The film that holds the Top Budget Box Office Ratio for a mainstream feature film is The Blair Witch Project. The ‘micro’ budget was $22,000 and went on to make $240.5 Million, a ration of $1:$10,931! This is an impressive feat indeed, and even more impressive is the film itself.
Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez started writing out a ‘script’ in 1993, it ended up becoming more of an outline, and when they were casting people, they were looking for actor/actresses with improvisational abilities. It would be very interesting to find out what exactly ended up being improvised in the film or not. The actors/actress deliver such a raw and indeed scary performance, especially Heather Donahue. It wasn’t until 1999 when the film was released, so we can imagine that a lot of hard work went into making this film, over a six year period. Interestingly enough the shooting only took 8 days. The editing would have been a much larger project, mind you, the editing is king in this film.
The found footage genre wasn’t necessarily new when Blair Witch came out, there were earlier examples of it, but it was single handedly responsibly for re-igniting it. It made found footage popular. Now it seems that every horror flick has some sort of found footage, or at least point of view filming. The style no doubt would have been fresh and new at the time of it’s release, and that most likely is the reason for it’s success. Innovation in cinema is what makes films great.
It’s a tense film, scary and gripping, but it’s not what we see that makes it so intense, it’s what we don’t see. What we imagine, what we hear, what we feel is what will cause the gauntlet of nightmares to come. When film-makers stop being obsessed what what to show us, and take a couple steps back and focus partly on what not to show us, then I think, the horror genre may emerge once more. Another example of horror restraint was Paranormal Activity, although it is clear that Blair Witch was a major source of inspiration for it!
When the film was released, a number of people were convinced that the Blair Witch Legend was real, and actually went to Maryland to try and discover the legend. Another interesting fact is that the actors at the time of filming, did not know that the Blair Witch Legend was fictional, this no doubt added to the realism of some scenes. Plus it is the actors that are shooting the film, so it is fair to say that this film is the actor’s as much as it is the director’s.
Genuinely frightful, and a great inspirational story for all independent film makers. With rogue directional techniques and intense acting this film is for all avid horror fans!
TRIVIA COOKIE: The actors stayed in character for the eight days of shooting. Dedication indeed! When it was necessary to break character, they had a safety word: taco. Taco! FilmMunch.com approves!