Salvaging the lost art of VHS
It all started with a McDonald’s training video and a group of college kids gathered around a TV in Bridgman Hall.
UW-Eau Claire Alumni Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett are taking their Found Footage Festival on its eighth tour around the country, showing their film of found VHS tapes made into a hilarious show.
“These videotape moments, that may be regrettable sometimes, I think are worth seeking out and nobody else is doing that,” Prueher said. “There is no temperature controlled vault holding on to old exercise videos. We are there to step in and made sure that VHS, which is part of our history, isn’t lost in the ages.”
The Found Footage Festival began when the guys were working on a documentary, “Dirty Country,” a film about a salesman who turned out to be a raunchy country singer. After spending five years working on the documentary, they decided they needed to raise some money for the film, but needed to do it without spending any money. Found Footage Festival was
“This is something that seemed like an inside joke amongst our friends, that nobody else would find funny,” Prueher said “We are constantly impressed that other people are as entertained as we are.”
Even before college, both of the men enjoyed watching old informational, exercise, commercial videos that made them laugh.
“When we got to Eau Claire we started finding more and more videos at TV10 and thrift stores around town,” Prueher said. “We just decided to keep looking and keep sharing our collection with people.”
Pickett said they love coming back to Eau Claire because Saver’s always has awesome finds. He said in college they were on a first name basis with the workers because they were always searching for videos.
“We occasionally find home movies,” Prueher said, “But most of the stuff is corporate training videos, promotional videos or other random stuff that ended up on VHS.”
They mostly get their VHS from thrift sales, Salvation Army and garage sales. Even with the decline in VHS tapes, Pickett said they have more than enough stored to last them awhile.
Prueher said because they are on the road so much, they don’t have as much time to look for videos. Anyone in the area who is going to the show should feel free to bring any VHS tapes that they find hilarious, Prueher said.
“Basically the way we do it, is we go out and collect videos for most of the year so we are on tour for about eight months of the year,” Prueher said. “Then we get in the mode — the tape watching mode. That is actually the tough part.”
Prueher said that most of the time the videos aren’t even entertaining, they are just bad. Pickett said the chance of an amazing find keeps them digging, though.
“The thrill of the hunt … for us to find these videos,” Pickett said. “I think it’s the same high that a gambler gets. When you find a video that you didn’t know existed, like an exercise video by Fabio … I think that is the part that gets us both excited.”
The Found Footage Festival is playing Friday in Eau Claire at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. at the Downtown Cinema and tickets are $10.
Sophomore Garrett Shok saw the Found Footage Festival last year and is hoping to make it again to their show this weekend.
Shok said he tells people they have to go because it is “damn funny.”
“It was the funniest things that you would hope to find in videos and they found it,” Shok said. “It was very unique. I had never seen something like that before.”