Found footage (film technique)

An alien invasion depicted in a "found footage" style, as if seen through a handheld video camera

Found footage is a subgenre in films in which all or a substantial part of a fictional film is presented as if it were discovered film or video recordings. The events on screen are typically seen through the camera of one or more of the characters involved, often accompanied by their real-time off-camera commentary. For verisimilitude, the cinematography may be done by the actors themselves as they perform, and shaky camera work and naturalistic acting are routinely employed. The footage may be presented as if it were "raw" and complete, or as if it had been edited into a narrative by those who "found" it.

The most common use of the technique is in horror films (e.g., Cannibal Holocaust, The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, Diary of the Dead), where the footage is purported to be the only surviving record of the events, with the participants now missing or dead. It has also been used in comedy (e.g., Babysitting, Project X), science-fiction (e.g., Chronicle, Project Almanac, Europa Report), and drama (e.g., Exhibit A, Zero Day).

Found footage is originally the name of an entirely different genre, but has sometimes been used to describe pseudo-documentaries with this narrative technique. The film magazine Variety has for example used the term "faux found-footage film" to describe the 2012 film Grave Encounters 2. The film scholar David Bordwell has criticized this recent use because of the confusion it creates, and instead prefers the term "discovered footage" for the narrative gimmick.[1]

Found footage films typically employ one or more of the following four cinematic techniques: first person perspective, pseudo-documentary or mockumentary, news footage, and surveillance footage. These four footage sources were determined to be the most prevalent in an analysis of 500 found footage films conducted by the Found Footage Critic website.[2]


The technique has precedents in literature, particularly in the epistolary novel, which typically consists of either correspondence or diary entries, purportedly written by a character central to the events. Like found footage, the epistolary technique has often been employed in horror fiction: both Dracula and Frankenstein are epistolary novels, as is The Call of Cthulhu by H. P. Lovecraft.

Italian director Ruggero Deodato revolutionized the found footage style of narrative filmmaking with his film Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

In filmmaking, it dates back at least as far as 1980 with Cannibal Holocaust but was popularised by The Blair Witch Project (1999), [3] Reviewing V/H/S for The AV Club Scott Tobia noted that the genre "has since become to the ’00s and ’10s what slasher movies were to the ’80s" [4] The format has been subsequently used in well-known films such as Paranormal Activity (2007), REC (2007), and Chronicle (2012).[5]

The genre has appeal to producers because of its lower cost, with the feeling of an amateur documentary allowing lower production values and filming quality than would be accepted on a conventional film.

Writer-director Christopher Landon, who has made several found footage horror films, has argued that the genre is likely to extend in future outside horror: "Inevitably, because of the flexibility of our crew and our schedule and how we operate in general, because we're so quick and lightweight and easy and functional that way, we tend to shoot a lot of stuff... I don't think found footage is in danger of running out. I think it's in that process now where I think we're going to obviously start to see more and more movies that are tackling different genres through that lens. I think you're going to see more comedies. I think we're going to see a lot of sci-fi movies... sometimes it reminds me of when reality TV first really hit and was growing. There was a lot of pushback and people saying, 'Oh, it's going to go away, it's going to go away.' But it didn't go away. It just changed a lot... YouTube has completely changed the way that we experience movies because people are out there making stuff all the time and capturing moments, so there's a certain language that I think we've adopted. So I think that the found footage format connects to that. I think it's very relatable to people."[6]

Over the past few years, the genre has been popularized in mainstream film-making, owing to the critical and commercial success of films like Cloverfield, District 9, and Paranormal Activity.



The following films are in the found footage category, though some were only partially made in that style. Also listed are the films' directors, production company and release date.

