‘The Blair Witch Project’ Star Exposes Studio of New Film: “It’s been 25 years of disrespect”

The Blair Witch Project is legendary in the horror space for a plethora of reasons. From its box office performance to its unorthodox marketing campaign, The Blair Witch Project is truly lightning in a bottle, a beacon for indie filmmakers trying to make their way in the Hollywood system. But, not all of the aspects of The Blair Witch Project story are so positive and exciting. Star Joshua Leonard, who played Josh in the 1999 film, took to Instagram after the announcement of a reboot series with Lionsgate and Blumhouse to share his own experiences, along with those of his co-stars in the immediate aftermath of the film’s release.

Rumors have swirled since The Blair Witch Project hit theaters about the treatment of the actors and the bizarre and difficult working conditions used to get these unique performances. Even Heather Donahue changed her name for a period of time to Rei Hance. But, Leonard addressed another side of the rumors, one where studios claimed ownership over human beings and only looked at the bottom line rather than the very human impact of their actions.

Leonard shared his full thoughts in the post below:

Since his initial post, sites such as Variety, People, and the Daily Mail have shared Leonard’s story, spreading awareness about the treatment of actors by studios, especially when it comes to indie productions. Donahue even reposted Leonard’s story, adding in her own Instagram post, “I certainly never intended a 1.5 page contract for $1k signed without an attorney or agent when I was 23 to sign me up for a lifetime of theft of my fundamental belongings—my name, image, and voice.”

Even with such an incredible story of success, there’s still endless amounts of worker exploitation going on behind the scenes when it comes to filmmaking. Thankfully, Leonard was brave enough to speak up and at least illustrate to the horror and film communities at large how important it is to advocate for yourself and how little the studio system ultimately regards human capital.

In the days since his post, Leonard shared Lionsgate has since reached out to him regarding a Blair Witch Project charity screening for O Positive to raise money for artists without healthcare. We’ll be sure to share any updates as we have them.



Sign up for The Harbinger a Dread Central Newsletter