Found footage (film technique)

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.

In filmmaking, a notable early use of purportedly found footage is the 1961 feature The Connection, which states on its title card that the film is an assemblage of found footage. This predates by almost two decades the 1980 cult horror feature, Cannibal Holocaust, which is often claimed to be the first example of its use.[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-??DramaShirley ClarkeThe Connection Company
Cannibal Holocaust1980-02-07Adventure, HorrorRuggero DeodatoF.D. Cinematografica
Guinea Pig 2: Flower of Flesh and Blood1985-11-30HorrorHideshi HinoSai Enterprise
UFO Abduction1989–??-??Horror, Science fictionDean AliotoIndieSyndicate Productions
84C MoPic1989-04-07Drama, WarPatrick Sheane DuncanNew Century Vista Film Company
Man Bites Dog1993-01-15Comedy, Crime, Drama, Horror, ThrillerRémy Belvaux
André Bonzel
Benoît Poelvoorde
Les Artistes Anonymes
Forgotten Silver1995-10-28MockumentaryPeter JacksonWingNut Films
Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County1998-01-20Drama, Horror, Science fictionDean AliotoDick Clark Productions
The Last Broadcast1998-10-23Horror, MysteryStefan Avalos
Lance Weiler
FFM Productions
The Blair Witch Project1999-07-30Horror, MysteryDaniel Myrick
Eduardo Sánchez
Haxan Films
The St. Francisville Experiment2000-04-15Horror, Mystery, ThrillerTed NicolaouThe Kushner-Locke Company
Gang Tapes 2001-02-01 Drama, Crime Adam Ripp Lionsgate
August Underground2001–??-??HorrorFred VogelAbsu Films
Toetag Pictures
The Collingswood Story2002-10-20Horror, Mystery, ThrillerMike CostanzaCinerebel Media
August Underground's Mordum2003–??-??HorrorFred Vogel
Cristie Whiles
Jerami Cruise
Michael T. Schneider
Toetag Pictures
The Great American Snuff Film2003–??-??HorrorSean TrettaOminous Productions
Zero Day2003-09-03DramaBen CoccioProfessor Bright Films
Incident at Loch Ness2004-09-17AdventureZak PennEden Rock Media
September Tapes2004-09-24DramaChristian JohnstonComplex Films
Raz Productions
Raz Entertainment
Persistent Entertainment
The Last Horror Movie2005-05-13HorrorJulian RichardsProlific Films
Snakehair Productions
The Curse2005-08-20HorrorKōji ShiraishiXanadeux Company
The Zombie Diaries2006-10-29HorrorKevin Gates
Michael Bartlett
Off World Films
Bleeding Edge Films
The Hunt2006-12-11Science fiction, Horror, ThrillerFritz KierschGraymark Productions
Azisa Pictures
Alone with Her2007-01-17Crime, Drama, ThrillerEric NicholasPin Hole Productions LLC
The Weinstein Company
Welcome to the Jungle2007-04-19HorrorJonathan HensleighSteelbridge Film Works
Bauer Martinez Studios
Valhalla Motion Pictures
The Poughkeepsie Tapes2007-04-27HorrorJohn Erick DowdleBrothers Dowdle Productions
Poughkeepsie Films
August Underground's Penance2007-04-30HorrorFred VogelToetag Pictures
Long Pigs2007-09-06HorrorChris PowerClowns After Midnight Productions
Jordan Entertainment
Chris Bridges Effects Studio
Head Case2007-09-08HorrorAnthony SpadacciniFleet Street Films
B.P.A. Productions Group, Inc.
Exhibit A2007-10-01Drama, ThrillerDom RotheroeWarp Films
Paranormal Activity2007-10-14Supernatural horrorOren PeliBlumhouse Productions
Death of a Ghost Hunter2007-10-28HorrorSean TrettaOminous Productions
Live!2007-11-01DramaBill GuttentagAtlas Entertainment
REC2007-11-23HorrorJaume Balagueró
Paco Plaza
Castelao Producciones
Look2007-12-14DramaAdam RifkinCaptured Films
Monster2008-01-15Action, ThrillerErik EstenbergThe Asylum
Cloverfield2008-01-18Science fiction, Monster filmMatt ReevesBad Robot Productions
Diary of the Dead2008-02-15HorrorGeorge A. RomeroArtfire Films
Romero-Grunwald Productions
Home Movie2008-07-10HorrorChristopher DenhamModernciné
Quarantine2008-10-10Science fiction, HorrorJohn Erick DowdleVertigo Entertainment
Andale Pictures
Filmax Entertainment
Lunopolis2009–??-??Science fictionMatthew AvantMedia Savant
Occult2009-02-28HorrorKōji ShiraishiImage Rings
Creative Axa Company Ltd.
Evil Things2009-08-13HorrorDominic PerezGo Show Media
District 92009-08-13Action, Science fictionNeill BlomkampQED International
WingNut Films
The Ritual2009-08-15DramaAnthony SpadacciniFleet Street Films
B.P.A. Productions Group, Inc.
Trash Humpers2009-9-12Comedy, Drama, HorrorHarmony KorineAlcove Entertainment
Warp Films
O' Salvation
REC 22009-10-02HorrorJaume Balagueró
Paco Plaza
Castelao Producciones
Murder Collection V.1[8]2009-05-1HorrorFred VogelToetag Pictures
Paranormal Entity2009-12-22Supernatural horrorShane Van DykeThe Asylum
Bachiatari Bōryoku Ningen2012–??-??Black ComedyKōji ShiraishiCreative AXA
Love Sex aur Dhokha2010-03-19Comedy, DramaDibakar BanerjeeFreshwater Films
Lake Mungo2010-03-23HorrorJoel AndersonScreen Australia
Eyes in the Dark2010-04-25HorrorBjorn AndersonEmerald City Pictures
