No, “The Blair Witch Project” was not an Academy Award-winning film. But it absolutely qualifies for the Academy's “Moments That Changed The Movies” series. A new video from the Academy Originals banner looks back at the 1999 horror film, which took Sundance by storm and became one of the most profitable cinematic endeavors of all time, on the occasion of its 15th anniversary.
The film is also part and parcel of an exemplary year that the readership here has no doubt heard me wax on about before. I like how the video touches on some of those era flourishes, like the rise of internet movie marketing with the film's unique online presence. No matter what you ultimately thought of the film, which paved the way for the found footage “genre,” you have to admit its impact left more than mere ripples, and the echo effect of that year continues today.
“It was the end of an era, in a way,” director Daniel Myrick told me. “There was still that Sundance magic going on and there were a lot of interesting filmmakers that were coming out of the woodwork. We were following on the heels of [Robert] Rodriguez, Kevin Smith, and M. Night was doing his thing. There was just a lot of interesting filmmakers in that mid-to-late '90s period that exemplified that era. There were a lot of risk takers out there and a lot of down and dirty, low budget, experimental approaches to making films. It was a great time.”
(Funny, I recently talked to “Gone Girl” cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth about what was in the water that year. So you'll be getting a double dose of 1999 in this space this week.)
Check out the Academy Originals video – “Moments That Changed The Movies: 'The Blair Witch Project'” – below.