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The Blair Witch Project

The Blair Witch Project is a low budget 1999 American horror film. It tells the fictional story of three young film students who get lost in the woods while filming a documentary about the eponymous local legend. more...

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After being stalked for several days by an unseen antagonist and prevented from sleeping, they mysteriously disappear. Neither they nor their bodies are ever found, although their film, video and sound equipment is recovered. The film is presented as a documentary pieced together from film the students shot before their disappearance.

Marketing and method

This film was a huge success in part because its makers did heavy marketing via the Internet, spreading rumors and suggesting or allowing people to think that the material they shot was authentic and that the three protagonists really disappeared in Burkittsville, Maryland. This has caused problems for the police department of Frederick County. A similar problem occurred after the movie The Amityville Horror was released.

In addition, just before the general release of the film, The Sci-Fi Channel aired a mockumentary, Curse of the Blair Witch, which, supposedly, investigated the legend behind the movie. The program contains "actual interviews" of relatives of the "missing students." Since the whole legend was made up—including the myth of the missing students—the program can largely be seen as a marketing mechanism for the film. Despite this, it gives more background information on the legend that is hinted at in the film.

At the Cannes Film Festival, the producers put up flyers of the cast. They were missing posters showing the actors of the film. They were removed the next day because of the real kidnapping of a television executive, out of respect (the executive was subsequently recovered safely). Because of this, and the authentic feel of the movie, many viewers thought it was a real documentary, despite the fact that it was listed in the fiction category.

After the movie's success a good deal of merchandise was sold, such as computer games and other items. Despite this commercial success, subsequent movies have not matched the success or innovation of the original movie, which some say has inspired the creation of a whole new way of filmmaking: the Method Film-making (named after method acting).

The technique was to give the three actors only a vague idea of what to do—basically "You are three student film makers doing a documentary on the legend of the Blair Witch"—then turn them loose with a professional camera for the documentary and an amateur camera to document the "making of the documentary". The script was almost entirely ad-libbed; the townspeople interviewed were mostly real townspeople acting, and the three actors had only a minimal contact with the real film crew who did not provide any of the footage and played the role of mediators. The directors provided a basic story outline and utilized GPS technology to move the actors from location to location, so that interaction would be kept to a minimum. Actor's notes were left at "waypoints" located strategically throughout the woods. The result has the look and feel of an authentic documentary.


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