Hotel Hollywood2010-07-23Comedy, HorrorParam GillG S Productions
Shirome2010-08-13HorrorKōji ShiraishiStardust Promotion
Shirome Project Partners
The Last Exorcism2010-08-27HorrorDaniel StammStrike Entertainment
Arcade Pictures
Undocumented2010-09-??HorrorChris PeckoverSheperd Glen Productions
The Virginity Hit2010-09-10ComedyHuck Botko & Andrew GurlandGary Sanchez Productions
8213: Gacy House2010-09-28HorrorAnthony FankhauserThe Asylum
Atrocious2010-10-15HorrorFernando Barreda LunaNabu Films
Silencio Rodamos
Programa Ibermedia
Paranormal Activity 22010-10-22Supernatural horrorTod WilliamsBlumhouse Productions
Trollhunter2010-10-29Fantasy, Monster filmAndré ØvredalFilmkameratene A/S
Film Fund FUZZ
Unaware2010-11-13Science fiction, HorrorSean Bardin
Robert Cooley
Cooley Productions
Paranormal Activity 2: Tokyo Night2010-11-20Supernatural horrorToshikazu NagaePresidio Corporation
Anneliese: The Exorcist Tapes2011-03-01HorrorJude Gerard PrestThe Asylum
Ragini MMS2011-03-13Drama, HorrorPawan KripalaniBalaji Telefilms
The Tunnel2011-05-18HorrorCarlo LedesmaDLSHS Film
Distracted Media
Zapruder's Other Films
Megan Is Missing2011-05-??Drama, HorrorMichael GoiTrio Pictures
Grave Encounters2011-06-01HorrorThe Vicious BrothersTwin Engine Films
World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries2011-06-24HorrorKevin Gates
Michael Bartlett
Off World Films
Bleeding Edge Films
Straightwire Films
Hollow2011-07-31HorrorMichael AxelgaardHollow Pictures
Tribeca Film
Untitled2011-09-??Drama, HorrorShaun TrokeShaunywa Films
Apollo 182011-09-02Science fiction, HorrorGonzalo López-GallegoBazelevs
The Tapes2011-09-23HorrorScott Bates
Lee Alliston
Darkside Pictures
Pure Film Productions
The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)2011-10-04HorrorTom SixIFC Midnight
Paranormal Activity 32011-10-21Supernatural horrorHenry Joost
Ariel Schulman
The Amityville Haunting2011-12-??HorrorGeoff MeedThe Asylum
Taut Productions
Chō Akunin2011–??-??DramaKōji ShiraishiTokyo Raiders
The Devil Inside2012-01-06Supernatural horrorWilliam Brent BellInsurge Pictures
V/H/S2012-01-22HorrorTi West
Joe Swanberg
David Buckner
Adam Wingard
Glenn McQuaid
Radio Silence Productions
The Collective
Bloody Disgusting
Chronicle2012-02-01Science fiction, Superhero, ThrillerJosh TrankDavis Entertainment
Project X2012-03-02ComedyNima NourizadehSilver Pictures
Green Hat Films
Evidence2012-03-12HorrorHowie AskinsRynoRyder Productions
Hate Crime2013–??-??HorrorJames Cullen BressackPsykik Junky Pictures
Apartment 1432012-05-04HorrorCarles TorrensWerc Werk Works
Kasdan Pictures
Likely Story
Chernobyl Diaries2012-05-25HorrorBrad ParkerLionsgate
Warner Bros.
100 Ghost Street: The Return of Richard Speck2012-07-24HorrorMartin AndersonThe Asylum
The Dinosaur Project2012-08-10AdventureSid BennettMoonlighting Films
Frost2012-09-07HorrorReynir Lyngdal
A Night in the Woods2012-09-07HorrorRichard ParryRichard Parry
End of Watch2012-09-08Thriller, Police ProceduralDavid AyerStudioCanal
The Conspiracy2012-09-20HorrorChristopher MacBrideResolute Films and Entertainment
Grave Encounters 22012-10-02HorrorJohn PoliquinArclight Films
Paranormal Activity 42012-10-19Supernatural horrorHenry Joost
Ariel Schulman
Room 101
The Bay2012-11-02Science fiction, HorrorBarry LevinsonLionsgate
30 Nights of Paranormal Activity with the Devil Inside the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo2013–01-15Horror comedy parodyCraig Moss
A Haunted House2013-01-11Comedy, Horror, ParodyMichael TiddesOpen Road Films
The Upper Footage2013-01-31Crime, Drama, ThrillerJustin Cole
Dabbe: Curse of the Jinn2013-08-2Super natural, HorrorHasan KaracadağHasan Karacadağ
Devil's Pass2013-02-28HorrorRenny HarlinAldamisa Entertainment
Alexander Rodnyansky
Non-Stop Productions
Midnight Sun Pictures
K. Jam Media
The Frankenstein Theory2013-03-01HorrorAndrew WeinerRocket
Inner Station
Therapy Content
Arctic Film Group
Cult2013-04-04HorrorKōji Shiraishi
Scary Movie 52013-04-12Comedy, Horror, ParodyMalcolm D. Lee
David Zucker
Dimension Films
The Weinstein Company
Zucker Productions
Willow Creek2013-04-29HorrorBobcat GoldthwaitJerkschool Productions
V/H/S/22013-06-06HorrorSimon 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 Report2013-08-02Science fictionSebastián CorderoWayfare Entertainment Ventures
The Borderlands 2013-08-24 Horror Elliot Goldner Metrodome Distribution
The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill 2013-08-24 Horror Kevin Gates
Michael Bartlett
Second Sight Films
Head Cases: Serial Killers in the Delaware Valley2013-09-28HorrorAnthony SpadacciniFleet Street Films
B.P.A. Productions Group, Inc.
The Dirties2013-10-04Comedy-dramaMatt JohnsonSModcast Pictures
Sx Tape2013-10-10HorrorBernard RoseAeroplano
