Eduardo Sanchez (INTERVIEW)
In 1999 Eduardo Sanchez became an overnight indie hero with a very little film called ‘The Blair Witch Project’. It smashed records and still to this day has been idolised for many independent film-makers who have the dream of hitting the big time with their film. Sanchez has also gone on to make Alien revenge thriller ‘Altered’ and the recent psychological/possession horror ‘Lovely Molly’ that has grabbed audiences worldwide proving that he’s not a one hit wonder. Only recently it has been announced that he will be filming a segment for the sequel this year’s most terrifying collection of shorts, ‘V/H/S’.
Firstly congratulations on getting the Directors seat on V/H/S/2.
Eduardo: Thank you. We actually just delivered it. We filmed it in June and edited it this summer. Wow, so you’ve kept your cards held pretty close for a while… Yeah, we were at SXSW earlier this year with 'Lovely Molly' and met the V/H/S producers and they said they were doing a sequel and we told them we wanted to do a piece for it. Our writing partner, Jamie Nash, came up with the script, and we were on our way. So is it easier for you going back to the Blair Witch style? Yeah, I got together and co-directed with Gregg Hale who’s been my producer for all these years. I was finishing 'Exists' and was a little pre-occupied with wrapping it up so Gregg did most of the pre-production work and I came in during production and then edited the film. It was a good partnership. We shot it near my house in Maryland and it was a lot of fun. Going back on Exists what can we expect, we know it revolves around Bigfoot? Yes! When I was young Bigfoot was really scary, you know? There were a lot of TV shows and the Gimlin-Patterson film of that creature walking in the woods that just scared the crap out of me. It was the first time I was led to believe that monsters might be real. It was really influential on me and years later, Dan Myrick and I used a lot of that inspiration for 'Blair Witch'. We spent about 3 months in Texas and shot for 21 days and was a ton of fun. 'Exists' is 'Blair Witch' meets 'The Legend of Boggy Creek'. Got some action in it and the Creature looks great. And it’s not like this mindless killing machine, either. There’s a reason for the killing and we show a bit of its human side in this movie. Pretty excited with it. So is this a going to be your return into found footage? It is the first found footage movie I’ve done since 'Blair Witch'. We were going to do a more conventional movie with a little bit of found footage but mostly regular footage, like what I did on 'Lovely Molly', but we just turned it into found footage and it worked out very well. It’s the most fun I’ve had shooting a movie in a long time. So it seems you’re going back to your roots. We’ve just seen Lovely Molly. How did you come about the story as it’s a step away from your other films? My writing partner Jamie Nash had this idea – a possession film where the possessed person videotapes themselves. But I didn’t want to do a found footage film, at least not with this story. I wanted to make something really honest - I didn’t want to cheat. I think found footage depends on this extra sense of disbelief from the audience, beyond the normal suspension of disbelief in a movie - where you have to constantly make an excuse for having the camera on. Like being chased by a monster and filming the whole thing instead of throwing the camera at the monster and running away. With Molly I wanted to take advantage of the strengths of found footage but not be trapped by it. So when Molly shoots stuff with her camera, it’s found footage, but outside of that, it’s a normal film. I’ve wanted to make a possession movie for a long time, from when I saw 'The Exorcist' when I was a kid, but I wanted to do something different. No holy water or green vomit in this one. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. With most of your films you play a lot with what’s not seen and leave most of the work for the Audience’s imagination. Is this done on purpose? In a horror movie when you show the creature or monster at the beginning then there’s really nowhere to go with the audience. I mean some films do that and work but I don’t usually have a huge SFX budget so honestly I kind of prefer to keep it my way. We couldn’t agree more… I mean there’s this anticipation of seeing this creature or monster or ghost or whatever, and you slowly bring it out, like in 'Jaws'. It’s also based on what resources you have. With 'Blair Witch', we had nothing, we had no money, we had nothing to work with. So we were forced to not show anything, even in the end. With 'Lovely Molly' we had a little more money but I still chose to keep the horror inside the audience’s head most of the time and in the end we show a little something but really keep it internal as much as possible. And with 'Exists', we had a fantastic Bigfoot suit and a really great actor playing the Creature so I was actually able to show more than I thought I was going to. It’s just phenomenal – it looks like a real animal! We get right in there on its face at the very end of the film and it completely works. It all sounds really good and can’t wait to see it. With all your films, they all take a different approach. With ‘Altered’ we had aliens, ‘Blair Witch’ had the obvious and we had the possession element of ‘Lovely Molly’ and now Bigfoot. Does all this supernatural, folklore and the unknown come from personal experience or beliefs? I think it comes from when I was a kid, being raised by old school Cuban parents. My mom was very religious and taught me to believe that certain kinds of evil were real. Like 'The Exorcist' was introduced to me as something that could really happen. So there was this part of me that grew up believing there was evil out there – that it was real. There’s also this element of curiosity to me where horror links us to theories of the after life. Something that gives us a clue or hope that there’s something after this life, after death. It could be scary, it could be haunting but still, it helps satisfy this curiosity about what might happen when we die. I never thought I’d be a horror filmmaker, but I’m enjoying my time in the genre. I think I’m getting better with each film and I’m starting to actually have fun making these fucking films! Also, the beauty of horror is that you can go from a movie like 'Blair Witch' - which is totally experimental and cost us nothing to make - to 'Altered', which is horror but also dark comedy. An alien dark comedy with effects and crazy action and then I can go to 'Lovely Molly' which is psychological and really more of a drama, a horror drama. Then you can go to a straight monster action movie like 'Exists'. There’s no other genre that gives you that kind of flexibility. I love it. We totally agree with that. So I’m stuck within the horror genre but it’s a good place to be stuck right now. Before we depart can we expect anything more from the ‘Blair Witch’? You know, we were talking to Lions Gate about doing another 'Blair Witch' movie for the last couple of years but nothing has come of it. We’re always hoping to do another movie. But it’s up to Lions Gate. They own the franchise.