Sunday, September 6, 2009

Blair Witch Project 1 of 3

Let me start by wishing The Blair Witch Project a Happy 10th Birthday. Thats right. Ten years ago the world was swept up by Blair Witch Mania. You could not read the paper, watch television or even talk with your friends without someone bringing up this movie. This was thanks to the excellent marketing campaign the creators, Dan Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez. Including a special one-hour show that appeared on, the then, Sci-fi Channel, entitled Curse of the Blair Witch which included friends and teachers, along with TV spots from news shows all to create further realism for this movie. Hell, there are still people out there today who actually believe this is a true story. When I went to see it in the theatre's I even stayed through the credits just to see that little note at the end that says this is a work of fiction, any resemblance to actual people or events, blah blah blah.

Dan and Eduardo met in film school in the early 90's while attending the University of Central Florida in Orlando. While bonding over their mutual love of horror films they discovered they shared and interest in one particular sub-genre, the grainy, documentary-style films and television specials from the 70's. This was where the idea for the Blair Witch Project was born.

The initial concept was simple. A film crew gets lost in the woods, and their footage is found some time later. At the start, their idea was to have the film be shot and edited like an actual documentary, showing the students footage, but also cutting back and forth between other interviews and expert analysis. This additional footage would later become the Curse of the Blair Witch special. With inspiration but no money the project was put on the back burner.

After graduation Ed moved back to Maryland and Dan stayed in Orlando where he began working in the production industry. While there Dan formed a relationship with a young producer named Gregg Hale who liked the project so much he put up the money for Dan to rent a production office and shoot what he describes as an "investor reel." It was just a short proof of concept video, shot with different actors than who would appear in the actual movie. What happened next is hard to dismiss as anything but pure fate.

John Pierson, a long time independent film guru was in town shooting a segment for his show Splitscreen on Bravo and needed a local camera crew. Dan got the job and over the course of the shoot became good friends with John. Myrick sent him the investor reel once Pierson got back to New York and almost immediately received a call back asking if the footage was real.

Pierson decided he wanted to show the footage during the last segment of the first season of his show as a cliffhanger and he would provide the money for a second segment to premiere his second season. It aired in the Fall of 1997 and after the initial airings the message boards at Splitscreens official website lit up with people wanting to know more about the students.

Ed now joined Dan in Florida and created a web page of their own. Creating an entire mythos and history along with message boards of their own. With the internet buzz going and funds coming in from Pierson and what Dan and Ed were able to get together it was time for them to put their money where their mouths were. They knew they had to find their actors.

Tune in tomorrow for part 2

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