La.Lune Entertainment
Hooked Up2013-10-15Spanish comedy horrorPablo LarcuenUncork'd Entertainment
Skinwalker Ranch2013-10-30Horror, Mystery, Sci-FiDevin McGinn
Steve Berg
6-5=22013-11-29HorrorKS AshokaSwarnalatha Production[9]
Best Night Ever2013-12-26ComedyJason Friedberg and Aaron SeltzerMagnet Releasing
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones2014-01-03Supernatural horrorChristopher LandonParamount Pictures
Devil's Due2014-01-17Supernatural horrorMatt Bettinelli-Olpin
Tyler Gillett
Davis Entertainment
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Black Water Vampire2014-01-24HorrorEvan TramelBWV Productions
Ruthless Pictures
Exists2014-03-07HorrorEduardo SánchezLionsgate
Haxan Films
Court Five
Open Windows2014-03-10TechnothrillerNacho VigalondoAntena 3 Films
Apaches Entertainment
Spiderwood Studios
Wild Bunch
The Den2014-03-14HorrorZachary DonohueCliffbrook Films
Onset Films
Afflicted2014-04-04HorrorDerek Lee
Clif Prowse
Automatik Entertainment
Téléfilm Canada
Babysitting2014-04-16ComedyNicolas Benamou
Philippe Lacheau
Axel Films
Madame Films
Cinéfrance 1888
Good Lap Production
A Haunted House 22014-04-18Comedy, Horror, ParodyMichael TiddesIM Global Octane
Wayans Bros. Entertainment
Baby Way Productions
The Sacrament 2014-05-01HorrorTi WestWorldview Entertainment
Arcade Pictures
Alien Abduction2014-05-04HorrorMatty BeckermanExclusive Media Group
Big Picture
Next Entertainment
Lawrence Bender Productions
Mob Scene Creative Productions
Inner Demons2014-06-14HorrorSeth GrossmanSchorr Pictures
Earth to Echo2014-07-02Science fiction, FamilyDave GreenRelativity Media
Into the Storm2014-08-08Disaster filmSteven QualeNew Line Cinema
Village Roadshow Pictures
The Possession of Michael King2014-08-22HorrorDavid JungGold Circle Films
Quickfire Films
As Above, So Below2014-08-29Horror, ThrillerJohn Erick DowdleUniversal Pictures
Legendary Pictures
The Hunted2014-09-09ThrillerJosh StewartFortress Features
Allegheny Image Factory
Gore, Quebec[10]2014-10-14HorrorJean Benoit LauzonGreen Lake Films
The Taking of Deborah Logan2014-10-21HorrorAdam RobitelEagle Films
Millennium Entertainment
Hangar 102014-10-22Horror, Sci-Fi, ThrillerDaniel SimpsonNewscope Films
V/H/S: Viral2014-11-21HorrorNacho Vigalondo
Marcel Sarmiento
Gregg Bishop
Justin Benson
Todd Lincoln
Bloody Disgusting
The Collective
Haxan Films
The Pyramid2014-12-05Supernatural horrorGrégory LevasseurTwentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
The Atticus Institute2015-01-23HorrorChris SparlingSND Groupe M6
Project Almanac2015-01-30Science fiction adventureDean IsraeliteInsurge Pictures
Platinum Dunes
MTV Films
Ghoul2015-02-26HorrorPetr Jákl jr.J.B.J Film
Creep2015-03-08Horror comedyPatrick BriceBlumhouse Productions
Nightlight2015-03-27[11]Horror-thrillerScott Beck, Bryan WoodsHerrick Entertainment
The Final Project2015-04-16[12]Supernatural horrorTaylor Ri'chardCavu Pictures
Unfriended2015-04-17Supernatural HorrorLevan GabriadzeUniversal Studios
Blumhouse Productions
Area 512015-05-15Science fiction horrorOren PeliParamount Pictures
The Phoenix Incident2015-06-16Documentary, Mystery, Sci-FiKeith AremPCB Productions
The Cutting Room2015-06-??HorrorWarren DudleyItchy Fish Film
The Gallows2015-07-10Supernatural HorrorTravis Cluff, Chris LofingNew Line Cinema
Blumhouse Productions
Management 360
Tremendum Pictures
JeruZalem2015-07-10Supernatural HorrorDoron Paz
Yoav Paz
Universal Pictures
The Visit2015-09-11HorrorM. Night ShyamalanBlinding Edge Pictures
Blumhouse Productions
Universal Pictures
Jem and the Holograms2015-10-23Family musical dramaJon ChuHasbro Studios
Blumhouse Productions
Universal Studios
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension2015-10-23Supernatural horrorGregory PlotkinParamount Pictures
Unlisted Owner2016–??-??HorrorJed BrianLawford County Productions
Aksbandh2016-04-20HorrorEmran HussainCinematic Media
Population Zero2016-04-26HorrorAdam LevinsA71 Entertainment
Operation Avalanche2016-09-16ThrillerMatt JohnsonVice Films
Blair Witch2016-09-16HorrorAdam WingardLionsgate Pictures
Be My Cat: A Film for Anne2016-12-05[13]HorrorAdrian ȚofeiAdrian Țofei
The Dark Tapes2017-03-17Sci-Fi & Supernatural HorrorMichael McQuownEpic Pictures Group
Phoenix Forgotten2017-04-21Horror, Mystery, Sci-FiJustin BarberCinelou Films
Scott Free Productions
#FromJennifer2017-9-26Horror comedyFrank MerleLone Morsel Productions
Found Footage 3D 2017-10-12 Horror Steven DeGennaro The Ubiquitous Studio 42
Unfriended: Dark Web2018-03-09Supernatural horrorStephen SuscoBH Productions
Universal Studios
The Other Side of the Wind2018-08-31Comedy, DramaOrson WellesRoyal Road Entertainment
Searching 2018-08-31 Thriller, Mystery, Drama Aneesh Chaganty Bazelevs Company