Film Genre Director(s) Production company Release date (YY-MM-DD)
Cannibal Holocaust Adventure, Horror Ruggero Deodato F.D. Cinematografica 1980-02-07
Guinea Pig 2: Flower of Flesh and Blood Horror Hideshi Hino Sai Enterprise 1985-11-30
UFO Abduction Horror, Science fiction Dean Alioto IndieSyndicate Productions 1989–??-??
84C MoPic Drama, War Patrick Sheane Duncan New Century Vista Film Company 1989-04-07
Man Bites Dog Comedy, Crime, Drama, Horror, Thriller Rémy Belvaux
André Bonzel
Benoît Poelvoorde
Les Artistes Anonymes 1993-01-15
Forgotten Silver Comedy Peter Jackson WingNut Films 1995-10-28
Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County Drama, Horror, Science fiction Dean Alioto Dick Clark Productions 1998-01-20
The Last Broadcast Horror, Mystery Stefan Avalos
Lance Weiler
FFM Productions 1998-10-23
The Blair Witch Project Horror, Mystery Daniel Myrick
Eduardo Sánchez
Haxan Films 1999-07-30
The St. Francisville Experiment Horror, Mystery, Thriller Ted Nicolaou The Kushner-Locke Company 2000-04-15
August Underground Horror Fred Vogel Absu Films
Toetag Pictures
The Collingswood Story Horror, Mystery, Thriller Mike Costanza Cinerebel Media 2002-10-20
August Underground's Mordum Horror Fred Vogel
Cristie Whiles
Jerami Cruise
Michael T. Schneider
Toetag Pictures 2003–??-??
The Great American Snuff Film Horror Sean Tretta Ominous Productions 2003–??-??
Zero Day Drama Ben Coccio Professor Bright Films 2003-09-03
Incident at Loch Ness Adventure Zak Penn Eden Rock Media 2004-09-17
September Tapes Drama Christian Johnston Complex Films
Raz Productions
Raz Entertainment
Persistent Entertainment
The Last Horror Movie Horror Julian Richards Prolific Films
Snakehair Productions
The Curse Horror Kôji Shiraishi Xanadeux Company 2005-08-20
The Zombie Diaries Horror Kevin Gates
Michael Bartlett
Off World Films
Bleeding Edge Films
The Hunt Science fiction, Horror, Thriller Fritz Kiersch Graymark Productions
Azisa Pictures
Alone with Her Crime, Drama, Thriller Eric Nicholas Pin Hole Productions LLC
The Weinstein Company
Welcome to the Jungle Horror Jonathan Hensleigh Steelbridge Film Works
Bauer Martinez Studios
Valhalla Motion Pictures
The Poughkeepsie Tapes Horror John Erick Dowdle Brothers Dowdle Productions
Poughkeepsie Films
August Underground's Penance Horror Fred Vogel Toetag Pictures 2007-04-30
Long Pigs Horror Chris Power Clowns After Midnight Productions
Jordan Entertainment
Chris Bridges Effects Studio
Head Case Horror Anthony Spadaccini Fleet Street Films
B.P.A. Productions Group, Inc.
Exhibit A Drama, Thriller Dom Rotheroe Warp Films 2007-10-1
Paranormal Activity Supernatural horror Oren Peli Blumhouse Productions 2007-10-14
Death of a Ghost Hunter Horror Sean Tretta Ominous Productions 2007-10-28
Live! Drama Bill Guttentag Atlas Entertainment 2007-11-1
REC Horror Jaume Balagueró
Paco Plaza
Castelao Producciones
Look Adam Rifkin Captured Films 2007-12-14
Monster Action, Thriller Erik Estenberg The Asylum 2008-01-15
Cloverfield Science fiction, Monster film Matt Reeves Bad Robot Productions 2008-01-18
Diary of the Dead Horror George A. Romero Artfire Films
Romero-Grunwald Productions
Home Movie Horror Christopher Denham Modernciné 2008-07-10
Quarantine Science fiction, Horror John Erick Dowdle Vertigo Entertainment
Andale Pictures
Filmax Entertainment
Lunopolis Science fiction Matthew Avant Media Savant 2009–??-??
Occult Horror Kôji Shiraishi Image Rings
Creative Axa Company Ltd.
Evil Things Horror Dominic Perez Go Show Media 2009-08-13
District 9 Action, Science fiction Neill Blomkamp QED International
WingNut Films
The Ritual Drama Anthony Spadaccini Fleet Street Films
B.P.A. Productions Group, Inc.
REC 2 Horror Jaume Balagueró
Paco Plaza
Castelao Producciones
Murder Collection V.1[7] Horror Fred Vogel Toetag Pictures 2009-05-1
Paranormal Entity Supernatural horror Shane Van Dyke The Asylum 2009-12-22
Bachiatari Bōryoku Ningen Black Comedy Kōji Shiraishi Creative AXA 2012–??-??
