Found Footage Filmmaking

Editor’s note: With Paranormal Activity 4 now officially released in theaters, here is a re-run of our Fantastic Fest review, originally published on September 27, 2012. Although the FF version was a work-in-progress, as far as we can tell the final cut is mostly the same save for a slight reordering of some scenes near the end. Another set of cameras and another hopeless family that can’t help themselves. They can’t rid themselves of a demonic presence that is purposefully in their home for a reason, nor can they keep from being compelled to record everything that happens. For a franchise that utilizes the “found footage” form of filmmaking, it still isn’t quite clear yet who has found all of this footage to show us, or why they’ve chosen to sift through two decades’ worth of recordings and cleanly edit it all together and make movies out of them. I gather I’m reading too much into this, but by this point I think I’m due an explanation. Paranormal Activity 4 takes place chronologically following the disappearance of Katie (Katie Featherston) and her nephew Hunter (Brady Allen) at the end of  Paranormal Activity 2, which actually took place before Paranormal Activity, except for the final five minutes, which take place after the events of Paranormal Activity, which started this whole train until we saw Paranormal Activity 3, which explained the origins of the hauntings and the commentary on home video paranormal voyeurism. Part 4 takes place five years after the events of […]

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? See what happens when a filmmaker edits down 10 hours of NASA footage into 8 minutes colored by a touching voice over from a sentient robot named Robbie who is dying. Tears are natural. Neil Harvey has made something unique and haunting that captures the heart. Hat tip to Ben L. and Short of the Week for sending it in. What will it cost? Only 8 minutes. Skip Work. You’ve Got Time For More Short Films

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Bryan Bertino crafted a fantastic home invasion flick with The Strangers. It was environmental and terrifying, but it also seemed fresh while playing off of old standbys in the genre. Now, he’ll be joining the handful of directors attempting to breathe life into Found Fauxtage. According to Shock Till You Drop, the writer/director has sold his script for Mockingbird to Universal. The film will focus on a couple that receives a package containing instructions that, if not followed, will yield some bloody results. Also in the package? A camera. Because you can’t have Found Fauxtage without one. It’s an interesting, game-like premise that absolutely has potential, but it’s just great to Bertino getting another project off the ground after the hellish development of The Strangers 2, which will probably not be made at this point. Interestingly, this announcement comes right around the same time that Universal dropped its Stretch Armstrong remake with Taylor Lautner slated to star. In a craven world of giant tentpoles, a movie based off a toy with built-in awareness and a Twilight star just got axed while an original script with a curious premise got picked up. Maybe the tide is turning after all. At least at Universal.

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Although the real question keeping Hollywood awake in 2012 is “Does Winston Wolf clean up dead hookers on Yom Kippur?”, the fine folks over at HitFix have put forth a handful of queries of varying importance which filmmakers, studios and fans might have on their minds this year. It’s their 15 Questions Keeping Hollywood Awake in 2012. With concerns from Lindsay Lohan’s possible last chance to Joss Whedon’s first real shot with The Avengers, it’s an intriguing list that might prove 2012 to be both an endlessly fascinating and completely irrelevant year in the stories behind the movies. Will Smith, Found Footage, Hunger Games, Dark Knight Rises and more. HitFix has questions, and here are the answers:

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, Associate Editor Kate Erbland drops by to play Best/Worst and talk Found Fauxtage Films. Plus, we speak with author Ray Morton to get the whole story of why The Beatles made A Hard Day’s Night and we get a special announcement directly from Vimeo that will sound like sunshine to weary independent filmmakers. That is, the filmmakers who want to save some money. Download This Episode

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The Coroner

The Quintanilla family has a house in Sitges that they haven’t visited in a decade, so all five of them pack into the car and head up for the summer. The two teens have vague memories of the home from when they were much younger, but it’s the local legend of a ghostly girl in the forest that catches their attention. They document their exploration of the house and the giant maze attached to their back yard on video, and soon they’re hearing strange noises at night and seeing mysterious figures in woods. When their younger brother goes missing the family rushes into the maze to find him, and, well, let’s just say the Quintanillas can get by with a smaller Christmas tree this year. Atrocious is the bastard Spanish love-child of Blair Witch Project and Insidious, and yes, in that scenario Insidious is the male who donated little more than a genre and a one word adjective for a name. It falls victim to some of the same problems that plague most found footage films… namely a meandering first half, segments consisting of little more than the camera being shaken repeatedly, and the nagging question as to why these people are still filming, but it also creates and builds enough solid tension and legitimately frightening scenes to mark it as one of the better examples of the genre.

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Movies We Love

You did it, godammit. They just invited us to dinner. Synopsis A small band of American filmmakers departs for the Amazon to document the lives of warring cannibal tribes. Two months after they’ve vanished into the so-called Green Inferno, a rescue team led by anthropologist Harold Monroe (Robert Kerman) discovers the documentary crew died at the hands of the Yanomamo tribe. Monroe retrieves the crew’s footage and brings it back to New York. The found footage depicts an orgy of shocking sadism – perpetrated by both the cannibals and the “civilized” Americans.

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So, a movie called Troll Hunter was playing at Fantastic Fest, and one sleepy morning, I woke up early to check out the press screening because someone needed to review it. I knew nothing of it, and soon trolls were filling the screen in all their awesome glory. Going into the movie blind (in regards to the look of the monsters) is the best way to go, but there’s a new trailer out for the curious. It puts more of an emphasis on the action, which is probably a good call since that’s the best part of the film, and it gives away the look of a lot of the trolls. Three students head out into the forest with a game manager to see if the myths about trolls are really true, and what they find smells terrible and seems angry.

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Deep in the heart of the Norwegian woods, there’s a giant menace standing tall against the landscape. That menace is power lines, and the people hate the power lines. However, they’re completely necessary to keep the trolls at bay. Troll Hunter is a found-footage style faux-doc that sees a crew of young teenagers (whose names matter about as much as their characters) heading out into the dangerous woods to track down the guy on the government dole who manages the troll population in secret. Hans reluctantly takes them into his world, and soon, they’re running for their lives and praying that the UV lamps on the top of his truck still have some battery life left in case they need to turn a 20-story baddie to stone.

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Trash Humpers

It’s difficult to know exactly what to do with Trash Humpers. It seems irrelevant and futile to take out my critical toolbox and attempt an assessment of character development, story, and visual style for a film that so clearly intends to pursue none of these things.

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AlfredHitchcock

To movie critics (including myself): yer doin’ it wrong.

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cw-foundfootagefilmmaking

This week’s Culture Warrior talks fake movies that look real but are fake, from Paranormal Activity to Blair Witch to old people getting in it with garbage.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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