Screen Gems

Stage 6 Films

Vazhiye2019-??-??Horror, Mystery, ThrillerNirmal Baby VargheseCasablanca Film Factory
Dwellers (film) 2020-??-?? Horror Drew Fortier
Ellefson Films

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

Music videos

See also


  1. 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. "Visual Trends: A History of the Found Footage Genre". Videomaker. Retrieved 2019-08-28.
  4. Eggertsen, Chris. "From 'Blair Witch' to 'Project Almanac': A history of the found footage genre". Hitflix. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  5. "Editorial: An Apologist's Rant: In Defense of Found Footage". Dread Central. Retrieved 2012-04-27.
  6. Tobias, Scott. "V/H/S". AV Club. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  7. Topel, Fred. "Christopher Landon interview". Crave. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  8. 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.
  9. 6-5=27.140 personen vinden dit leuk · 544 praten hierover. "6-5=2". Facebook. Retrieved 2013-12-28.
  10. Brownridge, William (13 November 2014). "Review: Gore, Quebec". Toronto Film Scene. Archived from the original on 19 December 2014. Retrieved 13 December 2014.
  11. "Nightlight Trailer Flickers On - Dread Central".
  12. Fuelier, Herman (2015-04-15). "Church Point native directs horror film in local setting". The Daily Advertiser. Retrieved 2016-02-20.
  13. "Release Info". Retrieved 2016-05-18.
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