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I Wanna Nerd You Up: Found Footage Festival

On Dec. 13 I had the good fortune to attend the Found Footage Festival through the kindness of Robert McKeown and Movies on a Big Screen (www.moviesonabigscreen.com), in cooperation with the Hornet Film Society. I had not been to one of their engagements before, and let’s just say that I had eyes opened to the awesomeness of FFF. 

I wish I had written this sooner but I’ve been on a nearly month-long Nolan’s Batman Trilogy marathon and I lost track of time. And hygene. And gainful employment. 

Just what is FFF? Two guys named Nick Preuhner and Joe Pickett (www.foundfootagefest.com) scour the country looking for old VHS tapes that contain footage from training videos, safety instructions videos, animal care videos, workout tapes and anything else that contains quirky, weird, or strange tapes that probably made sense for their intended audience.

To quote Preuhner, “We take stuff that wasn’t supposed to be shown in public, and we show it in public.”

Preuhner and Pickett will introduce each segment and occasionally talk over the segment that is playing, a la Mystery Science Theater 3000.

One of the first segments shown was of a woman named Dee Gruenig, who is a sponge artist. She takes delicate pieces of sponge, dips them in this ink or paint (I couldn’t tell which), and then spreads this combination on artist papers to create “works of art.” She got so excited at times that, well, let’s just say it sounded like another activity that people will occasionally use a sponge with to avoid an unwanted pregnancy.

Then there was “Dancing with Frank.”

This segment was about Frank Pacholski, a bald, hairy guy who wears a patriotic Speedo and a mask, and dances in front of elderly folks while he crams food into said Speedo and (or) covers himself in different sauces.

Preuhner and Pickett actually tracked the guy down, and it provided for an … odd encounter.

A different segment was “Stranger Danger,” or how to teach children how to avoid strangers who might kidnap them.

A clown named Blueberry asked children in his video what strangers look like. The children responded that strangers wear "hats or coats, or that they can be punk rockers."

Due to the creepiness of Blueberry, I’m surprised the children didn’t offer up his own name.

There were no shortage of weirdos in their footage, from a guy who was a real-life version Super Mario, who had an instructional video on playing the spoons; to Ruff Riders (a rap group), putting out a workout video for thugs that contained plenty of casual swearing; to ferret care; to the most disturbing thing I may have ever seen: a training film from the ‘60s that was about California Highway Patrol officers and childbirth.

The producers of this gem actually had a set that looked like the back seat of a classic car, and a woman gave birth—a live birth—while it was filmed. A CHP officer gave instructions on what the cadets would have to assist. Nothing was held back.

The absolute funniest bit involved a man named Kenny Strasser. He’s a friend of the FFF guys who is a yo-yo expert that travels the country to help bring awareness to environmental issues to children by way of the yo-yo. He is … was … often invited to speak on morning news shows in the Midwest.

By the way, Strasser is a friend of Preuhner and Pickett, and all of the above is complete BS made up by these guys to have some fun while they travel around the States. Kenny doesn’t have any special yo-yo talents, either. I’m not even sure if he has basic yo-yo abilities.

That didn’t stop him, though, from going on morning news shows to speak about yo-yos and show them his "tricks".

It’s hilarious. Trust me.

Go to their website and purchase these DVDs. They’ll make great conversation pieces to put on in the background at parties, or to gauge the sense of humor of a new friend or a date.

Editor’s note: The “News Digest” goes out every Tuesday morning and highlights our best stories, photos and videos from the week prior. Sign me up.

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