To celebrate the UK cinematic release of his latest film, Lovely Molly, director Eduardo Sanchez (Blair Witch Project and Lovely Molly) recently sat dow with us to discuss his new film, his influences as a director and his proposed Bigfoot trilogy…
UTF: You’re probably most well known for Directing The Blair Witch Project, when did you realise you were on to something special?
ES: Y’know probably when we had an audience screening, not the finished thing but a 2 and a half hour rough cut, and when people actually sat through it. The whole film was an experiment, and just the reaction of the crowd when they came out of it, and not crazy enthusiasm, but just like, you know, a shell-shocked reaction. We still didn’t really know what we had, but it was at that moment we were like, wow! this is really going to connect with some people. We had a few clues before, this and that, but that was really the moment, at least for me, when I was like, Wow! This could really have legs.
UTF: I remember seeing it [BWP] as a kid and thinking that it was a documentary and all real, do you think that the found footage instils this realistic fear within the viewer which makes it that much more frightening?
ES: Yeah, that was really the basic theory behind it. When Dan and I had come up with the idea we had spent the whole weekend watching horror movies and TV shows from our youth that really scared us, and we just came up with the theory that most of the stuff that really scared us was almost documentary like, and some actual documentaries. So we quickly realised that yeah that’s what it is, there’s this visceral reaction to found footage and that type of aesthetic that leads you to believe it is real, even though you know that it isn’t real, your mind is constantly fighting the preconception that it might be real. So I think that’s what made it happen, and what makes it special, we knew that pretty early on, and we didn’t know how the movie was going to turn out, or exactly how we were going to pull it off, but that was definitely the main creative thrust behind it, lets give it that realistic feel and we should get that reaction from people.
UTF: Of course The Blair Witch Project really popularised found footage style of film – what do you think of the latest trend of applying this style of film making to other genres the way Cloverfield did with Monsters and Chronicle has recently done with superheroes? Have you seen many of them?
ES: I have, well I have seen the bigger ones. Yeah I think some of them are great, I’ve actually enjoyed all of them to a certain extent. I think it’s really cool that the found footage genre is growing in a new direction by seeping into other genres. To me it’s kinda weird because I don’t get why it took so long you know? Because when we finished Blair Witch we came up with like 10 or 15 pretty solid ideas for found footage movies, where we could use the technique, but for us it was just not the right time, we’d just done it, and it seemed a too much of a gimmick to us to do another one. To me the found footage genre is definitely its own thing, but at the same time it still has to adhere to the basic fundamental properties of making a good film, you can’t just make something found footage and expect it to succeed, you have to put as much if not more work into to make it work.
UTF: I’ve read that during the filming of Blair Witch to increase the authenticity you actually misdirected the cast through the woods, slowly decreased their food, and made haunting noises, are there any big name Hollywood celebrities you would like to scare senseless in the woods?
ES: [Laughter] Anyone that would let us do it! At this point I would gladly welcome anybody. Obviously we could never do the exact thing we did with the Blair Witch, but at the same time there’s a lot of actors that probably really appreciate that [sort of style] and probably would be up for going through that, it was definitely a very unique sort of experience for the actors involved.
UTF:So tell our readers about Lovely Molly.
Lovely Molly is a Dark horror drama, about a lovely woman named Molly Reynolds who moves into her childhood home with her new husband Tim and bad things start happening. There were some things that happened in the house that happened to Molly and these memories, these residual notions, start to take over her, and she starts seeing and hearing things and becoming unravelled, and then real bad things start to happen and it all starts to fall apart at the end.
UTF: Lovely Molly is a mix of POV action, which you have become synonymous with, and more traditional filming, what was the reasoning behind this hybrid style?
