Found footage pioneers and pranksters Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher embark on a nationwide tour showcasing the very worst America has to offer and put their friendship (and legal team) to the ultimate test in this hilarious doco.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2023
Those with sturdy memories will recall the hit doco Winnebago Man (NZIFF 2009), a fave from eons ago. Filmmaker Ben Steinbauer was behind that hilarious portrayal, and graces us now with a funny and intimate study of Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher. After finding a discarded VHS tape these two pranksters created the now notorious Found Footage Festival, a roaming event that highlights the secret analog world of VHS tapes found in second hand stores and other cultural recesses.
Chop & Steele traces the journey of the dynamic duo taking their live-show on the road and the eventual toll on their friendship.
While on the road, the two amuse themselves by pranking breakfast television shows and their talent bookers who seemingly have a no-vetting policy, before parlaying their infamy and mounting legal pressure all the way to a now legendary (and blacklisted) performance on America’s Got Talent. Like The Yes Men but without any overt political chicanery, Pickett and Prueher are content with highlighting the banality of middle America and packaging up the best of the worst, showcasing a country forever caught in a perpetual state of idiocracy.
The doco is filled with fun interviews from those inspired by the duo’s work—Bobcat Goldthwait, Howie Mandell and David Cross—alongside numerous jaw-dropping clips that built their reputation. At Chop & Steele’s core is a profound and revealing testament to those long-term symbiotic friendships that go through the ringer and eventually evolve into a new relationship, one that isn’t better or worse—just different. — Ant Timpson