Found footage (appropriation)

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In filmmaking, found footage is the use of footage as a found object, appropriated for use in collage films, documentary films, mockumentary films and other works.

Use in commercial film[edit]

Historical found footage is often used in documentary films as a source of primary information, giving the viewer a more comprehensive understanding of the subject matter. Director and cinematographer Ken Burns used archival footage in his films. Baseball (1994), his documentary television series for PBS, incorporates historical footage accompanied by original music or actors reading relevant written documents.

Often fictional films imitate this style in order to increase their authenticity, especially the mockumentary genre. In the dramatized and embellished pseudo-documentary film F For Fake (1973), director Orson Welles borrows all shots of main subject Elmyr de Hory from a BBC documentary,[1] rather than fabricating the footage himself.

Stuart Cooper's Overlord uses stock footage of the landing on Normandy during World War II to increase realism. The footage was obtained from the Imperial War Museum in the UK.[2] Other parts of the film were shot by Cooper, but using old World War II-era film stock with World War II-era lenses.

Music video and VJing[edit]

A certain style of music video makes extensive use of found footage, mostly found on TV, like news, documentaries, old (and odd) films etc. The forefather of found footage music videos was artist Bruce Conner who screened Cosmic Ray in 1961.[3] Prominent examples are videos of bands such as Public Enemy and Coldcut. The latter also project video material during their stage show, which includes live mixing of video footage. Artists such as Vicki Bennett, also known as People Like Us, or the video artist Kasumi with the film Shockwaves, use Creative Commons archives such as the Prelinger Archives.[4]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Null, Christopher (12 February 2005). "F for Fake". Archived from the original on 21 November 2011. Retrieved 23 March 2011.
  2. ^ The Criterion Collection: Overlord by Stuart Cooper
  3. ^ "Before There Was MTV, There Was Bruce Conner | The Village Voice". 10 November 2010. Retrieved 2020-06-02.
  4. ^ Maggie Shiels, Unlocking the copyright culture, BBC News website, June 24, 2002. Accessed June 24, 2008.
  5. ^ Petrossiants, Andreas (February 2022). "Anti-Banality Union with Andreas Petrossiants". The Brooklyn Rail. Retrieved May 17, 2022.
  6. ^ Found Footage Magazine-Experimental Cinema
  7. ^ Recent Found-Footage Films-BAMPFA
  8. ^ Early Monthly Segments #98: Abigail Child & Julie Murray-Experimental Cinema
  9. ^ Found-Footage Films of Bruce Conner-BAMPFA
  10. ^ Joseph Cornell and Ken Jacobs: Footage Lost and Found-MoMA
  13. ^ Ken Jacobs’ PERFECT FILM, a literal found footage short concerning the assassination of Malcolm X-The Seventh Art
  14. ^ Joseph Cornell and Ken Jacobs: Footage Lost and Found-MoMA
  15. ^ How 'Jane' Evolved from Found Footage to Inspiring Documentary - Creative Planet Network
  16. ^ Maggie Shiels, Unlocking the copyright culture, BBC News website, June 24, 2002. Accessed June 24, 2008.
  17. ^ Luther Price (films)-Whitney Museum of American Art
  18. ^ Recent Found-Footage Films-BAMPFA
  19. ^ Divining spirits: Chick Strand-Sight & Sound-BFI
  20. ^ Found Footage Magazine-Experimental Cinema

Further reading[edit]

  • Cut: Film as Found Object in Contemporary Video, Stefano Basilico, Milwaukee Art Museum 2004.
  • Found Footage Film, Cecilia Hausheer, Christoph Settele, Luzern 1992, ISBN 3-909310-08-7
  • Films Beget Films, Jay Leyda, London, George Allen & Unwin 1964.
  • Recycled Images: The Art and Politics of Found Footage Films, William C. Wees, Anthology Film Archives, New York: 1993. ISBN 0-911689-19-2

External links[edit]

  • The Recycled Cinema – "A Research Site Devoted to the Past and Future of Found Footage Film and Video"
  • Found Footage Magazine – a semi-annual publication with theoretical, analytical and informative contents related to found footage filmmaking