THE GUYS BEHIND the Found Footage Festival are making their annual return to Portland this week, and they're bringing something special.
Along with this year's lovingly assembled collection of hilarious VHS oddities, curators and hosts Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett will screen a gem that they scored on their last visit to Portland, during a two-night stand at Laurelhurst Theater.
"The first night, this guy came up to us afterward and was like, 'Hey, so, uh, I have this video and I don't know if I should show it to you or not,' and we were like, 'This is intriguing,'" says Prueher. "It turned out he worked at the local news channel KOIN 6. The next night he came back and brought the tape, so we actually set up a VCR in the theater after the show and watched it in its entirety with the guy."
The tape came from raw feed of a local newscast, probably sometime around 1999, and it features faces that will be familiar to Portlanders, including current anchor Jeff Gianola and former anchor Kelley Day. Without spoiling too much, it shows the news team caught in some very funny off-air moments. Gianola seems annoyed when a particular segment is dropped, leaving him without his cue. "What happened to 36?!?" he shouts, then throws a petulant but hilarious mini-fit on camera.
"Everybody's had that bad day at work and been frustrated," says Prueher. "It just so happens that they were in the position where it gets caught on tape. It's not a 'gotcha!' thing, but it is pretty funny to see someone throwing a tantrum. It's pretty harmless."
On the tape, we also see retired anchor Mike Donahue in a hysterically banal conversation with co-anchor Shirley Hancock about movie recommendations. He's thinking about seeing The Insider, but is a little worried because it's rated R.
"What really made this one stand out was the combination of having a lot of fireworks and then having the type of conversation that's so boring, it becomes entertaining," says Prueher, who, along with Pickett, sifts through hundreds and hundreds of hours of forgotten videotape to find gems for the show. "They're trying to recommend movies to each other and it's like the blind leading the blind. We were just fascinated by this little glimpse you get behind the scenes."
For Portlanders, the KOIN 6 clips alone are worth the price of admission to the latest installment of the Found Footage Festival, which this year takes place at the Hollywood. But Prueher and Pickett haven't scrimped on the rest of the program: There are goofy exercise videos, kitschy instructional videos, clips from bizarre public-access shows, and something called How to Have Cybersex on the Internet, which is spectacularly unsexy. There's also an unspeakably strange home video of a man in rapturous admiration of a stick he found. There's nothing special about it—it's just a stick. "It's plumb simply awesome," says the man of his discovery, about 500 times.
Prueher and Pickett love making their more-or-less annual stops in Portland, not simply for showing what they've already found, but also hunting for future installments. "We'll be in town all weekend doing some thrifting," say Prueher, "so hopefully we'll dig up some more Portland finds for next year."