Yesterday we shared the first part of our interview with The Blair Witch Project cocreator Eduardo Sánchez, which focused mainly on that film's legacy and the sequel Lionsgate may or may not make. That's not all we talked about, though.
Sánchez has moved into television territory for a bit. It started when he directed an episode of From Dusk till Dawn: The Series (which airs tonight at 9 p.m. EST on El Rey Network), and he's currently busy directing the first four episodes of a BBC drama called The Intruders, written by The X-Files and Final Destination scribe Glen Morgan. He gave us an update on both of those projects, as well his thoughts on why the movie business has changed in the years since Blair Witch, and why it's so much harder to find good horror movies in theaters these days.
Movies.com: Is the show you're shooting right now a genre project?
Eduardo Sánchez: Yeah, to some degree. It's more of a thriller. The show I'm doing right now is called Intruders; it's kind of a sci-fi thriller. Glen Morgan, one of the writers of the X-Files, wrote it. So there are thriller aspects in it, but this show is probably the least horror things I've done since Blair Witch. Even Dusk had more horror elements than this show. It's turning out really nicely, though, and hopefully it gets a second season so we can come back to this.
Movies.com: Are you doing a mid-season episode?
Sánchez: It's funny, right around when I was shooting Dusk in December they were trying to figure out what they were going to do with this show and luckily they chose me to do the first four episodes. It was a good opportunity for me because I kind of set the tone for a show. It's been a learning experience because I've never had to prep 200 pages at once since we were shooting four episodes at the same time, so it was a little daunting, but we're more than halfway through it and we're in a groove. The crew, just like with the Dusk crew, has been treating me like family. I'm going to miss these guys just like I missed the crew in Austin once I had to leave.
Movies.com: How did the Dusk gig come about in the first place?
Sánchez: I had Lovely Molly at SXSW when we were starting to shoot Exists, and I went to the luncheon that Robert hosts there every year. It was the first time I'd ever met him, but we shared the same casting director, so she introduced me to him and we talked a bit but didn't really connect again until last year when he called me and told me about this crazy idea he had for El Rey. I told him I wanted to be involved in any way. Once he got some shows going, he called me about Dusk and I told him I'd love to direct an episode, and so I flew down and got hooked right away. It worked out pretty well. I did the third episode, Robert did the first two, so it was a little intimidating. I stepped on to the set and everyone was used to Robert, but they welcomed me with open arms and it was a really great experience.
Movies.com: The way he's set up El Rey as a network is bold, but everyone seems to be on board with him.
Sánchez: It seems like that's the only way he does things. You've gotta hand it to him, man, he's one of the only people who can do it. Also, creatively, it's just a good formula. They mostly go right to series and develop things very collaboratively. It's a good situation.
Movies.com: It seems in sync with your own story at Haxan and how you guys just make movies like Altered on your own.
Sánchez: Altered was so crazy to shoot and there was so much pressure, but I love it, man. I love that movie. It's just fun.
Movies.com: When you made Altered and Exists, neither aliens nor Bigfoot were particularly popular. Is that you identifying things no one else is doing and deciding to fill that gap, or is it just a coincidence?
Sánchez: Well for Altered, which was actually called Probed when I read the script, it was a script I found online and Jamie Nash, the writer, happened to live 45 minutes from my house, so we just met up. It was an alien movie, and having grown up in the '70s, aliens and Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster were kind of it for me. I always wanted to make an alien movie, and I loved Jamie's script, loved the idea of it being one location and these guys' past coming back to haunt them. It just really intrigued me and it just ended up being the next film after Blair Witch.
And for Exists, Bigfoot is my childhood addiction. I've wanted to make a Bigfoot movie ever since I was a little kid. This was actually the third Bigfoot story I developed. The other two were a bit bigger budget, so hopefully I get to make more. The Bigfoot thing is just something I wanted to do for so long, and when I hooked up with Mark Ordesky, who executive produced The Lord of the Rings, we were both just kind of Bigfoot crazy. We grew up around the same time, right during the Bigfoot craze in the late '70s, so that was all we talked about. This idea came out, and we just said let's do it, let's see if we can do a lower budget movie, but keep the guy in the suit and make it look good. That was the main thing with the movie. We were testing our own ideas, making him contemporary but also bringing back some of the old-school horror I felt as a kid watching those kinds of movies.
Movies.com: How has the business changed since Blair Witch?
Sánchez: The DVD market imploded in 2007, 2008, so it's very difficult to make a living making independent films. Back in the day of DVDs and VHS, you could make a movie for $50,000 to 100,000 and get it on video and actually make a living, but nowadays there's just so much more competition because anyone can shoot on anything these days. And that's good, because there's more talent exposed, but at the same time it makes a lot of clutter. You've got to keep the budgets really low and make the right kinds of movies. The business has changed because there's no longer this backstop of video where you could make most of your money back without running into problems.
They're releasing movies On Demand, same day as theaters and all that, and it really is great, but it seems to me like there are less and less horror movies out in wide theatrical releases. You've got to hunt them down to actually see them in a theater, which is a shame because I feel like the horror genre is really not respected as much as it should be. There's really good stuff coming out, though. I was part of V/H/S/2 last year and got to work with some younger, really talented filmmakers who energized me and my partner Greg, who codirected the movie with me. The fact that we could make movies with these guys, and the energy and ideas. Even just hanging out with them at Sundance just reminded me of when I was younger.
There are so many great filmmakers out there making horror movies, but at the same time, it feels like there's only a certain kind of horror movie that gets released theatrically, and that's just a shame. I think some of the best horror movies out go straight to VOD, and I'd like to see some of those more experimental films get a wider release. That's just the way the business is, though. You can't really take risks with that kind of money.
Movies.com: Do you have any films lined up after you finish Intruders?
Sánchez: No, not yet, but Jamie just finished a script and we're putting that together and shopping it around now and getting a lot of interest, so hopefully it'll be that one. I think I'm going to stay in this TV space for a while and dig my heels in and see what happens. I'm having a really great time in it.
Be sure to catch Eduardo Sánchez' episode of From Dusk till Dawn: The Series when it airs March 25 at 9 p.m. EST on El Rey Network.
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