Whenever I put together a list of my all time favourite films, The Blair Witch Project is always on that list, usually around the Top 5 mark or thereabouts. Whilst many people arent fans of the film (each to their own) I love the 1999 film. Its clever, its creepy its unique, and its marketing is some of the best marketing thats ever been done. The crew behind the film put together a wonderful film and the main 3 cast members did a fantastic job at blurring the lines between movie and documentary. But what happened to them (spoiler..the film wasn’t real and the cast didn’t die) Whilst I may do two more articles that talk about where Michael C Williams, and Joshua Leonard went after the film. I want to start by talking about where lead actress Heather Donahue went after the 1999 smash hit.
Heather graduated from the University of the Arts (Philadelphia) in 1995 with a BFA in theater and in 1997, read about an audition that was being advertised in Backstage magazine for actors with strong improv skills. She auditioned and was cast as one of the three principal roles.
For the role of Heather Donahue, she spent a two day crash course learning how to use a camera for the onscreen role and much of the rest of the films production is cinematic history. After filming was completed, Heather Donahue,Joshua and Michael were asked not to appear on any television shows or in any films. All to back up the genius marketing that the film was ‘real’ ,The promotion for the film was so convincing that Donahue’s mother received sympathy cards from people who believed that her daughter was actually dead or missing
Heather later went on record that after the film was released and viewed there was backlash against her because of her association with the film, which led to her having threatening encounters with people, and difficulty finding other employment. A year after the release of the film, she appeared in the independent film Home Field Advantage, and alongside Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Jason Biggs in the romantic comedy Boys and Girls and then in 2001 she appeared in the independent film Seven and a Match and in the short film The Velvet Tigress.
2002 saw Heather appear in the Steven Spielberg produced limited series Taken and was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress That same year, Heather appeared in several short films and TV movies such as The Walking Hack of Asbury Park, New Suit and The Big Time and her last acting role Her last acting role was in the 2008 horror film The Morgue which tells the story of six strangers who find themselves stranded overnight at a rural morgue.
So leaving the screen behind after the 2008 role, Heather took the career change from acting to becoming a medical marijuana grower and write a book in 2011 (Growgirl) about her time as a marijuana grower which was published in early 2012.
I hope that whatever Heather is doing, makes her happy and I feel bad that there was a backlash against one of the most clever films ever made. People might find the ‘shaky cam’ a little unsettling ( I love the camera style), they might think that its just a film about 3 people lost in the woods (thats the genius of it) or that they just dont like found footage movies (i love them, if they are done write, and The Blair Witch Project is done perfectly) Surely those who arent fans of the film, if they just take a step back for a few moments, you must be able to admit that it was a turning point in cinema, super clever and a master stroke, not only by the writer directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez but also by Joshua, Michael and of course Heather Donahue.
Thank you all for making one of my favourite films ever!