The Blair Witch project: “We didn’t create the genre, but we did make it popular”

If we talk about found footage, we are talking about horror movies that are based on supposed audiovisual materials found where supernatural things happen. Titles such as Paranormal Activity and the unforgettable The Blair Witch Project appear in this subgenre, which traumatized an entire generation in the late 90s and got into the heads of those who used to camp often.

The premise of The Blair Witch Project was as simple as it was effective: a VHS discovered where three young people were seen developing a documentary about some witches who inhabited a forest, who had disappeared from one moment to the next. Before the massiveness of the internet and social networks, for many years it was believed that this story was completely real. “Everything was designed to encourage the idea that this was something real, that the recordings were real. They hid the actors for two weeks,” said Eduardo Sánchez, one of the film’s scriptwriters and directors.

Beside Dan Myrick, Eduardo Sanchezhe developed one of the most important found footage films. “We did not create the genre, but we did make it popular,” said the director, while stressing that together with his colleague, every time they gave an interview they worried about not saying that the story was real. Of course, the study behind The Blair Witch Project got the most out of the curiosity behind the supposed real case. “All the things that were a problem in another film, they worked for us. The idea that nobody in the film was known worked for us, because we could make things up,” he said.

RP.- I know that this was like a university project of yours. It included building a website, spreading fake news when we didn’t know what it was. How was that?

Yes, now they throw it in your face. Yes, Blair Witch was that idea we had with Dan Myrick. We were in college, in the early 90s. We loved the idea. It was basically a response to the idea that the early ’90s weren’t a great time for horror movies. We were studying film and it was: “We have to try to make a horror movie. Can we do it?” And we came up with this mockumentary idea. It wasn’t even called Blair Witch.

Years later… Dan I had done other things, I had done other things. We graduated. We continue together. We decided to revisit this idea. It was called “Woods Movie.” There they appeared (the producers) Gregg Hale, Rob Cowie, Mike Monello and the others. He got involved (the production designer) Ben Rock. We got the money together, we put it together, we did this crazy thing and obviously it blew up.

RP.- What was it like to find the protagonists?

We wanted people who were very natural, who could act but you couldn’t tell they were acting. Fortunately, Heather DonahueMichael Williams Y Josh Leonard they were super talented, smart, very good at improvising. They trusted enough that we took them to Maryland, left them in the woods for 8 days, scared them… We didn’t show them the script. They had no idea what we were going to do to them.

RP.- How did you direct the film?

There wasn’t much direction with Dan, editing was the moment in which the film took shape. Once we trusted the actors, we had no problem letting them be. It worked great. We gave little notes with addresses to each of them. They were 4 or 5 times a day, with different things that could not be shared between them. Heather, Mike Y Josh they made the film what it was, what it is. They gave him life.

RP.- How did you devise the ending?

This was an environment where we had no money. We ate our heads thinking about what we wanted for the end. We knew the movie was going to end in the basement of the house but we didn’t know the ending, we didn’t know exactly what was going to happen. We thought of a lot of scenarios. Honestly, we started shooting it without knowing the end. Luckily we came up with that idea and then we thought about the reasons why. (www.REALPOLITIK.com.ar)

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The Blair Witch project: “We didn’t create the genre, but we did make it popular”