Blair Witch II - How Peg Became Involved
Article ID: 3018
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 5,975
Times Read: 10,467
Author: Peg Aloi [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: October 14th. 2000
Times Viewed: 10,467
So How Did Peg Get Mixed Up in This, Anyway?
Blair Witch Webfest Scheduled for this Week!
As some of you know by now, I will be appearing with many other guest panelists on the Blair Witch Webfest. In fact, I am the very second speaker on the program, after the film's director and co-writer, Joe Berlinger.
How did this happen?
Well, a few months ago, a documentary film called Revelations: Paradise Lost 2 was released. Mr. Berlinger was one of the co-directors, along with Bruce Sinofsky. For an article on the film I was writing for a local paper, I interviewed them both.
At the time, Joe was busy in Baltimore filming "Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2." I got his phone number there from his office in New York and he kindly granted me a few minutes on the phone. Once we were done talking about Revelations I asked how the new project was going. he told me a little bit and then he said, "Hey, Peg, I might want to run a few things by you at some point, some of this Wicca material in the script, and see what you think."
I said that would be fine, I would be happy to help in any way I could. I didn't know much about the film at that point, only that it was going to be gorier and maybe scarier than the first one.
Joe did call me up at work one day not long after, and described a scene they were shooting. He asked for help with the wording of a ritual. He read me aloud what he was working with and we discussed it and I suggested some things that might be added. (Yes, I am being intentionally vague; I have been cautioned by Artisan that I cannot reveal anything about the plot or script until the film is released) I said I could do some poking around and get back to him in a couple of hours. He said "Well, we're shooting the scene in about fifteen minutes." So I said, okay, give me five minutes, hung up the phone, and did some frenzied thinking and scribbling. I called him back and dictated a few phrases over the phone.
Another phone conversation we had involved discussing some terminology: what was the proper term, "the religion of Wicca" or "the Wiccan religion?"
I explained the ways in which "Wicca" has become more commonly used than witchcraft among many people and in the media, just as many now call themselves "Wiccan" instead of "witches." I also said I though that was somewhat inaccurate and that many who use these terms don't know the actual history of where they came from (Gerald Gardner's creation of the religion in the 1930s in Great Britain).
Another time, Joe left me a message asking, "Peg, I was wondering if there are any witch jokes we could maybe use?" I was visiting Fritz and Wren in Florida at the time (at PhoenixPhyre) and couldn't get back to him in time for his shooting schedule.
That was pretty much it and I forgot about it, more or less (okay, I was eagerly anticipating the movie like everyone else who loved the first one). I offered to watch a rough cut if Joe wanted my comments; unfortunately, that did not happen (darn!)
Then, a few weeks ago, I called Artisan's office in New York to try and arrange an interview with Joe for The Witches' Voice. I was told they'd get back to me and that only very few interviews were being given out.
Then, a couple week after that, a young woman called me from Los Angeles to say she got my number from the New York office, and to ask if I wanted to participate in the Webfest, that they'd like to fly me out and have me be a guest speaker who would talk about Wicca as it relates to the film.
I said I might be interested in that (seeing it as an opportunity for positive pagan public relations) but that it was hard to decide without having seen the film. I also had to contact Wren and Fritz and find out what they were willing to do, in terms of my affiliation with Witchvox. Naturally, the webfest wanted to align themselves with this website, as it is such a popular one. But as a politically-neutral, non-profit organization, that was a potential conflict of interest.
After I was told I could receive a few minutes of advance screening footage of the film which contained the bulk of the film's references to Wicca, I agreed to consider it. Once I viewed it and determined (with as much information as I had, which was not much), I accepted. Wren, Fritz and I decided I would participate as someone who works with The Witches' Voice, but not as any sort of direct representative. Yes, this got confusing as the days went on.
I had a number of phone conversations with the young woman organizing the Webfest, in the course of which she learned that I had been in touch with Joe about the film a few months' earlier as a very informal, very much unofficial "consultant." She then asked for my help in suggesting other pagan speakers who could also participate.
I suggested several names, including a number of prominent pagan authors and spokespeople, and was later told they needed to focus on people based in L.A. due to budgetary constraints. As is stands now, the webfest schedule is chock full of many film experts, game designers, authors, musicians performing live, actors, psychics, even academics--a pretty good mix overall. There will also be witches performing live ritual, which I have mixed feelings about (mainly because this sort of thing usually looks very strange and inauthentic on camera).
So that's the basic story; except for one minor thing that occurred. I was briefly described in the schedule as the "Wiccan Advisor" for Book of Shadows. Since this was patently inaccurate, and since it was very important not to convey the impression that Witchvox was somehow endorsing this film (especially since none of us have actually seen it yet), I asked to have that changed.
Oddly enough, none of the participants in the Webfest will have had a chance to see the film before participating in this event, unless they are somehow connected with the film or have other industry connections which will allow this. As you might have guessed, with a sequel of this kind, following on the huge commercial success of The Blair Witch Project, it has been very hush-hush in terms of advance previews (though that does not apply to advance hype, based on what I have seen so far).
That changes this Monday.
Although the studio did not arrange a preview screening for the participants of the Webfest, I will have the opportunity to attend a press screening in Boston the day before I leave for L.A.
Sorry, no review until the 27th! But I may slip in a little preview piece before that (no spoilers or details of the plot, though).
I'll keep you posted. Wish me luck in Tinseltown.
The Witches' Voice
October 16th., 2000 c.e.
Email: [Staff Email]
Also See Peg's Review of this Film Also See Peg's Interview with the Director of this Film
Location: Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts
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