Thursday, May 7, 2009

Dan Myrick on "The Blair Witch Project"

How did you and Edward Sanchez come up with the idea for the movie?

DAN MYRICK: Ed and I were both fans of the 'In Search of …' series, with the haunting Leonard Nimoy voice-over, and movies like "Legend of Boggy Creek" which had a limited theatrical run for a while. There were all kinds of these UFO, Bigfoot faux documentaries television shows and features that kind of walked the line between fact and fiction. And we always found them very scary and haunting and they resonated with us.

I think Blair Witch was born out of wanting to re-visit that and recreate that, on a more contemporary video language. So we definitely used those films and television shows as our inspiration and tried to stick to what scared us as kids and put that into Blair Witch.

We hated a lot of traditional fake documentaries because there was always some sign or red flag in them that would be a little telltale sign that it was scripted or faked in some way. The camera would happen to be in the right place at the right time too many times. A line of dialogue from a testimonial just sounded too scripted, too convenient.

So our theory was, let's shoot this like a documentary as much as is humanly possible and set the stage for our actors to play in character their roles within this documentary, so hopefully when we come out the other end we have, effectively, a documentary. Without infusing our own subjectivity in the shooting process, I think we came way with what looked very natural and what looked like very unpredictable footage.

Then we cut, from that footage, the story that ultimately became The Blair Witch Project. Not to say that this wasn't scripted and outlined; but the shooting process has to look like it was done like a documentary.

That was our theory, our logic behind it: not to become our own worst enemies and not become victim to our own narrative conceits by wanting to have the camera at the right place at the right time and stuff like that. Instead, allow that free flow and unpredictability and spontaneity to happen, and then you just get what you got.

As a result, it came across as very authentic and very real, which we thought ultimately would lend to the horror.

Do you ever get tired of talking about The Blair Witch Project?

DAN MYRICK: No, I'm as fascinated by it as anybody else. Certainly I'm very proud of Blair Witch and it's opened up a whole wealth of opportunities for us. But at the same time it was like this science experiment that took on a life of its own.

It's always interesting for me to hear other people's perspective on what happened and what their take was on it. It was this phenomenon that was greater than any of us had anticipated. For most of that ride, we were on the outside looking in like everybody else and were as fascinated by the evolution of the whole Blair phenomenon as anybody else was.

We had an inside look at what was going on, but to this day I look back at the confluence of events and the timing and the Internet and the reality approach we took to this--how everything intersected-- and what happens when that does.

I find that fascinating to this day.

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