Found footage (film technique)

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Found footage is a film subgenre in which all or a substantial part of the work 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 added realism, 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 , REC , Cloverfield ), 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 science-fiction (e.g., Chronicle , Project Almanac , Europa Report ), drama (e.g., Zero Day , Exhibit A ), comedy (e.g., Project X ) and family (e.g., Earth to Echo ) films.

Although found footage was originally the name of an entirely different genre, it is now frequently used to describe pseudo-documentaries crafted 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 . Film scholar David Bordwell criticizes this recent usage, arguing that it sows confusion, and instead prefers the term "discovered footage" for the narrative gimmick. [1]

Found-footage films typically employ one or more of four cinematic techniquesfirst-person perspective, pseudo-documentary or mockumentary, news footage, or surveillance footage—according to an analysis of 500 found-footage films conducted by Found Footage Critic. [2]


As a plot device, found footage 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 Cannibal Holocaust (1980), the first horror film using this technique Ruggero Deodato 2008.jpg
Italian director Ruggero Deodato revolutionized the found footage style of narrative filmmaking with Cannibal Holocaust (1980), the first horror film using this technique

In filmmaking, the 1980 cult horror feature Cannibal Holocaust is often claimed to be the first example of found footage. [3] The device was popularised by The Blair Witch Project (1999). [4] Found footage has since been used in other commercially-successful films, including Paranormal Activity (2007), REC (2007), Cloverfield (2008) and Chronicle (2012). [5] Reviewing V/H/S for The A.V. Club, Scott Tobia notes that the genre "has since become to the ’00s and ’10s what slasher movies were to the ’80s." [6]

The genre appeals to film producers because of its lower cost, as it is believed the illusion of amateur documentary style allows lower production values than would be accepted on a conventional film.

Writer-director Christopher B. Landon, who has made several found footage horror films, posits that the genre is likely to extend in the future outside horror. [7]



The following entries are notable films in the found footage genre, though some were only partially made in that style.

