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Film Special

With Dan Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez
"The Blair Witch Project"
Wednesday, June 30, 1999

   


Dan Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez
Dan Myrick (right)
and Eduardo Sanchez
Artisan Entertainment
Today's talk has ended with Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez, who wrote, directed and edited "The Blair Witch Project."

Below is a transcript of today's talk. We talked with the directors from their room at the Jefferson Hotel in Washington. They were ending a day of interviews that began at 8:30 a.m. A few friends who helped with the movie also were in the room. Afer the talk, they headed to Baltimore for a second day of answering questions.

The plot of the film: It's October 1994, and three students hike into Maryland's Black Hills Forest to shoot a documentary film on the local legend of the Blair Witch. They are never heard from again. Through their lenses, we see interviews with locals about the legend, locations in the woods, their frustration at getting lost and the terrifying events that lead to their disappearance.

For more information about the film, which opens July 16, check out www.blairwitch.com.

Sanchez studied television at Montgomery College in Maryland and earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Central Florida, where he met Myrick and the producers of "Blair Witch." Myrick has worked extensively in the commerical market.

This talk has a few spoilers, so read with caution.

www.washingtonpost.com: You share writing, directing and editing credits. But whose idea was it to make this film, and where did the idea come from?

Dan Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez: Dan: The idea came from Ed and I. We both were creeped out by those old '70s documentaries like "In Search of," "Chariots of the Gods." And we wanted to make a movie that was in the spirit of those documentaries.


Rosslyn, Va.: Did the actors shoot multiple takes or was the entire film done with one take?

Dan Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez: Ed: We only did multiple takes on two scenes. The rest of the film was basically one take.


Arlington, Va.: During the editing process, did you have to cut scenes because a microphone or one of your crew were accidently caught on film? And do you have any funny outtakes?

Dan Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez: Dan: We had about 20 hours of raw footage. Out of that we had about 8 hours of usable stuff. We have quite a few of outtakes. We might include them on our DVD release.


Germantown, Md.: I live close to Montgomery College and I was interested in how you come up for the location and idea for the script?

Dan Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez: Ed: We shot most of the film in Seneca Creek State Park in Gaithersburg. I used to live in Germantown so the location we only five minutes away from my house. That's the biggest reason why we shot there.


Ithaca, N.Y.: I'm fascinated by the cross-media nature of "The Blair Witch Project" - all the official buildup - your Web site, the rumors I've heard of a Sci-Fi Channel "documentary", etc. - seems to have kept very closely to the backstory of the film, extending its mythology rather than showing any of the film itself. What are your thoughts on this - do you see "The Blair Witch Project" as a film with some other stuff on the side, or as a more experimental story being told across multiple media?

Dan Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez: Ed: "The Blair Witch Project," the film, is just part of an overall mythology. We didn't think of the cross-media until the Web site got popular. People were into the myth as well as the film.

Dan: We originally just intended to make a scary movie.


Annandale, Va.: Saw the movie back in April at the Wisconsin Avenue screening. I must say that the movie is the most terrifying movie I have ever seen. My question is: In the scene when the filmmakers flee their tent, do we know what Heather sees when she says, "What the -#$- is that?" Thanks, and congratulations on the movie purchase.

Dan Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez: Dan: No one knows what she saw.

Ed: Not even us.


Bethesda, Md.: As far as I'm concerned "BWP" is the most anticipated movie of the summer! I've been following all the reviews on AICN and can't wait for July 16. My question is this: I've heard that a "BWP" version longer than the theatrical release exists on tape. Is this true, and if so what was cut and why? Also, will a "directors cut" eventually be released?

Dan Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez: Ed: The Sundance cut was 87 minutes long. And the theatrical cut is 82 minutes long. The 82-minute version is much more effective. We did a new sound mix and actually added some new stuff that makes the film more complete. A director's cut might be released on the DVD.


Alexandria, Va.: Is the story based on any actual local legends, or is the source material wholly fictional? I grew up not 25 miles from Burkittsville and never heard of the Blair Witch. I do know of Blair's Valley about 20 miled West of Hagerstown ... any relation?

