This article is part of our 2020 return. Follow us as we discover the best and most interesting movies, shows, performances, and more that have been released in this very strange year. In this post, we examine how 2020 Found Footage made movies interesting again.
While major film productions have been stopped and delayed due to COVID-19, that doesn’t mean all filmmaking has been stopped. Horror filmmakers trapped in their homes for the safety of themselves and others have allowed isolation to fuel creativity as they discover new ways to create genre filmmaking without ever leaving their homes. Zoom becomes their studio, and high-quality footage is replaced with the grainy, low-quality images that result from recording a video call.
Not only are these films creative at making inexpensive but also effective horrors that are limited to the scope of a webcam or cell phone video. They are able to take over the home space, the place everyone must stay in the name of safety and health, and make it even more threatening. While the creepy home is a common horror problem, these 2020 footage films compound it even more because there is no way you can really escape. They are either the creatures that live in your home or the virus at your door that threatens the lives of you and those you love.
The best example of such filmmaking is Rob Savage‘s hostwhich started as a short video uploaded to Twitter. In the original video, which was a prank created and executed by Savage, he tells his friends on Zoom that he heard something in his attic. His friends, who believe that it is real, are forced to follow him up a ladder to the attic and experience the horror of his “discovery”.
Savage’s prank video went viral and he was given the opportunity to turn it into a feature that was filmed entirely remotely. The actors were sent microphones and other necessary equipment that they set up themselves. Everyone in front of the camera was a one-person production team who created their own sound, lighting, and more. It’s a collaborative process, more so than any Hollywood release, as every actor has been forced to acquire new skills and invest their time and energy not only in their performances, but also in set design, sound design and more.
Every other year, his short film may have flown under the radar, gaining some devoted fans and many comparisons to films like The Den and the Unfriended series. But in the context of 2020 the short film hit our bones. We all spend hours in Zoom meetings with colleagues or loved ones. Zoom is our connection to the rest of the world. At a time when so many of us are disconnected from our support system, what is more frightening than the means by which personal connections become corrupted and deadly? In making that one weak connection terrible, Savage has capitalized on our current cultural fears and fears.
But Host isn’t the only piece of filmmaking this year that has pushed the boundaries of creativity in the pandemic. Director and writer Michael Varrati He also created his own queer pandemic short, this time about trying to find love at a time when it is dangerous to meet in person. Unusual bond was also shot from a distance. Unlike Host, this movie had a custom user interface to reproduce the user experience of websites like ChatRoulette. With such a detailed graphics treatment, it is even more difficult to distinguish between the cinematic world and the digital world that we are so used to.
Another unexpected side of creativity and genre filmmaking is the short-form video app TikTok. During the pandemic, both professional creators and amateurs used iPhones to publish their horror creations and seemingly true horror stories. Creator @shortestblockbusters opened their account in April and is using the 15 second limit to demonstrate their amazing animation and CGI skills by creating horrific monsters. On the other end of the spectrum, users like @smitherenes, @readmybioyo, and @ gabrielle.quinn have posted their own seemingly real experiences with ghosts. This app embodies the idea of the found footage in real time as each TikTok user usually discovers these videos for themselves.
The nice thing about TikTok is the authenticity of its content. Without obvious animation, it is difficult to tell what an actual supernatural event or carefully produced moment of horror is. This makes these videos all the more terrifying as everything could be real – if you believe in the supernatural. With access to a video camera in our pockets and plenty of free time, anyone can make horror films or record what appears to be actual footage of ghosts.
Despite the bad rap found footage films have received over the years, 2020 was evidence of the power of these low-budget filming techniques. In the context of a turbulent and extremely isolating year, found footage is experiencing a revival. Filmmakers like Rob Savage and Michael Varrati have shown how elastic and malleable technology is and how it can extend into digital space. If you’ve hated Zoom before, now maybe you can hate it even more.