I had the chance to speak with co-creator/co-director of The Blair Witch Project, Eduardo Sanchez! He spoke with us about the making of the original Blair Witch Project film, all the way to the upcoming sequel, Blair Witch. Thank you again to Mr. Sanchez! It was a pleasure chatting with him. Check out the interview below and enjoy! Also – follow us both on Twitter!(Twitter names below)
@TeejayMcFly : What was it like coming up with the story of The Blair Witch Project?
@Sanchezonthemic: You know, it was cool. We came up with it in the early 90s, like 91. It was really a response to the fact that neither me or Dan[Myrick] didn’t see a scary horror movie in a long time. We just hung out one weekend and read a bunch of movies that we loved when we were kids, and a lot of those were fake documentaries like “In Search Of”. Stuff that pretended to be real, like it was presented as a documentary. We both realized we really dug this and our thing was “Can you do this kind of thing again, would that work with a 90s audience?” So we came up with the idea of this found footage film where a group of filmmakers went out and disappeared and years later there footage was found. Other than that, we didn’t have a lot of details. We knew we wanted the film to feel very real, we wanted the film to obviously be scary. We didn’t know anything about the Blair Witch or we didn’t make up our minds about the legend. We just knew that our story had some filmmakers go into the woods to document and uncover some kind of legend. Later on was when we came up with the whole Blair Witch idea. We asked ourselves “Well what would they be investigating?”, so we made up the legend. Dan and I came up with an idea that a witch would be in the woods. Especially being from up here in the North East with the witch trials, witchcraft….just that era of American History where witchcraft was an actual crime. So we felt that would be a good start. And the name, Blair Witch – it came from the school my sister attended, Blair High School. The name Blair just felt like an old American name.
@TeejayMcFly: How did you come up with the Blair Witch logo?
@Sanchezonthemic: The symbol was an idea we had early on. That the filmmakers would run across some figures(stick-like figures), hanging in the woods like voodoo dolls. So once we started going into production, we came up with different concepts and this was the one that made the most sense. It was the simplest way to make a stick figure out of stuff in the woods. We had that perfect design that we used for the logo, but we didn’t want to make it a uniform. That’s why in the movie you see that they aren’t all shaped the same way. It makes it more creepier. You see big ones, small ones, all different sizes.
@TeejayMcFly: What was the most difficult thing about shooting the film?
@Sanchezonthemic: The most difficult part was figuring out whether it was going to work or not, the doubt. Like, “What the hell are we doing here?”. We weren’t sure if a movie would work being shot this way. We knew we had a good story with the mythology of the Blair Witch because every time we pitched it to someone, you can tell they genuinely liked it. And when Dan finally pitched Gregg Hale, who ended up being one of the producers, his initial reaction was what really propelled Blair Witch forward. He loved the pitch so much that he wanted to be apart of it. Once Gregg got involved, it really started to get rolling.
@TeejayMcFly: Did you tell the actors/actress that they couldn’t find other roles during the marketing of the film?
@Sanchezonthemic: We(Dan and I) never told them anything like that, but I believe Artisan kept them from doing any kind of press and stuff. Definitely for the opening of the film and the first two weeks, they kept them quiet. That was part of the bargain. The studio wanted to keep them out of the spotlight for awhile, so Dan and I handled most of the press. When the cast was done shooting, we continued to keep working on the film for another year before they saw anything. It added to the mystery of the film.
@TeejayMcFly: Did you expect the success that the film ended up getting?
@Sanchezonthemic: We were definitely surprised about how big and large it got, but we knew we had something cool. We had no idea that it would be going theatrical. That was the big thing like, “Wow it’s going to be in the theaters, this is crazy!”. There were so many things that surprised us about this movie. Just being at Sundance and showing the film and seeing people react to it in a big way. Not in our wildest dreams could we have imagined that there was going to be that kind of reaction to the film. Sundance itself was a dream. We never would have imagined it making $140 million dollars or whatever the hell it did. It was just outrageous.
@TeejayMcFly: When Deadpool released earlier this year, everyone talked about the marketing for that film. I like to think of you guys being the pioneers of viral marketing.