ES: Well you know, the initial idea which my writing partner Jamie Nash came up with was the idea of a woman, or a man, somebody, videotaping themselves going through a possession, which I thought was a great idea. But I didn’t want to do a found footage movie, I just wasn’t able to do that, I found that the problem with found footage is that it can be really limiting because to keep it completely realistic you have to push the boundaries of logic, as to why these people are videotaping themselves the whole time. And with Molly I didn’t want to cheat, I wanted to cheat as little as possible, I wanted to make it where something very serious is happening to this woman, and I didn’t want the audience to be distracted with the idea like why is she videotaping herself having this argument with her husband? Why is she videotaping this? How could she video tape that conversation that’s going on away from her? So I thought, I wonder if I can mix the two, mix the found footage and more conventional filming styles.
UTF: So going from Found Footage to a mix of styles was a natural progression for the story you had?
ES: Yeah, yeah, and I think it really worked, I’m real happy with the result.
UTF: I actually haven’t got the chance to see the film yet, but I have heard that Gretchen Lodge puts in an absolutely stellar performance as Molly, how did you go about casting her?
ES: We did the same sort of casting routine we used on Blair Witch where we just went auditioned people with an open casting call to try and find just some raw talent in New York City. And it turned out she just came in and just blew my socks off, she did this scene that I had already seen people try a bunch of different times, and just kind of added this freshness to it that I just hadn’t seen before. So we cast her, and I just trusted her, the movie definitely was a challenge for her, but like I’ve said many a time she never flinched, and she never backed away from anything I threw at her, and without her obviously this couldn’t have happened.
UTF: With scaring viewers out of their minds you must have gotten a few hate mail – any good ones that stand out?
ES: [pause] Yeah, I’m constantly, well not constantly, but whenever it’s brought up people are mad at me because they are still too scared to go camping, that’s kind of the universal thing. And now people are becoming afraid of horses and kissing, and well you’ll find out why when you see the film [Lovely Molly] what that’s all about. But you know when you make horror movies that’s kind of what you set out to do, to scare people, so it’s a good sign when they come back angry at you.
UTF: Your next project is a feature about the legendary Bigfoot, is this a horror film or is it something else?
ES: It is a found footage horror movie, it’s like I’m trying to being Bigfoot back to where he existed when I was a kid, when I was younger, and you know I think I did it, I mean obviously we’re still editing, we only finished wrapping filming a month and a half ago but it’s looking pretty good, so hopefully we’ll have that done in the next couple of months and see where we end up going with it.
UTF: Sounds brilliant, of course found footage seems like a natural fit for Bigfoot.
ES: Yeah it really does, it’s a great fit, and it isn’t as serious as Lovely Molly, so I think like I said before I cheated a bit with this one, having the characters rolling the camera the whole time, but you know, I think we’re all used to that by now.
UTF: What films or books have had the biggest influence on you as a writer/director?
ES: For me, as far as horror, it would have to be The Exorcist, there was something about it, if something malevolent has ever been caught on film, its in that movie, theres just something to me about it, like the film is haunted, then you read all the stories about the set, and what happened to the actors and everyone afterwards and it just seems like there was some bad energy there and that’s just something that fascinates me about the film, it still scares the hell out of me, I still don’t even like watching it to this day, but still you gotta sit there and watch it and it’s the only film that makes me feel that way.
UTF: Are there any established properties you would like to work on? Any Book adaptations, comic adaptations or movie remakes?
ES: Bigfoot was really the big thing for me, and now that I’ve done it I kinda have to find my next thing. Really what I want to do, hopefully if this movie works, I’d like to do a trilogy or even 4 films that have to do with the Sasquatch, each kind of getting bigger and bigger. We’ll see what happens, but that’s my big thing right now, trying to get another Bigfoot movie going really as soon as possible.
UTF: Talking about trilogies, before you go we have to ask… any update on Blair Witch 3?
ES: [Laughter] No there really isn’t, we’re moving forwards slowly, but it’s really in Lionsgates hands, so we’ll see. I’m actually going to LA next month and I think we are going to meet with them and see what’s up, but I don’t know what’s going to happen.
Lovely Molly will hit UK screen on Friday 29th June, you can check out the trailer below:
And we will of course bring you more information on Eduardo’s Bigfoot movie ‘Exists’ as soon as we hear more about it.