Dan Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez: Ed: We completely made up the Blair Witch legend.


Falls Church, Va.: How much did it cost to make "Blair Witch Project" -- before you transferred it to film?

Dan Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez: Dan: About the cost of a new, fully-loaded Ford Taurus.


Rockville, Md.: What is your opinion on the Blair Witch legend? Is there a something in the woods or is there a someone simply taking advantage of the legend?

Dan Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez: Dan: It's left to interpretation. No one really knows.


Stafford, Va: So, none of the stuff about the students disappearing and all of the kids dying is true? Boy, I am a sucker ... you guys convinced me!

Dan Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez: Dan: It really doesn't make you a sucker. We worked very hard to make it convincing.


Stafford, Va: So, how does it feel to be suddenly in the spotlight? Is fame as groovy as it seems?

Dan Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez: Ed: It's a lot more work than we thought. But it's very cool.


www.washingtonpost.com: I know your characters were tired, hungry and scared. But these college age students had a compass, the sun above. How could they not get out of the woods for five days, or was this Blair Witch messing with them? I would have at least climbed to the top of one of those huge trees to look for a road or house or town.

Dan Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez: Ed: The Blair Witch is all powerful. Unbelievers will be punished.


D.C.: Why why why does your site take so long to load? I've never actually seen it because I keep giving up after 20 minutes of waiting.

Dan Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez: Ed: Artisan is about to move the site to a superfast server, so the problems with the site should be over by the end of the week.


Arlington, Va.: I can't wait for the movie to come out. From what I've read and seen on the 'net, this looks like a winner. How did you cast for this film? I also noticed that the actress-actors use their real names. Why was this done and how did the respective actress-actors feel about this?

Dan Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez: Dan: We wanted to keep them in character for more realistic performances. The actors felt it was a great opportunity because of the creative flexibility we gave them. Casting was done in the same improv manner as the film was shot in. We wanted to keep it as realistic as possible. We saw more than 2,000 people over the course of a year.


D.C.: Are there clues to the end that I should look for in the movie, or is it just left purposely vague? I felt sort of lost at the end.

Dan Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez: Ed: Yes, there are clues in the movie that tells you what happens at the end of the film. Just don't blink.


Stafford, Va: So, do you think you guys could camp out in those same woods and be cool or would you be spooked?

Dan Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez: Ed: We would definitely be spooked. We're cowards.


Los Angeles: What was the biggest challenge in writing the script -- crafting frightening scenes or resolving the story so that it was believable?

Dan Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez: Dan: It's hard to say what was most difficult.

Ed: What might have been the hardest thing to do was not to fall into the horror-film conventions that we grew up with. We wanted to keep it realistic.

Dan: I agree. Whether you're thinking of the scene or executing the scene, we had to keep realism as our primary objective.


Washington, D.C.: I understand from advance reviews that this movie will be more of a psychological thriller than a "hockey-mask-deformed-escape-lunatic-slasher" type movie. In addition, I also understand that the movie doesn't realy end. Are there any plans for sequels to "The Blair Witch Project?" Perhaps a movie about an earlier portion of the myth or even what happens after the movie time line ends?

Dan Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez: Ed: You're on the right track as prequels are concerned.

Dan: Right now, we just want to see how this one is going to do.


Federal Hill, Md.: Do you have any future projects in the works?

Dan Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez: Dan: Yes. Ed and I, with our roommate Dave Brown, are working on a comedy called "Heart of Love." We've been coming up with material for this film since before "Blair." Basically it's a cross between Monty Python and "Kentucky Fried Movie." Total moronity. We hope to shoot that in Orlando, where Haxan films is headquartered.


Silver Spring, Md.: How wide-spread will the movie be released?

Dan Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez: Dan: July 16 it goes nationwide to 20 markets, including Washington and Baltimore. On the 30th, it goes much wider and "should be in a theater near you."

Thanks to all who joined our talk today. Dan and Ed are packing up and heading to Baltimore for another day of interviews.

   

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post

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