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found footage

A Dictionary of Film Studies

Annette Kuhn,

Guy Westwell

found footage (found footage film) 

1. Pre‐existing film footage appropriated by a filmmaker and used in a way that was not originally intended.

2. A film comprised, in whole or part, of found footage. The term calls on the idea of a ‘found object’, or objet trouvé, as that term is understood in art history. Unlike the use of stock footage in documentary film, the term ‘found’ suggests a less than respectful attitude to the provenance of the film footage and to techniques of appropriation, collage, and compilation. Working with found footage requires considerable editing skill (see montage). Found footage films are usually regarded as distinct from the compilation film, though the precise boundaries between the two are not altogether clear. Early avant‐garde found footage films include Crossing the Great Sagrada (Adrian Brunel, UK, 1924); Histoire du soldat inconnu/Story of the Unknown Soldier (Henri Storck, Belgium, 1932); and Rose Hobart (Joseph Cornell, US, 1936). The use of found footage was common in films of the New American Cinema, with Bruce Conner's A Movie (1958) considered seminal. It is also a feature of filmmaking practices associated with the structural film movement of the 1970s. Video technology has made the production of found footage films more straightforward, though some filmmakers continue to work with film (see video). Contemporary artists working with found footage include Leslie Thornton, Abigail Child, Naomi Uman, Michele Smith, Craig Baldwin and Douglas Gordon. Affordable digital editing software has rendered the practice of re‐editing pre‐existing footage widespread, with mashups a common genre on video‐sharing websites such as YouTube. As a result the term ‘found footage’ now has a different, and constantly evolving, meaning, related to the gathering together of random film clips on the internet.

Further Reading:

Basilico, Stefano, Lessig, Lawrence, and Yeo, Rob Cut: Film as Found Object in Contemporary Video (2004).Find this resource:

Wees, William C. Recycled Images: The Art and Politics of Found Footage Films (1993).Find this resource:

http://www.sensesofcinema.com/2001/cteq/hobart/ Article on Rose Hobart in the online journal Senses of Cinema.