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]


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 A.V. Club, Scott Tobia notes 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 such well-known films as Paranormal Activity (2007), REC (2007), Cloverfield (2008) and Chronicle (2012).[5]

The genre appeals to 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 Landon, who has made several found footage horror films, posits that the genre is likely to extend in the future outside horror.[6]



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
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
Gang Tapes Drama, Crime Adam Ripp Lionsgate 2001-02-01
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 Kōji 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 2007-10-01
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 2007-11-01
REC Horror Jaume Balagueró
Paco Plaza
Castelao Producciones
Look Drama 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 Kōji 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.
Trash Humpers Comedy, Drama, Horror Harmony Korine Alcove Entertainment
Warp Films
O' Salvation
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
Hotel Hollywood Comedy, Horror Param Gill G S Productions 2010-07-23
Shirome Horror Kōji 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
The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) Horror Tom Six IFC Midnight 2011-10-04
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–??-??
Apartment 143 Horror Carles Torrens Werc Werk Works
Kasdan Pictures
Likely Story
Chernobyl Diaries Horror Brad Parker Lionsgate
Warner Bros.
100 Ghost Street: The Return of Richard Speck Horror Martin Anderson The Asylum 2012-07-24
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
30 Nights of Paranormal Activity with the Devil Inside the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Horror comedy parody Craig Moss 2013–01-15
A Haunted House Comedy, Horror, Parody Michael Tiddes Open Road Films 2013-01-11
The Upper Footage Crime, Drama, Thriller Justin Cole 2013-01-31
Dabbe: Curse of the Jinn Super natural, Horror Hasan Karacadağ Hasan Karacadağ 2013-08-2
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 Kōji Shiraishi 2013-04-04
Scary Movie 5 Comedy, Horror, Parody Malcolm D. Lee
David Zucker
Dimension Films
The Weinstein Company
Zucker Productions
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
The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill Horror Kevin Gates
Michael Bartlett
Second Sight Films 2013-08-24
Head Cases: Serial Killers in the Delaware Valley Horror Anthony Spadaccini Fleet Street Films
B.P.A. Productions Group, Inc.
The Dirties Comedy-drama Matt Johnson SModcast Pictures 2013-10-04
Sx Tape Horror Bernard Rose Aeroplano
La.Lune Entertainment
Hooked Up Spanish comedy horror Pablo Larcuen Uncork'd Entertainment 2013-10-15
Skinwalker Ranch Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi Devin McGinn
Steve Berg
DeepStudios 2013-10-30
6-5=2 Horror KS Ashoka Swarnalatha Production[8] 2013-11-29
Best Night Ever Comedy Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer Magnet Releasing 2013-12-26
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
Black Water Vampire Horror Evan Tramel BWV Productions
Ruthless Pictures
Exists Horror Eduardo Sánchez Lionsgate
Haxan Films
Court Five
Open Windows Technothriller Nacho Vigalondo Antena 3 Films
Apaches Entertainment
Spiderwood Studios
Wild Bunch
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 Comedy, Horror, Parody 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
The Hunted Thriller Josh Stewart Fortress Features
Allegheny Image Factory
Gore, Quebec[9] Horror Jean Benoit Lauzon Green Lake Films 2014-10-14
The Taking of Deborah Logan Horror Adam Robitel Eagle Films
Millennium Entertainment
Hangar 10 Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller Daniel Simpson Newscope Films 2014-10-22
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
Ghoul Horror Petr Jákl jr. J.B.J Film 2015-02-26
Creep Horror comedy Patrick Brice Blumhouse Productions 2015-03-08
Nightlight Horror-thriller Scott Beck, Bryan Woods Herrick Entertainment 2015-03-27[10]
The Final Project Supernatural horror Taylor Ri'chard Cavu Pictures 2015-04-16[11]
Unfriended Supernatural Horror Levan Gabriadze Universal Studios
Blumhouse Productions
Area 51 Science fiction horror Oren Peli Paramount Pictures 2015-05-15
The Phoenix Incident Documentary, Mystery, Sci-Fi Keith Arem PCB Productions 2015-06-16
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
JeruZalem Supernatural Horror Doron Paz
Yoav Paz
Universal Pictures 2015-07-10
The Visit Horror M. Night Shyamalan Blinding Edge Pictures
Blumhouse Productions
Universal Pictures
Jem and the Holograms Family musical drama Jon Chu Hasbro Studios
Blumhouse Productions
Universal Studios
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension Supernatural horror Gregory Plotkin Paramount Pictures 2015-10-23
Unlisted Owner Horror Jed Brian Lawford County Productions 2016–??-??
Aksbandh Horror Emran Hussain Cinematic Media 2016-04-20
Population Zero Horror Adam Levins A71 Entertainment 2016-04-26
Operation Avalanche Thriller Matt Johnson Vice Films 2016-09-16
Blair Witch Horror Adam Wingard Lionsgate Pictures 2016-09-16
Be My Cat: A Film for Anne Horror Adrian Țofei Adrian Țofei 2016-12-05[12]
The Dark Tapes Sci-Fi & Supernatural Horror Michael McQuown Epic Pictures Group 2017-03-17
Phoenix Forgotten Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi Justin Barber Cinelou Films
Scott Free Productions
#FromJennifer Horror comedy Frank Merle Lone Morsel Productions 2017-9-26
Found Footage 3D Horror Steven DeGennaro The Ubiquitous Studio 42 2017-10-12
Unfriended: Dark Web Supernatural horror Stephen Susco BH Productions
Universal Studios
The Other Side of the Wind Comedy, Drama Orson Welles Royal Road Entertainment 2018-08-31
Searching Thriller, Mystery, Drama Aneesh Chaganty Bazelevs Company

Screen Gems

Stage 6 Films

Vazhiye Horror, Mystery, Thriller Nirmal Baby Varghese Casablanca Film Factory 2019-??-??

TV series, made-for-TV specials and TV episodes[edit]

Music videos[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Though the episode was animated, it is done in the style of found footage.


  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 978-0-7864-7077-8. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  8. ^ 6-5=27.140 personen vinden dit leuk · 544 praten hierover. "6-5=2". Facebook. Retrieved 2013-12-28.
  9. ^ Brownridge, William (13 November 2014). "Review: Gore, Quebec". Toronto Film Scene. Retrieved 13 December 2014.
  10. ^ "Nightlight Trailer Flickers On - Dread Central".
  11. ^ Fuelier, Herman (2015-04-15). "Church Point native directs horror film in local setting". The Daily Advertiser. Retrieved 2016-02-20.
  12. ^ "Release Info". Retrieved 2016-05-18.

External links[edit]