To most, including myself, Dan Myrick is most recognized as part of the successful writing/directing duo of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. However, his talents don't stop there as he has a new project that takes us far away from the urban legends of the witch in the forest to far up in the sky with aliens and UFO. We had the opportunity to speak with Dan about his latest project SKYMAN and what inspired him to want to make a docu-drama about a man reuniting with an alien.
Shannon McGrew: Hi Dan! Thanks so much for speaking with me today about your newest project. For those not familiar with your upcoming documentary SKYMAN, can you tell us a little bit about it?
Dan Myrick: It's about a guy named Carl Merryweather who claims he was visited by an alien life form while camping with his father out in the desert when he was ten years old. 30 years later, he's become increasingly obsessed with the notion that "Skyman" is going to revisit him in that same spot in the desert. Basically, we are doing a sci-fi, docu-drama about this guys journey and the ultimate reunion that he has with this alien.
SM: How did you first meet Carl Merryweather and what inspired you to want to tell his story?
DM: Well, Carl Merryweather, between you, me and whomever, is a character that I made up of a composite of various stories that I grew up on. He's a fictional embodiment of an abduction story and I'm shooting it in a style of a documentary but more of a stylized narrative, not so much like the found-footage style seen in THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. What I want to do is incorporate a very cinematic portrayal of this guys story and it's basically one man's kind of search for redemption and he sort of suffers from Asperger's. He was a bit of an outcast as a kid and throughout his whole life and he's now living with his sister in Barstow, CA where he has increasingly become obsessed with the idea of this reunion. He's convinced his best friend and his sister to go with him out to the desert and wire it for video and sound and everything and on his 40th birthday he's going to have this reunion. It's a fictional story, but it's based on real life events, things that I grew up on. I was kind of into UFO's when I was a kid so it's been a story that I've been wanting to tell for a long time and I think it would be a cool way to do something that would be authentic, very contained, but very character driven.
SM: That's so interesting because I really thought Carl Merryweather was a real person!
DM: Yeah we are definitely going to get that because it's sort of portrayed with some facts involved, so it's a little foggy. Just like it was with THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, we aren't trying to pull a hoax on anybody, but it's sort of rooted in reality from some of my own experiences, but there will be recreations throughout. We are going to have fun with it and there will be a lot of aspects to it that will feel real but I think that lends itself to the experience. I like when that aesthetic is employed well and not as a gimmick.
SM: You touched on this briefly, but what are your thoughts on UFO's and aliens?
DM: I never say never, you know? When I was younger, I had a UFO club and have seen a few strange sightings. This is back in the 70's so we were gungho about everything from Bigfoot to UFO's to the paranormal. That's one of the things that inspired THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. I've had an ongoing fascination with that whole subculture, from a philosophical standpoint but also from a storytelling standpoint, there's a lot of amazing stories from people's experiences. Whether you believe them or not, from an audience member they believe them because they can be incredibly compelling. The fact that this guy claimed he saw a UFO, claimed he saw an alien as a kid, is sort of in the background. At first you may think he's a little crazy or wacky cause he suffers from Asperger's and is an outcast, but after awhile you are really rooting for him to be right. Towards the end, you are just like "Oh I hope he finds the alien!" That's what I hope to convey, it's sort of, as my wife calls it, an elegant UFO story.
SM: What are some of the challenges you think you'll face when creating SKYMAN?
DM: One of the big challenges is a lot of preconceptions. I think a lot of people expect me to do another horror movie or they'll lump this into a found footage film, and it'll have some of it's DNA in that but it's a different kind of movie. That's a big reason as to why I'm going the crowd-sourcing route, I would never get this film funded by a studio. It's allowing me to engage the audience early on, like we did with THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, but it's also allowing me to do the movie that I want to do the way I want to do it. It's contained and designed to be a small footprint production wise, something that we can do on a budget, but still keeping it very very intense and creative and authentic and a little bit off the grid, off the beaten path of what you see in Hollywood. That's very exciting for me and we've had a lot of fun so far engaging the audience. We are doing everything from online auditions for people who want to audition for parts in the movie, VR and behind-the-scenes videos. This is, in a way, to get the community, the UFO subculture and filmmaking community, on-board early and make a movie together that is kind of thumbing it's nose at Hollywood. We are going to do something our way.
SM: I think that's great! So the most important question, how can people help in supporting this film?
DM: The biggest this is for people to go to IndieGoGo and type in SKYMAN, that takes you right to our campaign. We've got a whole bunch of perks, you can donate anything from $5 or become a "supreme being" for $5,000. If you are a BLAIR WITCH fan, we have some cool BLAIR WITCH perks. But if nothing more, just spread the word throughout so you can keep tabs on what we are doing as we move through this process. There's also a filmmakers component to this. I've had a lot of people ask me, other filmmakers, how do you make a low-budget movie? So part of our design is to show young filmmakers the nuts and bolts in making a low-budget movie from someone who's done it. We can show them some of the pitfalls you can avoid and how we are making this film. There's an instructional component to it as well for young filmmakers and actors and what not. There's a lot to get involved with and you can just start off by going to the website www.skymanthemovie.com or SKYMAN on IndieGoGo to get involved and contribute.
SM: Thank you so much Dan for speaking with me and we will do our best to support and spread the word for your upcoming film.