15 Awesome Facts About the Original Blair Witch Project

Some crazy stuff happened behind the scenes during the making of The Blair Witch Project. The hit film, which made "found footage" mainstream, was created in a way that no big-budget movie could accomplish. Saying the acting style was "method" is an understatement. The cast was thrown into the woods and terrorized for days on end in order to create the realistic aspects of the film. Half-starved and sleep-deprived, they gave great performances to drive the film. Fans might remember a few of these tidbits, but for those of you who are new to the film, some of these facts about how The Blair Witch Project was filmed might surprise you.

Still, there's plenty of Blair Witch Project trivia that even the biggest fans might have missed, like the fact that Heather Donohue and Joshua Leonard had a tense relationship in real life - their fighting got so bad the directors decided to pull Josh out first instead of Mike, as was initially planned. Read on for more Blair Witch Project behind the scenes stories.

Photo: Artisan Entertainment

  • Heather Donahue's Mother Received Sympathy Cards

    Heather Donahue's Mother Received Sympathy Cards
    Photo: dBnetco / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    The marketing strategy of The Blair Witch Project was to create a perception that the film was real. It worked so well that many people really were convinced that the actors and actress were actually slain. They were allegedly listed as "missing, presumed dead" on IMDB. When the film first came out, Heather Donahue's mother even received sympathy cards for her loss.

  • "Taco" Was The Actors' Safety Word

    The actors had to stay in character almost constantly throughout the 24-hour-a-day filming. If they needed to break character, they would have to use the safe word "taco," then the other two had to repeat it so that they all knew they were no longer acting.

  • The Screenplay Was Only 35 Pages Long

    Creating more of an outline than a script, writers Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez intended for most of the dialogue to be improvised. The two wrote it in 1993 while they were still in film school. There they also created an eight-minute faux documentary about the Blair Witch mythology, complete with fake newspaper clippings.

  • Filming Took Place Over Eight Days

    Filming Took Place Over Eight Days
    Photo: Andy E. Nystrom / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    The hectic filming happened all at once on location at Seneca Creek State Park in Maryland. To create the desired atmosphere, the producers terrorized the actors and deprived them of food and sleep. The intense filming stands in contrast with the long editing process. It took eight months to trim down the 19 hours of raw footage into a 90-minute film.

  • The Actors Survived On Power Bars And Bananas

    According to the cast, supplies ran out quickly during the speedy shoot. As production neared completion, Donahue said she "ate nothing but bananas and Power Bars," while Williams decided not to eat at all.

  • The Audition Was Pure Improvisation

    During the audition, the directors asked, "You've been in jail for the last nine years. We're the parole board. Why should we let you go?" Anyone who paused for too long or stumbled was ruled out.