevin: North Carolinians are certainly going to be proud of that one.

Prueher: They should. We found it at a Salvation Army in Charlotte, so they should.

Kevin: How much time do you spend watching VHS tapes?

Prueher: Basically we go on tour for over a year, and we are collecting videos the whole time. Then we take six months off and just lock ourselves in the apartment, and just try to get through as many as we can. So we really haven't left our apartments much in the last half year. We are just coming up for air to show them in public.

Nick Prueher is the host and curator of the Found Footage Festival, which will be at the Neighborhood Theater in Charlotte Friday night at 8 PM.