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So this is the definition of catching lightning in a bottle as it regards to indie filmmaking. Everyone that writes and produces movies hopes they can create the next Blair Witch whether they admit it publicly or not. Now before everyone starts hating on Blair Witch – let’s just remind ourselves what this little indie film managed to do with a cast of 3, some woods, several bundles of sticks, camping gear and a budget of less than $50K. For starters is grossed over $250 MILLION worldwide. Second, it spawned the entire “found footage” low rent horror film that we seem to be inundated with and keep companies like Blumhouse in the perpetual black ink. As an aside Jason Blum apparently passed on scooping up Blair Witch Project when it premiered at Sundance – and then went on to watch it take over the world. This inspired him to never miss out on an opportunity like that again – a promise he made good with when he scooped up Paranormal Activity  several years later – another no budget found footage film that minted money and owes a huge debt to Blair Witch since it is basically the same thing in a house.  I love Blair Witch for several reasons. The first- is that it is a raw, emotional story about kids getting lost in the woods. I love the fact that these characters are played so well by a cast with little to no experience. The ingenuity of the filmmakers is somewhat astounding when you think of what they managed to accomplish with so very little. This is a film so free of the pretentiousness and pomp of typical Hollywood filmmaking that you have to give the creators massive credit for believing in their experiment and letting their cast just behave as things play out. The film gets criticized for the shaky cam and the obnoxious characters screaming in the dark, however, at it’s center, Blair Witch reaches an emotional core no less effective than JAWS does with swimming the ocean: our primal fear of being lost in the woods and alone in the dark with strange noises all around you. Everyone is trying to make the next Blair Witch Project in Hollywood – of that you can be sure. A movie that costs next to nothing to produce and makes a quarter of a Billion dollars in sales. Good luck trying to capture lightning in a bottle and spawning a new genre of filmmaking. Every found footage horror movie owes a debt to this film – like it or not. This is the paradigm and the basic story plot beats are all here as expected. Fifteen years later, after endless bad reality TV and low rent found footage horror knock offs, apparently people are over the shaky cam thing that everyone bitched about incessantly with this movie.  Shaky cam is in used in nearly every movie to provide “realism” no matter how big the budget. Judging by sales figures people also no longer have a problem with annoying characters walking around constantly filming everything, no matter how implausible, while screaming at each other in the dark. The formula of loud – quiet – quiet – ambient silent – BANG – jump scare – screams is pretty much the stock in trade of the low budget found footage horror. And another found footage horror movie idea is born… Quiet Quiet BANG – quick, call Blum. Here are my Story Beats for Blair Witch Project – Hate on!


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Writer, director, editor, musician, teacher, blogger, lover of surfing, trashy movies, loud guitars and golf.

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