TitleRelease dateGenreDirector(s)Production company
The Connection (1961 film) 1961-05-??Drama Shirley Clarke The Connection Company
Cannibal Holocaust 1980-02-07Adventure, Horror Ruggero Deodato F.D. Cinematografica
Guinea Pig 2: Flower of Flesh and Blood 1985-11-30Horror Hideshi Hino Sai Enterprise
UFO Abduction 1989–??-??Horror, Science fictionDean AliotoIndieSyndicate Productions
84C MoPic 1989-04-07Drama, War Patrick Sheane Duncan New Century Vista Film Company
Man Bites Dog 1993-01-15Comedy, Crime, Drama, Horror, Thriller Rémy Belvaux
André Bonzel
Benoît Poelvoorde
Les Artistes Anonymes
Forgotten Silver 1995-10-28Mockumentary Peter Jackson WingNut Films
Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County 1998-01-20Drama, Horror, Science fictionDean Alioto Dick Clark Productions
The Last Broadcast 1998-10-23Horror, Mystery Stefan Avalos
Lance Weiler
FFM Productions
The Blair Witch Project 1999-07-30Horror, Mystery Daniel Myrick
Eduardo Sánchez
Haxan Films
The St. Francisville Experiment 2000-04-15Horror, Mystery, Thriller Ted Nicolaou The Kushner-Locke Company
Gang Tapes 2001-02-01Drama, CrimeAdam RippLionsgate
August Underground 2001–??-??HorrorFred VogelAbsu Films
Toetag Pictures
The Collingswood Story 2002-10-20Horror, Mystery, Thriller Mike Costanza Cinerebel Media
August Underground's Mordum 2003–??-??HorrorFred Vogel
Cristie Whiles
Jerami Cruise
Michael T. Schneider
Toetag Pictures
The Great American Snuff Film 2003–??-??HorrorSean TrettaOminous Productions
Zero Day 2003-09-03Drama Ben Coccio Professor Bright Films
Incident at Loch Ness 2004-09-17Adventure Zak Penn Eden Rock Media
September Tapes 2004-09-24DramaChristian JohnstonComplex Films
Raz Productions
Raz Entertainment
Persistent Entertainment
The Last Horror Movie 2005-05-13Horror Julian Richards Prolific Films
Snakehair Productions
The Curse 2005-08-20Horror Kōji Shiraishi Xanadeux Company
The Zombie Diaries 2006-10-29HorrorKevin Gates
Michael Bartlett
Off World Films
Bleeding Edge Films
The Hunt 2006-12-11Science fiction, Horror, Thriller Fritz Kiersch Graymark Productions
Azisa Pictures
Alone with Her 2007-01-17Crime, Drama, ThrillerEric NicholasPin Hole Productions LLC
The Weinstein Company
Welcome to the Jungle 2007-04-19Horror Jonathan Hensleigh Steelbridge Film Works
Bauer Martinez Studios
Valhalla Motion Pictures
The Poughkeepsie Tapes 2007-04-27Horror John Erick Dowdle Brothers Dowdle Productions
Poughkeepsie Films
August Underground's Penance 2007-04-30HorrorFred VogelToetag Pictures
Long Pigs 2007-09-06HorrorChris PowerClowns After Midnight Productions
Jordan Entertainment
Chris Bridges Effects Studio
Head Case 2007-09-08Horror Anthony Spadaccini Fleet Street Films
B.P.A. Productions Group, Inc.
Exhibit A 2007-10-01Drama, ThrillerDom Rotheroe Warp Films
Paranormal Activity 2007-10-14Supernatural horror Oren Peli Blumhouse Productions
Death of a Ghost Hunter 2007-10-28HorrorSean TrettaOminous Productions
Live! 2007-11-01DramaBill Guttentag Atlas Entertainment
REC 2007-11-23Horror Jaume Balagueró
Paco Plaza
Castelao Producciones
Look 2007-12-14Drama Adam Rifkin Captured Films
Monster 2008-01-15Action, ThrillerErik Estenberg The Asylum
Cloverfield 2008-01-18Science fiction, Monster film Matt Reeves Bad Robot Productions
Diary of the Dead 2008-02-15Horror George A. Romero Artfire Films
Romero-Grunwald Productions
Home Movie 2008-07-10Horror Christopher Denham Modernciné
Quarantine 2008-10-10Science fiction, HorrorJohn Erick Dowdle Vertigo Entertainment
Andale Pictures
Filmax Entertainment
Lunopolis 2009–??-??Science fictionMatthew AvantMedia Savant
Occult 2009-02-28HorrorKōji ShiraishiImage Rings