Love Sex aur Dhokha Comedy, Drama Dibakar Banerjee Freshwater Films 2010-03-19
Lake Mungo Horror Joel Anderson Screen Australia 2010-03-23
Eyes in the Dark Horror Bjorn Anderson Emerald City Pictures 2010-04-25
A Serbian Film[8] Thriller, Exploitation Srdjan Spasojevic Contrafilm 2010-6-16
Hotel Hollywood Comedy, Horror Param Gill G S Productions 2010-07-23
Shirome Horror Kôji Shiraishi Stardust Promotion
Shirome Project Partners
The Last Exorcism Horror Daniel Stamm Strike Entertainment
Arcade Pictures
Undocumented Horror Chris Peckover Sheperd Glen Productions 2010-09-??
The Virginity Hit Comedy Huck Botko & Andrew Gurland Gary Sanchez Productions 2010-09-10
8213: Gacy House Horror Anthony Fankhauser The Asylum 2010-09-28
Atrocious Horror Fernando Barreda Luna Nabu Films
Silencio Rodamos
Programa Ibermedia
Paranormal Activity 2 Supernatural horror Tod Williams Blumhouse Productions 2010-10-22
Trollhunter Fantasy, Monster film André Øvredal Filmkameratene A/S
Film Fund FUZZ
Unaware Science fiction, Horror Sean Bardin
Robert Cooley
Cooley Productions 2010-11-13
Paranormal Activity 2: Tokyo Night Supernatural horror Toshikazu Nagae Presidio Corporation 2010-11-20
Anneliese: The Exorcist Tapes Horror Jude Gerard Prest The Asylum 2011-03-01
Ragini MMS Drama, Horror Pawan Kripalani Balaji Telefilms 2011-03-13
The Tunnel Horror Carlo Ledesma DLSHS Film
Distracted Media
Zapruder's Other Films
Megan Is Missing Drama, Horror Michael Goi Trio Pictures 2011-05-??
Grave Encounters Horror The Vicious Brothers Twin Engine Films 2011-06-01
World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries Horror Kevin Gates
Michael Bartlett
Off World Films
Bleeding Edge Films
Straightwire Films
Hollow Horror Michael Axelgaard Hollow Pictures
Tribeca Film
Untitled Drama, Horror Shaun Troke Shaunywa Films 2011-09 -??
Apollo 18 Science fiction, Horror Gonzalo López-Gallego Bazelevs 2011-09-02
The Tapes Horror Scott Bates
Lee Alliston
Darkside Pictures
Pure Film Productions
Paranormal Activity 3 Supernatural horror Henry Joost
Ariel Schulman
Blumhouse 2011-10-21
The Amityville Haunting Horror Geoff Meed The Asylum
Taut Productions
Chō Akunin Drama Kōji Shiraishi Tokyo Raiders 2011–??-??
The Devil Inside Supernatural horror William Brent Bell Insurge Pictures 2012-01-06
V/H/S Horror Ti West
Joe Swanberg
David Buckner
Adam Wingard
Glenn McQuaid
Radio Silence Productions
The Collective
Bloody Disgusting
Chronicle Science fiction, Superhero, Thriller Josh Trank Davis Entertainment 2012-02-01
Project X Comedy Nima Nourizadeh Silver Pictures
Green Hat Films
Evidence Horror Howie Askins RynoRyder Productions 2012-03-12
Hate Crime Horror James Cullen Bressack Psykik Junky Pictures 2013–??-??
REC 3: Genesis Horror Paco Plaza Filmax 2012-03-30
Apartment 143 Horror Carles Torrens Werc Werk Works
Kasdan Pictures
Likely Story
100 Ghost Street: The Return of Richard Speck Horror Martin Anderson The Asylum 2012-7-24
The Dinosaur Project Adventure Sid Bennett Moonlighting Films 2012-08-10
Frost Horror Reynir Lyngdal 2012-09-07
A Night in the Woods Horror Richard Parry Richard Parry 2012-09-07
End of Watch Thriller, Police Procedural David Ayer StudioCanal 2012-09-08
The Conspiracy Horror Christopher MacBride Resolute Films and Entertainment 2012-09-20
Grave Encounters 2 Horror John Poliquin Arclight Films 2012-10-02
Paranormal Activity 4 Supernatural horror Henry Joost
Ariel Schulman
Room 101 2012-10-19
The Bay Science fiction, Horror Barry Levinson Lionsgate 2012-11-02
A Haunted House Comedy Michael Tiddes Open Road Films 2013-01-11
The Upper Footage Crime, Drama, Thriller Justin Cole 2013-01-31
Devil's Pass Horror Renny Harlin Aldamisa Entertainment
Alexander Rodnyansky
Non-Stop Productions
Midnight Sun Pictures
K. Jam Media
The Frankenstein Theory Horror Andrew Weiner Rocket
Inner Station
Therapy Content
Arctic Film Group
Cult Horror Kôji Shiraishi 2013-04-04
Willow Creek Horror Bobcat Goldthwait Jerkschool Productions 2013-04-29
