Daniel Myrick

Daniel Myrick

The Myrick-Sanchez plan for scaring audiences was nothing short of brilliant. Hire three no-name actors with improvisational skills, give them a crash course in filmmaking, send them back-packing into the woods for eight days and then terrorize them while they record it all on 16mm and video. Equipping the actors with Global Positioning System (GPS) handsets enabled the directors to know where they were at all times and lead them to specific locations where preconceived parts of the story would play out. The filmmakers left flagged baskets for the actors, containing fresh film, video, batteries and directing notes, all written in the first person for that character's eyes only. Myrick and Sanchez also left food for the actors, but increasingly less as the shoot went on, since the harried group was running out of food in the story. Heather Donahue told the Village Voice (July 20, 1999), "I have not had a Power Bar since, and I probably never will again" but also insisted she would "do it again in a heartbeat," citing the built-in challenges of the conceptual piece. The filmmakers distilled the 20 hours shot by their actors, much of which Myrick admits was "pretty boring," into the compelling narrative which first worked its disturbing magic at a midnight screening at Sundance, effectively blurring the line between what is real and what is fake. Add to that a web site (, which made no attempt to present their Blair Witch mythology as fiction, and you can understand why the filmmakers received countless e-mails and calls asking if it was true. Inspired by the old "In Search Of" TV show with Leonard Nimoy and such classics as "The Legend of Bigfoot," they had laid it on thick and people had bought into it. According to Myrick (EMPIRE, November 1999): "We're still trying to acclimatise to the idea that we're filmmakers who make money. We're still thinking that next year we may be scraping around for industrial videos again." Meanwhile, with a supernatural drama series pilot in the works for Fox, not to mention a proposed comedy feature and all the Blair Witch backstory offers in the way of prequels (if not sequels), Myrick may indeed have left industrials behind forever.