What qualifies me to give the state of Found Footage film making address?
Have I ever made one?
Would I make on?
Sure, but not in the horror genre and not pure found footage.
Now back to the address. I am qualified because I spend almost an entire year writing a book on the subject. I interview dozens of low budget filmmakers for the book and sat through almost two hundred found footage films. I am a found footage war vet. I am the American Sniper of found footage films. When one is about to come out I get sent trailers and screening passes. I watch the trailers and never go to the screenings. Well until I got a pass for the new Blair Witch. I try my best to encourage film makers and rarely criticize them, but in this case... WHAT THE HELL? Scream, fall down dead and get dragged away. Lucky we have multiple cameras present or else we would not be able to scream, fall down dead and get dragged away some more and more and more and again. We are talking Eat, Sleep, Suplex, repeat.
The state of found footage on the big screen comes down to this that during the last three years the only film maker who cracked the code (I am from Philly and have seen the guy) is that legendary waster of movie goers time and studio's money M. Night. Yeah, The Visit points us in a direction that we needed to go if we are going to save this genre for future generation to suffer through. It works because it broke the unwritten rule about death. The leads do not have to die. The kids in that film survive because they behave like human beings, not puppets, when trouble strikes they actual use reason to survive it. I suppose that the lesson from the Visit takes us back to the first Blair witch Project. The movie is character-driven. The kids drive the film in the same way that heather drove the events in The Blair Witch. These two movies also have natural humor. Think about both films and I would bet that you can recall every major character in the films. Can you do that with any other found footage film? Maybe Paranormal activity, but come on there are only two real people in the first movie. Perhaps character driven is the way to go save this genre.
Found footage films are still films. To make a good found footage film you have to go out and make a good film that happens to be found footage. Go found footage only if it enhances the story like in the movie End of Watch. Remember there is also the footage film where no one was harming during the making of the film. With the ability to shoot world class footage with a smartphone the possibilities are endless. To conclude this post I believe that going back into the past to try to copy the success of the Blair Witch Project was a tactical mistake that will hurt the genre in the short term while looking into the past for inspiration in the form of another new film could be part of the answer. Operation Avalanche.