V/H/S/2 Horror Simon Barrett
Jason Eisener
Gareth Evans
Gregg Hale
Eduardo Sánchez
Timo Tjahjanto
Adam Wingard
The Collective
Bloody Disgusting
8383 Productions
Snoot Entertainment
Haxan Films
Yer Dead Productions
Europa Report Science fiction Sebastián Cordero Wayfare Entertainment Ventures 2013-08-02
The Borderlands Horror Elliot Goldner Metrodome Distribution 2013-08-24
Head Cases: Serial Killers in the Delaware Valley Horror Anthony Spadaccini Fleet Street Films
B.P.A. Productions Group, Inc.
Sx_Tape Horror Bernard Rose Aeroplano
La.Lune Entertainment
6-5=2 Horror KS Ashoka Swarnalatha Production[9] 2013-11-29
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones Supernatural horror Christopher Landon Paramount Pictures 2014-01-03
Devil's Due Supernatural horror Matt Bettinelli-Olpin
Tyler Gillett
Davis Entertainment
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Exists Horror Eduardo Sánchez Lionsgate
Haxan Films
Court Five
The Den Horror Zachary Donohue Cliffbrook Films
Onset Films
Afflicted Horror Derek Lee
Clif Prowse
Automatik Entertainment
Téléfilm Canada
Babysitting Comedy Nicolas Benamou
Philippe Lacheau
Axel Films
Madame Films
Cinéfrance 1888
Good Lap Production
A Haunted House 2 Horror comedy Michael Tiddes IM Global Octane
Wayans Bros. Entertainment
Baby Way Productions
The Sacrament Horror Ti West Worldview Entertainment
Arcade Pictures
Alien Abduction Horror Matty Beckerman Exclusive Media Group
Big Picture
Next Entertainment
Lawrence Bender Productions
Mob Scene Creative Productions
Inner Demons Horror Seth Grossman Schorr Pictures 2014-06-14
Earth to Echo Science fiction, Family Dave Green Relativity Media 2014-07-02
Into the Storm Disaster film Steven Quale New Line Cinema
Village Roadshow Pictures
The Possession of Michael King Horror David Jung Gold Circle Films
Quickfire Films
As Above, So Below Horror, Thriller John Erick Dowdle Universal Pictures
Legendary Pictures
Wer Horror William Brent Bell FilmDistrict 2014-09-23
Gore, Quebec[10] Horror Jean Benoit Lauzon Green Lake Films 2014-10-14
The Taking of Deborah Logan Horror Adam Robitel Eagle Films
Millenium Entertainment
Hangar 10 Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller Daniel Simpson Newscope Films 2014-10-22
REC 4: Apocalypse Horror Jaume Balagueró Canal+ España 2014-10-31
V/H/S: Viral Horror Nacho Vigalondo
Marcel Sarmiento
Gregg Bishop
Justin Benson
Todd Lincoln
Bloody Disgusting
The Collective
Haxan Films
The Pyramid Supernatural horror Grégory Levasseur Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation 2014-12-05
The Atticus Institute Horror Chris Sparling SND Groupe M6 2015-01-23
Project Almanac Science fiction adventure Dean Israelite Insurge Pictures
Platinum Dunes
MTV Films
Demonic Horror Will Canon Icon Entertainment International
First Point Entertainment
IM Global
Ghoul Horror Petr Jákl jr. J.B.J Film 2015-02-26
Be My Cat: A Film for Anne Horror, Psychological Thriller Adrian Țofei Adrian Țofei 2015-03-01
Creep Horror comedy Patrick Brice Blumhouse Productions 2015-03-08
Nightlight Horror-thriller Scott Beck, Bryan Woods Herrick Entertainment 2015-03-27[11]
The Final Project Supernatural horror Taylor Ri'chard Cavu Pictures 2015-04-16[12]
Unfriended Supernatural Horror Universal Studios
Blumhouse Productions
Area 51 Science fiction horror Oren Peli Paramount Pictures 2015-05-15
The Cutting Room Horror Warren Dudley Itchy Fish Film 2015-06-??
The Gallows Supernatural Horror Travis Cluff, Chris Lofing New Line Cinema
Blumhouse Productions
Management 360
Tremendum Pictures
The Visit Horror M. Night Shyamalan Blinding Edge Pictures
Blumhouse Productions
Universal Pictures
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension Supernatural horror Gregory Plotkin Paramount Pictures 2015-10-23
Aksbandh Horror Emran Hussain Cinematic Media 2016-04-20
Blair Witch Horror Adam Wingard Lionsgate Pictures 2016-09-16
Unfriended 2 Supernatural horror BH Productions
Universal Studios