Creative Axa Company Ltd.
Evil Things 2009-08-13HorrorDominic PerezGo Show Media
District 9 2009-08-13Action, Science fiction Neill Blomkamp QED International
WingNut Films
The Ritual 2009-08-15DramaAnthony SpadacciniFleet Street Films
B.P.A. Productions Group, Inc.
Trash Humpers 2009-9-12Comedy, Drama, Horror Harmony Korine Alcove Entertainment
Warp Films
O' Salvation
REC 2 2009-10-02HorrorJaume Balagueró
Paco Plaza
Castelao Producciones
Murder Collection V.1 [8] 2009-05-1HorrorFred Vogel Toetag Pictures
Paranormal Entity 2009-12-22Supernatural horror Shane Van Dyke The Asylum
Bachiatari Bōryoku Ningen 2012–??-??Black Comedy Kōji Shiraishi Creative AXA
Love Sex aur Dhokha 2010-03-19Comedy, Drama Dibakar Banerjee Freshwater Films
Lake Mungo 2010-03-23Horror Joel Anderson Screen Australia
Eyes in the Dark 2010-04-25Horror Bjorn Anderson Emerald City Pictures
Hotel Hollywood 2010-07-23Comedy, Horror Param Gill G S Productions
Shirome 2010-08-13HorrorKōji Shiraishi Stardust Promotion
Shirome Project Partners
The Last Exorcism 2010-08-27Horror Daniel Stamm Strike Entertainment
Arcade Pictures
Undocumented 2010-09-??HorrorChris PeckoverSheperd Glen Productions
The Virginity Hit 2010-09-10ComedyHuck Botko & Andrew Gurland Gary Sanchez Productions
8213: Gacy House 2010-09-28HorrorAnthony Fankhauser The Asylum
Atrocious 2010-10-15HorrorFernando Barreda LunaNabu Films
Silencio Rodamos
Programa Ibermedia
Paranormal Activity 2 2010-10-22Supernatural horror Tod Williams Blumhouse Productions
Trollhunter 2010-10-29Fantasy, Monster filmAndré ØvredalFilmkameratene A/S
Film Fund FUZZ
Unaware 2010-11-13Science fiction, HorrorSean Bardin
Robert Cooley
Cooley Productions
Paranormal Activity 2: Tokyo Night 2010-11-20Supernatural horrorToshikazu NagaePresidio Corporation
Anneliese: The Exorcist Tapes 2011-03-01HorrorJude Gerard PrestThe Asylum
Ragini MMS 2011-03-13Drama, HorrorPawan KripalaniBalaji Telefilms
The Tunnel 2011-05-18HorrorCarlo LedesmaDLSHS Film
Distracted Media
Zapruder's Other Films
Megan Is Missing 2011-05-??Drama, HorrorMichael GoiTrio Pictures
Grave Encounters 2011-06-01Horror The Vicious Brothers Twin Engine Films
World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries 2011-06-24HorrorKevin Gates
Michael Bartlett
Off World Films
Bleeding Edge Films
Straightwire Films
Hollow 2011-07-31HorrorMichael AxelgaardHollow Pictures
Tribeca Film
Untitled 2011-09-??Drama, Horror Shaun Troke Shaunywa Films
Apollo 18 2011-09-02Science fiction, Horror Gonzalo López-Gallego Bazelevs
The Tapes 2011-09-23HorrorScott Bates
Lee Alliston
Darkside Pictures
Pure Film Productions
The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) 2011-10-04Horror Tom Six IFC Midnight
Paranormal Activity 3 2011-10-21Supernatural horrorHenry Joost
Ariel Schulman
The Amityville Haunting 2011-12-??HorrorGeoff MeedThe Asylum
Taut Productions
Chō Akunin 2011–??-??Drama Kōji Shiraishi Tokyo Raiders
The Devil Inside 2012-01-06Supernatural horror William Brent Bell Insurge Pictures
V/H/S 2012-01-22Horror Ti West
Joe Swanberg
David Buckner
Adam Wingard
Glenn McQuaid
Radio Silence Productions
The Collective
Bloody Disgusting
Chronicle 2012-02-01Science fiction, Superhero, Thriller Josh Trank Davis Entertainment
Project X 2012-03-02Comedy Nima Nourizadeh Silver Pictures
Green Hat Films
Evidence 2012-03-12HorrorHowie AskinsRynoRyder Productions
Hate Crime 2013–??-??Horror James Cullen Bressack Psykik Junky Pictures
Apartment 143 2012-05-04HorrorCarles Torrens Werc Werk Works
Kasdan Pictures
Likely Story
Chernobyl Diaries 2012-05-25HorrorBrad Parker Lionsgate
Warner Bros.
100 Ghost Street: The Return of Richard Speck 2012-07-24HorrorMartin Anderson The Asylum
