How to Make a Found Footage Concept Work

Genre Study


After writing my post about four tips for writing a successful found footage film, I realized that I hadn’t talked enough about developing the core concept of a found footage film itself.

I was at The Purge VIP premiere a few months ago, and one of the representatives of the production company said an interesting tidbit about found footage films during the Q&A. If a found footage film can be told classically yet still be an effective story, it should NOT be made as a found footage film. He went on to give an example about this film in development about how these different people receive a camera that starts recording the minute they open the box, and if it stops recording, they die. That’s something that can’t be told as effectively through classic storytelling, thus would make a great found footage film.

Paranormal Activity was a huge hit because the “found footage” aspect added a layer of realism and containment that was unique and different. The story felt more personal because of the handheld cameras and the lack of an objective camera.

Found footage films require a concept that enhances the genre, rather than using it as an excuse to shoot on handheld cameras.

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