Found Footage movie – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Film Genres Glossary Terms

What is Found Footage?

Found footage is a subgenre of film that presents itself as if it were discovered video recordings or film footage. The footage is typically presented as raw, unedited, and unpolished, giving the viewer the impression that they are watching real events unfold. This style of filmmaking aims to create a sense of realism and immersion for the audience, often blurring the lines between fiction and reality.

History of Found Footage

The found footage genre can trace its roots back to the 1980 film “Cannibal Holocaust,” directed by Ruggero Deodato. The film follows a documentary crew who go missing in the Amazon rainforest, with their footage being discovered and pieced together to reveal the horrifying events that transpired. “Cannibal Holocaust” was controversial for its graphic content and realistic presentation, setting the stage for future found footage films.

The genre gained mainstream popularity in the late 1990s and early 2000s with films like “The Blair Witch Project” (1999) and “Paranormal Activity” (2007). These films utilized the found footage format to create tension and suspense, leading to box office success and critical acclaim.

Characteristics of Found Footage Films

Found footage films typically share several key characteristics that distinguish them from traditional filmmaking. These include:

1. Handheld Camera: Found footage films are often shot using handheld cameras, giving the footage a shaky and amateurish quality. This technique adds to the realism of the film, as it mimics the look of home videos or documentary footage.

2. Minimal Editing: Found footage films are presented as if they were discovered in their raw form, with minimal editing or post-production effects. This helps to maintain the illusion that the events depicted are real and unscripted.

3. Unknown Actors: Many found footage films feature unknown or amateur actors, further blurring the lines between fiction and reality. This casting choice adds to the authenticity of the film, as the actors appear more like real people caught in extraordinary circumstances.

4. Pseudo-Documentary Style: Found footage films often adopt a pseudo-documentary style, presenting the footage as if it were part of a real documentary or news report. This approach adds to the sense of realism and immersion for the audience.

Techniques Used in Found Footage Films

Found footage films employ a variety of techniques to create tension, suspense, and realism. Some common techniques include:

1. Jump Scares: Found footage films often use jump scares to startle the audience and create a sense of unease. These sudden, unexpected moments of fright are effective in building tension and keeping viewers on edge.

2. Night Vision: Many found footage films utilize night vision cameras to capture footage in low-light conditions. This technique adds a sense of claustrophobia and mystery, as the audience struggles to see what is lurking in the darkness.

3. Audio Distortion: Found footage films may incorporate audio distortion or interference to create a sense of unease and disorientation. This technique can heighten the suspense and make the audience question the authenticity of the footage.

4. Found Objects: Found footage films may incorporate found objects, such as journals, photographs, or audio recordings, to add depth and context to the story. These objects help to create a sense of mystery and intrigue, as the audience pieces together the events leading up to the footage.

Impact of Found Footage on the Film Industry

Found footage films have had a significant impact on the film industry, influencing both mainstream and independent filmmakers. Some key impacts include:

1. Low Budget Success: Found footage films are often made on a shoestring budget, as they require minimal equipment and resources. This has led to a rise in low-budget filmmaking, with filmmakers able to create compelling and profitable films with limited resources.

2. Audience Engagement: Found footage films have proven to be highly engaging for audiences, as they offer a sense of realism and immersion that traditional films may lack. This has led to increased interest in the genre, with audiences seeking out new and innovative found footage films.

3. Genre Blurring: Found footage films have blurred the lines between genres, combining elements of horror, thriller, and documentary filmmaking. This has led to a resurgence in hybrid genres, with filmmakers experimenting with new and unconventional storytelling techniques.

4. Influence on Filmmaking Techniques: Found footage films have influenced traditional filmmaking techniques, with filmmakers incorporating handheld cameras, minimal editing, and pseudo-documentary styles into their work. This has led to a more dynamic and immersive cinematic experience for audiences.

Notable Found Footage Films

Some notable found footage films include:

1. “The Blair Witch Project” (1999): Directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez, this film follows three student filmmakers who disappear while investigating the legend of the Blair Witch in Maryland. The film was a commercial success and is credited with popularizing the found footage genre.

2. “Paranormal Activity” (2007): Directed by Oren Peli, this film follows a young couple who set up cameras in their home to capture evidence of a supernatural presence. The film was a box office hit and spawned a successful franchise.

3. “REC” (2007): Directed by Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza, this Spanish horror film follows a television reporter and her cameraman as they document a viral outbreak in an apartment building. The film was praised for its intense atmosphere and innovative use of found footage techniques.

4. “Cloverfield” (2008): Directed by Matt Reeves, this monster movie follows a group of friends as they navigate a giant creature attacking New York City. The film was praised for its innovative use of handheld cameras and realistic portrayal of a disaster scenario.

In conclusion, found footage films have become a popular and influential subgenre of filmmaking, known for their realism, suspense, and immersive storytelling techniques. With their low budget success, audience engagement, and impact on the film industry, found footage films continue to push the boundaries of traditional filmmaking and inspire new generations of filmmakers.