The Blair Witch Project
The Blair Witch Project is a low budget 1999 horror film in which three young film students mysteriously disappear from the face of the earth after being stalked through the woods, lost and kept awake by an unseen antagonist.
The premise of the first film is that three students have gone missing after setting out to make a documentary about the Blair Witch, popularly believed to have dwelled in the woods of Maryland. However, although the students have disappeared their footage has been found, and the film in its entirety comprises this footage.
Shot in a mixture of colour and black and white with often-shaky handheld cameras and no lighting, the footage includes not only material that the students intended to use in their documentary, but also long episodes showing their own experiences in the woods. In fact, the bulk of the film consists of this latter kind of material, featuring only the three students.
At the beginning of the film we see the students in the town where they live and in their car; they then conduct some interviews with residents of Burkittsville before going into the woods to visit, and film, sites connected with the legendary witch. For reasons not fully explained they are unable to leave the woods and over a period of several days, a number of apparently supernatural events occur. It is implied that all three students die and there is some internal evidence within the film as to how and why, but much of the plot is open to the viewer's interpretation, including the finale; few concrete indications are given of the eventual fate of the film-makers.
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.
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.
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.
The Blair Witch Project