|The Guys Everyone Hates - The Blair Witch Team
|by Dov Kornits
So they took a camera into the woods and came out with $150m or so and a development deal. It's not their fault they made it big. Rather than bitch out their good luck, you could listen to their side of the story. Like we did. and here's the unedited transcript of Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez talking to Dov Kornits.
DM: Initially, the TV documentary footage was always going to be the main framing device for the movie, and then periodically you would visit the actual footage shot by the students. But in the edit process we finally realised that we had the movie already. We shouldn't mess with what was already inherently there in the raw student footage. After we shot that primary footage with the students we went and shot the interviews and archival footage, and when we realised the student footage worked in itself, we used the other stuff as The Curse Of The Blair Witch. It ended up being a really good promotional device for the film itself, so it worked out really well. We got our cake and got to eat it too.
I don't think that footage would have improved the movie. I think the movie itself works on a very primal and raw level. It takes you off-guard and disarms the audience. If you use that in a complimentary fashion with the website and when you see The Curse Of The Blair Witch, you can make it your own experience. You can see just the footage first, and then explore all the other bits, or visa versa. It makes it an interactive experience where it's not all spoon-fed to you. There was no guarantee that it was going to work, but it seems to be working…
ES: There were a lot of things that had to be cut out of the film. We had about 22 hours of footage and you could probably make a six hour film out of that footage. Some of it just doesn't work, you can tell they're acting and stuff, but there were some nice little scenes, like the one on DVD and hopefully if they let us do a special edition DVD sometime next year, we want to do an actually two and a half hour cut of the film. That was actually the first version of our film. We screened it at a theatre in Orlando to see whether we had something. It was the first public screening of the footage. Obviously it was too long but people really dug it. There's a lot of really good scenes that highlight Josh's and Michael's acting more, but they had to be cut out. We took about an 87 minute cut to Sundance and everyone was vomiting, so we tried to cut out as much of that as possible and ended up with 82 minutes, and that's the version you see now. We had to cut it down because we couldn't imagine an audience sitting through a two hour version of this.
DM: The film set a record or something for how quick a film came out on video after the cinema release. It was right before Halloween, so I could see the strategy behind that kind of mindset. But in a lot of ways it's helped us. Right from the beginning we had a lot of bootleg copies, even before we went to Sundance. It really kind of helped raise this low-level, hip buzz about the movie before it came out in theatres. We kind of hope the same type of thing happens here. One thing I've noticed about the movie is that it really polarises audiences. You either love it or hate it, and the ones who love it go back two or three times. Plus it's much better on the big screen, so I don't think the DVD importation to foreign countries ahead of its release is really going to cut into its box office performance too much.
As far as the marketing campaign, or whatever you want to call it, it started out very simple and a pretty logical application of let's just do what was cheap, and that was the internet. Let's develop a website, put information about this mythology as it was growing and we were creating it. It was just the perfect vehicle for our movie. You can't afford a full page ad in Variety to talk about your movie. It was also a way to keep in touch with our growing fan base. They motivated us to keep going because they thought the story was cool, and it affected us in more ways than simply marketing the movie.
There's definitely going to be a sequel. We've got an arrangement with Artisan, who have a first look deal on our next project. They own the sequel/prequel rights to the movie and Ed and I are going to be executive producing it. We're not writing or directing it. We're actually working on a comedy right now, believe it or not. Artisan is trying to maintain the spirit of the movie and we're taking a cursory overview of what they're doing, overseeing the writing and what director they hire. We're hoping they maintain the integrity of the franchise and not undermine it. So far they've been very collaborative.
ES: The fact that we're even talking about a Blair franchise is just ridiculous. We made this movie for 22,000 bucks. We're talking to someone right now about doing Blair Witch dolls, and I'm not sure where that's going to lead. The thing is with sequel and with any other Blair Witch fans, we don't want to cheat the fans that really helped us earlier. Dan and I are trying everything in our power to keep it cool and make the reason for making another film be that we want to make another good film and not that we have to release another film.
DM: It's become this monster. This financial snowball that is really out of our hands. Artisan is a company and you can't fault them for wanting to make money. It's a huge learning process for us. Nobody expected this film to do this. It just wasn't a problem we contemplated a year ago.
ES: We've set up a deal now where we are slated to do a third Blair film if there is one; if the second one doesn't destroy everything. We didn't have time to do the second one, and we'd like to go back for the third one and actually write and direct it ourselves. We're really excited about it and it's a good idea. But if we do screw up with the second one, which hopefully we won't, I think the third one will at least be a chance to redeem ourselves.
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originally posted: 12/22/99 01:30:28
last updated: 03/17/04 03:43:41