The Blair Witch Project
The Blair Witch project, Directed by Eduardo Sánchez and Daniel Myrick in 1999, rose to fame, as it is one of the first “Found Footage” films of its kind. The movie was marketed as a true story, resulting in one of the most successful viral film campaigns of all time. It is filmed as a mocumentary about three filmmakers who get lost in the woods while themselves trying to make a documentary about the urban legend of “The Blair Witch”. All of the footage, filmed on handheld cameras, was supposed to have been “found by the police”. Prior to the films, mock “Missing Person” posters were released (Fig 1) and a website was set up about the urban legend- “In a joint decision, Haxan and Artisan, decided to use the website as the focus of their publicity campaign. For the next six months, they added to it, and used a number of other low-budget tactics to promote the film. Prior to the film’s release in July 1999, they had spent approximately $1million on promotion.” (Davidson, 2013). Only between $20,000 - $25,000 was spent on the actual filming, the handheld cameras were even returned after use to keep costs down. All these factors together make “The Blair Witch Project” not only a movie, but an experience.
Every element of the film works together to make you believe it’s real. All of the cast are unknowns, having not acted in any well-publicised films before. A lot of the script is improvised, the directors having flung the actors into these environments and asking them to act as if they were really in the situation. The actors themselves filmed most of the movie, just like you see, in a short period of time. The tiredness and fatigue was real, this being reflected in the quality of how the footage is shot. On top of this the actor’s names were used for their characters, blurring reality with fiction further.
What makes the film work so well as a horror is the not seeing. At no point do you ever see “The Blair Witch”, and nothing ever jumps out unexpectedly but you still feel on edge constantly, you get involved in their frantic panic as the camera shakes around. At night the shots are dark and difficult to distinguish (Fig 2), causing you to think you are seeing things that are never there. This is helped by the fact you don’t actually know what “The Blair Witch” looks like. Over at Pan & Scan Reviews they point out; “We see nothing, either because the characters just woke up and didn't turn on their light or because the camera is pointing in the wrong direction. All we have is our imagination” (Brady, 2005).
|(Fig 2) Film still running through the forrest|
(Fig 1) Promotional Poster (1999) at http://whatculture.com/film/10-best-movie-marketing-campaigns-ever.php
(Fig 2) Still from The Blair Witch Project at http://lifeinaphotograph.wordpress.com/2013/11/04/my-blair-witch-project/
Davidson N (2013), The Blair Witch Project: The best viral marketing campaign of all time at http://mwpdigitalmedia.com/blog/the-blair-witch-project-the-best-viral-marketing-campaign-of-all-time/
Brady TJ (2005) The Blair Witch Project at http://www.teako170.com/ps7.html