The Dinosaur Project 2012-08-10Adventure Sid Bennett Moonlighting Films
Frost 2012-09-07Horror Reynir Lyngdal
A Night in the Woods 2012-09-07Horror Richard Parry Richard Parry
End of Watch 2012-09-08Thriller, Police Procedural David Ayer StudioCanal
The Conspiracy 2012-09-20HorrorChristopher MacBrideResolute Films and Entertainment
Grave Encounters 2 2012-10-02Horror John Poliquin Arclight Films
Paranormal Activity 4 2012-10-19Supernatural horror Henry Joost
Ariel Schulman
Room 101
The Bay 2012-11-02Science fiction, Horror Barry Levinson Lionsgate
30 Nights of Paranormal Activity with the Devil Inside the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 2013–01-15Horror comedy parody Craig Moss
A Haunted House 2013-01-11Comedy, Horror, Parody Michael Tiddes Open Road Films
The Upper Footage 2013-01-31Crime, Drama, Thriller Justin Cole
Dabbe: Curse of the Jinn 2013-08-2Super natural, Horror Hasan Karacadağ Hasan Karacadağ
Devil's Pass 2013-02-28Horror Renny Harlin Aldamisa Entertainment
Alexander Rodnyansky
Non-Stop Productions
Midnight Sun Pictures
K. Jam Media
The Frankenstein Theory 2013-03-01Horror Andrew Weiner Rocket
Inner Station
Therapy Content
Arctic Film Group
Cult 2013-04-04HorrorKōji Shiraishi
Scary Movie 5 2013-04-12Comedy, Horror, Parody Malcolm D. Lee
David Zucker
Dimension Films
The Weinstein Company
Zucker Productions
Willow Creek 2013-04-29Horror Bobcat Goldthwait Jerkschool Productions
V/H/S/2 2013-06-06Horror 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 2013-08-02Science fiction Sebastián Cordero Wayfare Entertainment Ventures
The Borderlands 2013-08-24HorrorElliot GoldnerMetrodome Distribution
The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill 2013-08-24HorrorKevin Gates
Michael Bartlett
Second Sight Films
Head Cases: Serial Killers in the Delaware Valley 2013-09-28Horror Anthony Spadaccini Fleet Street Films
B.P.A. Productions Group, Inc.
The Dirties 2013-10-04Comedy-drama Matt Johnson SModcast Pictures
Sx Tape 2013-10-10Horror Bernard Rose Aeroplano
La.Lune Entertainment
Hooked Up 2013-10-15Spanish comedy horror Pablo Larcuen Uncork'd Entertainment
Skinwalker Ranch 2013-10-30Horror, Mystery, Sci-FiDevin McGinn
Steve Berg
6-5=2 2013-11-29Horror KS Ashoka Swarnalatha Production [9]
Best Night Ever 2013-12-26Comedy Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer Magnet Releasing
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones 2014-01-03Supernatural horror Christopher Landon Paramount Pictures
Devil's Due 2014-01-17Supernatural horror Matt Bettinelli-Olpin
Tyler Gillett
Davis Entertainment
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Black Water Vampire 2014-01-24HorrorEvan TramelBWV Productions
Ruthless Pictures
Exists 2014-03-07Horror Eduardo Sánchez Lionsgate
Haxan Films
Court Five
Open Windows 2014-03-10 Technothriller Nacho Vigalondo Antena 3 Films
Apaches Entertainment
Spiderwood Studios
Wild Bunch
The Den 2014-03-14HorrorZachary DonohueCliffbrook Films
Onset Films
Afflicted 2014-04-04HorrorDerek Lee
Clif Prowse
Automatik Entertainment
Téléfilm Canada
Babysitting 2014-04-16ComedyNicolas Benamou
Philippe Lacheau
Axel Films
Madame Films
Cinéfrance 1888
Good Lap Production
A Haunted House 2 2014-04-18Comedy, Horror, Parody Michael Tiddes IM Global Octane
Wayans Bros. Entertainment
Baby Way Productions
The Sacrament 2014-05-01Horror Ti West Worldview Entertainment
Arcade Pictures
Alien Abduction 2014-05-04HorrorMatty Beckerman Exclusive Media Group
Big Picture
Next Entertainment
Lawrence Bender Productions
Mob Scene Creative Productions
Inner Demons 2014-06-14HorrorSeth GrossmanSchorr Pictures
