by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE
>> "Blair Witch" Brews P.R. Stew in NYC; Fans Camp Out for Opening Screenings
Admittedly, indieWIRE has been giving a lot of "ink" to "The Blair Witch
Project" these days, but we just can't seem to avoid them lately and they're
such a worthy (truly) indie success story!
En route to the office yesterday, indieWIRE noticed a crowd of people camped
out in line outside the Angelika Film Center on Houston -- a rare sight at a
specialty film house. Inquiring minds quickly learned that the group was
gathering, more than twelve hours in advance, for the first midnight screenings
of "Blair Witch" and an appearance by the Haxan Films crew. Edie, an eighteen
year-old student, told indieWIRE that she arrived at 10 a.m. to be one of the
first in line. She admitted that she had already seen "Blair Witch" and was
coming back for more. Meanwhile, George, a twenty-eight year-old
self-described horror fan, told indieWIRE that the film has been hyped to
him as the scariest movie to come along in sometime -- he is anxious to
see how it matches up to one of his personal faves, "The Silence of the
Lambs." Others in the line expressed similar expectations, but understood
that the movie is a different sort of horror film. While some in line
compared horror genre favorites, others killed time by sitting inside
tents, making calls on their cell phones.
"The Blair Witch Project" and the Haxan filmmakers were the toast of Manhattan
Monday night at the film's gala premiere. Following jammed screenings on the
Upper East SIde, tour buses shuttled attendees to the Central Park Boathouse
for a crowded post-screening soiree. The setting was a space decorated like
the stage of "A Winter's Tale," complete with frosted trees, and a bizarre,
intermittent witch-like cackling over the sound system. Filmmakers Spike
Lee ("Summer of Sam") and Mary Harron ("American Psycho"), Actress Melissa
Joan Hart (TV's "Sabrina the Teenage Witch"), animator Bill Plympton, writer
Bret Easton Ellis ("American Psycho") and "Pi" mates, director Darren
Aronofsky and producer Eric Watson, were among the attendees, along with
attorney John Sloss and others joining Artisan executives and members of
the Haxan group.
As indieWIRE made its way through the crowd we caught up with Haxan producer,
and former Florida Film Festival organizer, Mike Monello, who introduced us
to "Blair Witch" production designer Ben Rock. Rock created the film's
trademark stick figure emblem which plays a key role in the movie and has
become a key image in all of the movie's marketing and promotional materials.
He indicated that the Blair Witch "stick men" are in fact based on Celtic
"runes" that he discovered while researching potential symbols. Rock, who
recently debuted his short film, "The Meeting," at the LAIFF and the Florida
Film Festival, told indieWIRE that the highlight of the project was creating
the props for that crucial moment when a lead character unwraps a small bundle
and makes a jarring discovery. "That was the moment that really breaks
(the character)," explained Rock, sporting a mock evil grin.
The party wound down rather early, with Haxan's Ed Sanchez and Dan Myrick
nowhere in sight -- perhaps the duo were off to bed early in advance of
their much-anticipated live interview on Good Morning America the next
morning. Rumors of an upcoming Conan O'Brien appearance circulated the
fiesta, but nothing was confirmed.
[Mark Rabinowitz contributed to this report.]
[Today in indieWIRE, we are highlighting Danny Lorber's interview with Ed Sanchez and
Dan Myrick, originally published during the 1999 Sundance Film Festival.]
>> Sundance and UCLA Announce Native American Screenwriting Workshop Projects
The Sundance Institute and the UCLA American Indian Studies Center have selected
eight projects, and their writers, for the second annual Native Screenwriting
Workshop to be held later this month on the UCLA campus.
Organized by Sundance's Heather Rae and UCLA's Roselle Kipp, the one-week
program will include advisors Greg Sarris, Lynn Seifert, Tom Rickman, Joan
Twekesbury, Hanay Geiogamah, Giancarlo Esposito, Rena Owen, Tony Bui, and Mimi
The participants selected fort he 1999 Native Screenwriting Workshop are Russell
Daniels & Jason Rainwater ("Ghost Dance"), Shalan Joudry ("After the Rain"),
Phil Lucas ("Fus Fuxico"), Dan Taulapapa McMullin ("Bikini Boy"), Vincent
Mendoza ("China Blossom"). Daniel David Moses ("West Wind"), Kimberly Norris &
William R. Thoms ("Calling Out the Shadows"), and Monique Sol Sonoquie
("One Skinny Pony").
[Complete information on the projects and the writers will be available here at