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.
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 listed as "missing, presumed [passed]" on IMDB. When the film first came out, Heather Donahue's mother even received sympathy cards for her loss.
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.
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.
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.