In this extended piece of writing I will analyse the fact that 'The Blair Witch Project' was not made and marketed to scare audiences in the conventional way a horror movie is generally organised. The points that I will discuss are the ways that films are usually promoted, the way the Blair Witch Project was promoted and how Haxan, the independent producers of the Blair Witch Project manipulated the situation. My opinion will come at the end.
Habitually most films are promoted very similarly to each other, in the way that they use advertising and promotion. Advertising and promotion is to get the audience to go and watch the film when it is released. Most film producers use a wide range of advertising and promotion to reach their goal, which is making their film successful. Predominantly all films have a trailer which is one of the main things that a film has. It also has tag lines.
A tag line is a key phrase or words featured on trailers and posters, it is used to project a memorable idea. To elucidate, the Cats & Dogs' tag line was 'Things are gonna get hairy'. Others include reviews, Star Actor interviews, merchandising and the Internet. Competitions also are good promotions in which a person could win a trip to the set of the film or meeting the stars of the film among other things. In order to make a film lucrative and a success it has to be promoted productively and effectively.
On the other hand Haxan/Artisan went the other way about it to promote the Blair Witch Project. The Blair Witch Project - a film which transgressed far from the conventional views of what a horror film should be, in which the producers scrapped the whole idea of a trailer, star interviews, and competitions so that they could to take a myth and make the whole world believe that it was real, this was their Unique Selling Point (U.S.P). They did huge amounts of research and incorporated a lot of ingenuity into it to create the (extended) myth of the Blair Witch and make it seem plausible enough to be reality and not invention.
This research made them produce a lot of evidence, including that if they gave it that real footage look it would make the audience feel that this film was a documentary. This feeling helped the Blair Witch Project seem credible enough to believe in as it was supposed to have been a documentary that these three students were filming. Even though they had a low budget of just £20,000 to £40,000 this worked to their advantage, as they could not afford special effects so using a small amount of money to film it, it gave them just enough money to promote it. While they did use posters, tag lines and the Internet as promotion it was slightly different in the way that other producers have used them.
For instance they used missing posters, a website to tell you all the facts past and present about the Blair Witch as though it was all true and tag lines like 'Everyone knows you don't mess with that shit!' An added technique of theirs was the mockumentary; it was forty-five minutes long and was screened on American television only days before The Blair Witch Project's release. It focused on the history of the Blair Witch and the myth behind her, along with family and friends of the missing students, as well as the locals in the town of Burkittsville discussing the myth and what they think happened to the three students that were presumed dead. This brand of promotion is called Mischief Marketing, a type of marketing that uses highly unorthodox methods (lying) and although it is not illegal it comes extremely close to it.
Haxan manipulated the circumstances it had conceived very unscrupulously. To choose unknown actors to lie in the mockumentary and the film some people would not agree with and would think it was unmoral. Unmoral as they used a story, that brought up the superstition of the American's subconscious and fear of the forest and the evil within it, to endorse in it and make money from it. For the film to be a success it depended on the fact that everything was true. Making the actors film it themselves with small cameras helped this fact. They even produced a book - a dossier, this helped them to exploit the situation further. It contained information about the Blair Witch and her escapades right up to the disappearance of the three students. Rumours were even spread, which caused even more publicity. They did this by releasing the film in merely twenty-seven cinemas across the entire United States, in a bid to influence people to view the film because to publicise this scandalous revelation created the idea that the entire recording was real, so they were not capable to manufacture a lot of copies. Moreover, because of how the film draws upon American myth and legends, individuals who viewed the film were for the most part frightened by it and reviews were embellished, as well as rumours now scattering that the film was chilling and without a doubt, brilliant.
Comparing this film to other horrors positively shows that this brand of marketing is extraordinarily successful and that Haxan were very clever to go about it the way they did. The outcome of that decision definitely picked their company off the ground because by the looks of it they were not doing so well if they had only about £30,000 to make use of on the Blair Witch Project. In my opinion I think that this type of marketing is not appropriate to our type of modern world as there is enough insincerity in it already. Not many people think highly of it at any rate as this was clearly showed when the authenticity of this film was released and there was uproar about it, people do not like to be lied to.