@Sanchezonthemic: Yeah, the pioneers of bullshit(laughs). Making up bullshit about your movie. It was just the perfect film to do that for. I know all the marketing ideas, it ended up being revolutionary – but at the time it wasn’t so revolutionary to us. We were just saying, “How do we get the word out on our film?” and the internet was all we had. And I had a little bit of website design training so I built the site in 1998 while still editing the movie. It was just a prefect way to get the mythology out there. It was never about fooling people, just a way of creating a world that you can lose yourself in. We loved the idea of the movie just being part of the experience.
@TeejayMcFly: How about this, did you love or hate being spoofed in the first Scary Movie?
@Sanchezonthemic: Oh I loved it! Scary Movie follows the footsteps of Airplane and The Naked Gun which are some of my favorite films. That was really a trip and just the idea of them spoofing our film which we shot with camcorders, basically home video equipment. It was just a trip and I would have never imagined that a Hollywood movie would be spoofing one of my films. It was a lot of fun.
@TeejayMcFly: You guys pretty much made the found footage style popular, so how do you feel about the whole found footage genre as of today?
@Sanchezonthemic: I mean we weren’t the creators, but we definitely popularized it. I love found footage movies and I know they get a bad wrap because some people hate them. A lot of people think making a found footage movie is easy, but at the end of the day you still have to tell a good story. It’s not just about filming a movie with a shaky camera. So I’m not to really sure how I feel about it, I’ve never hated it like how some people do. There are some really good found footage movies, and of course there are some really bad ones too – just like every other genre.
@TeejayMcFly: It’s almost been 20 years – how does it feel to have a story that you helped create, come back and gain the interest of a new generation?
@Sanchezonthemic: It’s pretty surreal. Like I said earlier, I never imagined that there would be a sequel to one of my movies. Even Book of Shadows, it’s just a weird thing for a filmmaker. If anybody were to tell us while we were shooting[The Blair Witch Project] that there would be two sequels to our film, we would have been like, “Are you crazy?”. It really is cool that a talented film making team like Adam[Wingard] and Simon[Barrett] had enough interest to sign on and do it. It makes you feel relevant. But at the same time, it’s our film and even though I love Adam and Simon – there was still a lot of hesitation. We wanted to know what the movie would look like of course. Honestly, I really am enjoying what’s going on and what I’m seeing. I’m really happy with the way they are marketing it, and loved how the film turned out. It really is the first full on sequel to Blair Witch. Even though I don’t hate Book of Shadows, I don’t think it was the right movie to be the right sequel to Blair Witch. Book of Shadows always felt like a movie that existed outside of our original film. I was really happy when Lionsgate told us what they were thinking and that they were thinking of hiring Adam and Simon. They could have hired people who didn’t give a shit about the original, so I’m happy with how it turned out. They went into it with a lot of respect for the original, and as one of the original filmmakers – that’s all you can ask. I’m really excited to see how everyone reacts to the new movie. I think people will really dig it.
@TeejayMcFly: What can fans of the original expect from this new film?
@Sanchezonthemic: It’s like our film on steroids, it really is. It’s familiar territory since they’re playing with “it’s a relative of Heather” and he’s looking for his sister. So there is a lot of familiar stuff from the first one, but then it kind of goes nuts. Especially that third act – it’s relentless. It really is like a funhouse ride. It just doesn’t stop smacking you over the head and in a really good way. It’s a really tight horror film. It’s more shaky footage, but it’s definitely a newer version of our film. And also a film that continues what we started with our movie. Fans of the original, strap yourself in for a crazy ass ride!
@TeejayMcFly: Lastly – what are some of the things you have planned now?
@Sanchezonthemic: I’m doing a lot of television directing. The big thing we are trying to do is to get our TV show on the air. We’ve been working on that for a couple of years, pitching a bunch of different shows. We finally got a real fight with this show that we are waiting word on from Starz. We partnered up with Alejandro Brugués who did Juan of the Dead. It’s a show based in Cuba and that’s the big thing from us. I’m also doing a horror movie called “Centerfolds” and that one is about to start rolling very soon. We definitely want to be apart of the TV market other than that. It’s really blowing up. Seems that there is more to do with TV. They’re giving filmmakers a little more freedom than on the feature side.