TV series and made-for-TV specials

Music videos

See also


  1. Bordwell, David (13 November 2012). "Return to Paranormalcy". Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  2. "Found Footage Film Genre – Found Footage Critic". Found Footage Critic. Found Footage Critic [Michael Steinberg]. Retrieved 2016-01-14.
  3. Eggertsen, Chris. "From 'Blair Witch' to 'Project Almanac': A history of the found footage genre". Hitflix. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  4. Tobias, Scott. "V/H/S". AV Club. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  5. "Editorial: An Apologist's Rant: In Defense of Found Footage". Dread Central. Retrieved 2012-04-27.
  6. Topel, Fred. "Christopher Landon interview". Crave. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  7. Alexandra Heller-Nicholas (2014). Found Footage Horror Films: Fear and the Appearance of Reality. McFarland & Company. p. 194. ISBN 9780786470778. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  8. Found footage horror films: fear and the appearance of reality, Alexandra Heller-Nicholas Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, [2014]
  9. 6-5=27.140 personen vinden dit leuk · 544 praten hierover. "6-5=2". Facebook. Retrieved 2013-12-28.
  10. Brownridge, William (13 November 2014). "Review: Gore, Quebec". Toronto Film Scene. Retrieved 13 December 2014.
  11. found footage flick Nightlight
  12. Fuelier, Herman (2015-04-15). "Church Point native directs horror film in local setting". The Daily Advertiser. Retrieved 2016-02-20.

External links

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