Earth to Echo 2014-07-02Science fiction, FamilyDave Green Relativity Media
Into the Storm 2014-08-08Disaster filmSteven Quale New Line Cinema
Village Roadshow Pictures
The Possession of Michael King 2014-08-22HorrorDavid Jung Gold Circle Films
Quickfire Films
As Above, So Below 2014-08-29Horror, Thriller John Erick Dowdle Universal Pictures
Legendary Pictures
The Hunted 2014-09-09Thriller Josh Stewart Fortress Features
Allegheny Image Factory
Gore, Quebec [10] 2014-10-14HorrorJean Benoit LauzonGreen Lake Films
The Taking of Deborah Logan 2014-10-21HorrorAdam RobitelEagle Films
Millennium Entertainment
Hangar 10 2014-10-22Horror, Sci-Fi, ThrillerDaniel SimpsonNewscope Films
V/H/S: Viral 2014-11-21HorrorNacho Vigalondo
Marcel Sarmiento
Gregg Bishop
Justin Benson
Todd Lincoln
Bloody Disgusting
The Collective
Haxan Films
The Pyramid 2014-12-05Supernatural horror Grégory Levasseur Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
The Atticus Institute 2015-01-23Horror Chris Sparling SND Groupe M6
Project Almanac 2015-01-30Science fiction adventure Dean Israelite Insurge Pictures
Platinum Dunes
MTV Films
Ghoul 2015-02-26HorrorPetr Jákl jr.J.B.J Film
Creep 2015-03-08Horror comedy Patrick Brice Blumhouse Productions
Nightlight 2015-03-27 [11] Horror-thriller Scott Beck, Bryan Woods Herrick Entertainment
The Final Project 2015-04-16 [12] Supernatural horror Taylor Ri'chard Cavu Pictures
Unfriended 2015-04-17Supernatural Horror Levan Gabriadze Universal Studios
Blumhouse Productions
Area 51 2015-05-15Science fiction horror Oren Peli Paramount Pictures
The Phoenix Incident 2015-06-16Documentary, Mystery, Sci-FiKeith AremPCB Productions
The Cutting Room 2015-06-??HorrorWarren DudleyItchy Fish Film
The Gallows 2015-07-10Supernatural HorrorTravis Cluff, Chris Lofing New Line Cinema
Blumhouse Productions
Management 360
Tremendum Pictures
JeruZalem 2015-07-10Supernatural HorrorDoron Paz
Yoav Paz
Universal Pictures
The Visit 2015-09-11Horror M. Night Shyamalan Blinding Edge Pictures
Blumhouse Productions
Universal Pictures
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension 2015-10-23Supernatural horrorGregory Plotkin Paramount Pictures
Unlisted Owner 2016–??-??HorrorJed BrianLawford County Productions
Aksbandh 2016-04-20HorrorEmran HussainCinematic Media
Population Zero 2016-04-26HorrorAdam LevinsA71 Entertainment
Operation Avalanche 2016-09-16ThrillerMatt JohnsonVice Films
Blair Witch 2016-09-16Horror Adam Wingard Lionsgate Pictures
Be My Cat: A Film for Anne 2016-12-05 [13] HorrorAdrian ȚofeiAdrian Țofei
The Dark Tapes 2017-03-17Sci-Fi & Supernatural HorrorMichael McQuownEpic Pictures Group
Phoenix Forgotten 2017-04-21Horror, Mystery, Sci-FiJustin BarberCinelou Films
Scott Free Productions
#FromJennifer 2017-9-26Horror comedyFrank MerleLone Morsel Productions
Found Footage 3D 2017-10-12HorrorSteven DeGennaroThe Ubiquitous Studio 42
Unfriended: Dark Web 2018-03-09Supernatural horror Stephen Susco BH Productions
Universal Studios
The Devil's Doorway 2018-05-25Supernatural horrorAislinn Clarke23ten
The Other Side of the Wind 2018-08-31Comedy, Drama Orson Welles Royal Road Entertainment
Searching 2018-08-31Thriller, Mystery, Drama Aneesh Chaganty Bazelevs Company

Screen Gems

Stage 6 Films

Vazhiye 2020-??-??Horror, Mystery, Thriller Nirmal Baby Varghese Casablanca Film Factory
Dwellers (film) 2020-??-??Horror Drew Fortier
Ellefson Films

TV series, made-for-TV specials and TV episodes

Music videos

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 Though the episode was animated, it is done in the style of found footage.

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