‘Blair Witch Project’ makers used ‘fake newspaper articles’ to launch realistic ’90s campaign

The Blair Witch Project arrived in 1999. Plus, it inspired countless “found” horror movies because it was a game-changer. Filmmakers Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez spoke to Rolling Stone Magazine in the summer of 99 and revealed some chilling details about the set of the horror movie.

Heather Donahue | Craft entertainment

The film tells the story of student filmmakers in search of the legendary Blair Witch, a colonial-era entity that haunts the forests of Maryland. Set in 1994, its tagline “One year later, their footage was found” instilled new dread among horror fans disillusioned with a glut of uninspired slasher films.

In a 1999 interview with rolling stonefilmmakers Myrick and Sanchez revealed legends as Bigfoot inspired them.

“We’re huge Bigfoot fans,” Myrick told Rolling Stone. “I had a UFO club when I was a kid. We just loved those old reality-based shows and how they kind of scared us when we were kids. would inspire. This fear.”

So they started fabricating evidence of Blair Witch fiction. “We showed this video to investors,” Sanchez admitted. “It was basically like a little eight-minute documentary about what we were going to do about the disappearance of these children. We really played it as real. We had fake newspaper articles, news footage, crazy stuff like that.

Their guerrilla marketing efforts worked. News of the malevolent Blair Witch and found footage spread digitally like wildfire.

Additionally, the raw footage made many believe the caption was genuine. The directors masterfully evoked fear by combining the unseen with an admittedly reckless approach to selling the film.

The directors of ‘The Blair Witch Project’ sent the actors alone into the woods

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They revealed in the interview that the film’s realistic feel – isolation, dread and extreme discomfort – was deliberate.

During the seven-day shoot, actors Heather Donahue, Michael Williams and Joshua Leonard went into the woods with the simple instructions to film themselves.

Moreover, Sanchez and Myrick followed them; they would do something scary to give the actors something authentic to film at night. Something that would corroborate those bogus newspaper reports.

Producer Gregg Hale’s military training techniques “unbalanced” the actors.

“It kind of sparked the thought of well, why don’t we apply this kind of full immersion storyline to the actors?” Hale said. “We kept them isolated, we harassed them at night, we deprived them of sleep, we made them move a lot during the day. Then in the end, we slowly fed them less and less, and they never knew what was going on. They were always unbalanced.

It was a successful tactic for the time

Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez of 'The Blair Witch Project' in an outdoor photo

Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez | Craft entertainment

In summary, the efforts have been successful. “We’ve had people say they’ve heard of the Blair Witch before,” Myrick said.

All of this was reinforced by their legendary website, which seemed terrifyingly real, and the relative anonymity of the internet in the late 90s. They had done their best to trick fans into believing their story, and that operated on a large scale.

The filmmakers reportedly earned a million and a half dollars for their film. the Blair Witch The franchise now features three movies, video games, a handful of books and comics, and a soundtrack.

Not bad for an effort that started with bogus news articles.

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