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Winnebago Man is a compilation video consisting of outtakes from a Winnebago sales video. The video shows the salesman, Jack Rebney, shouting obscenities about the script, the filming, and the production crew.
The video was originally filmed in 1988 as a promotional video for Winnebago recreational vehicles. During the shoot of the commercial, Rebney, a former broadcast journalist, got incredibly upset between takes. Unknown members of the production team decided to compile and circulate his outbursts via VHS.
The earliest mention of the video dates back to 2002 by Vice magazine in a piece on their favorite VHS video finds. Two years later, Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher used the clip during the inaugural Found Footage Festival in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
On July 7th, 2004, the video was posted to Milk and Cookies. A month later, a download link to the video was posted to the now-defunct Ritilan.com. It was reposted on the same site on December 8th, 2004, where the poster mentioned it had 18,000 downloads in two days.
In 2006, the video was uploaded to both Google Video and YouTube. The earliest YouTube clip was uploaded by YouTuber justinosman on February 2, 2006. As of September 2011, the video has only accumulated 1534 views. A slightly longer version of the video was uploaded by YouTuber giantmonster on March 24th, 2006, which has over 2,999,000 hits as of September 2011.
Ben Steinbauer, an Austin-based director, made a documentary film about his quest to find Jack Rebney. Rebney was living in a remote section of northern California and had no idea that the video of his outtakes had taken off on the web. The film had took him over four years to make. The finished film Winnebago Man premiered initially at the South by Southwest Film Festival on March 14, 2009, where Steinbauer and Rebney participated in a panel to explain the making of the documentary.
The film was officially released by Kino International on July 9th, 2011 in the New York region. The film won several awards, including the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the Sarasota Film Festival and the Edmonton International Film Festival. On August 12th, 2011, the movie became available to watch for free in the United States on Hulu and SnagFilms. It is currently available to rent on YouTube. As of September 2011, the documentary has a 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Interest in “Winnebago Man” was high in 2004 when the video first entered online circulation. Search interest in “Jack Rebney” peaked in June 2006 but did not appear regularly again until April 2007. Both terms saw a resurgence in 2009 with the release of the Winnebago Man documentary.