Wednesday, 25 March 2015

15 Things You Probably Didn’t Know about The Blair Witch Project

My book on The Blair Witch Project has taken me about two years to research and write. Now it's available to buy online here,and to tempt you, here are 15 things you may not have known about the film.

1. The Blair Witch Project made nearly $250 million worldwide at the box office, which is nearly 10,000 times its production budget.

2. The Blair Witch Project started as an idea, referred to by the directing duo as far back as 1993 as The Woods Movie. The directors Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick took the seed of this idea and wrote a script that was only 35 pages long.

3. Far bigger budget horror efforts such as Sleepy Hollow (1999), The Haunting (1999) and End of Days (1999) could not compete with The Blair Witch Project’s box office draw, even with the likes of Johnny Depp, Arnold Schwarzenegger and the promise of bucket loads of CGI crammed into the trailers.

4. When an eight minute teaser of The Blair Witch Project was screened on television without revealing to the audience that it was fake, a detective called in to offer his help in finding the ‘lost’ filmmakers.

5. The Blair Witch Project was originally conceived of as a more traditional mock-documentary with the footage shot by the actors only meant to feature in the last part of the documentary on the curse of the Blair Witch through the ages. It was only after the footage Heather and Mike filmed was returned to the directors and editing had begun that the idea to use only this footage in the feature was initiated.

6. The Blair Witch Project even beat the following films at the box office: Tom Hanks in The Green Mile, nineteenth Bond film The World is Not Enough, Richard Curtis rom-com Notting Hill and Will Smith blockbuster Wild, Wild West.

7. There are many stories reported of people travelling to the town of Burkittsville where the events of the film take place in order to search for the students. Since then, fans of the film have repeatedly stolen the Burkitsville ‘welcome’ sign.

8. According to Sanchez, ‘the original budget to get the film in the can was probably between $20,000 and $25,000. Then, once we got to Sundance to make a print and do a sound mix, we were probably more in the neighbourhood of $100,000’ (Young, 2009).

9. They even bought one of the cameras then shot the film and returned it in time to get a full refund.

10. When it was bought by Artisan Entertainment at the Sundance Film Festival, they spent another half a million dollars on it. According to Sanchez, ‘they did a new sound mix, and they had us re-shoot some stuff. They didn't like the original ending with Mike standing in the corner. They asked us to shoot some new endings — Mike hanging by his neck; Mike crucified on a big stick figure; Mike with his shirt ripped open and all bloodied. We shot them but ended up staying with our original ending. So the budget of what you saw in the theatres was probably $500,000 to $750,000’ (Young, 2009).

11. On making it past the deterrents, those continuing into the actual audition found themselves thrown into an off-the-cuff improvisation, according to actor Joshua Leonard (Mannes, 1999). The directors would immediately say “You’ve been in jail for the last nine years. We’re the parole board. Why should we let you go?” Those that could not spring into character in an instant were shown the door.

12. Instead of having the directors with the actors on location, Myrick and Sanchez would leave mysterious bundles, rock piles and stick figures around for the cast to discover. They would slime the backpacks of the characters and make frightening noises in the night, at one point even attacking their tent to scare the cast. This approach was also based on producer Gregg Hale’s military training. Hale had been through Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training whilst in the army that involved four days of being chased by American soldiers pretending to be hunting for him. He spoke of his terror despite knowing that soon the ordeal would be over and that the soldiers were simply playing a part.

13. The directors had programmed ‘escape routes’ into the GPS systems and after 24 hours of rain, the cast decided to use one. They ended up at a house where Donahue reveals they were invited in for hot cocoa and got to use a real toilet (Lim, 1999).

14. By the last two days of the shoot, Heather and Michael, the two remaining cast members, were only being fed a single Power Bar and a banana per day.

15. The directors had to cut 20 hours of raw footage down into an 80 minute film.

Let me guess... you probably did know some of those. Well I'm sorry but I had to convince you to read it somehow. Anyway please consider buying a copy of my book here

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