Men’s Journal’s Everyday Warrior With Mike Sarraille is a new podcast that inspires individuals to live more fulfilling lives by having conversations with disrupters and high performers in all walks of life. In episode 20, we spoke to film director Daniel Myrick who famously co-directed and wrote The Blair Witch Project.

Listen to the full episode above (scroll down for the transcript) and see more from this series below.

This interview has not been edited for length or clarity.


Mike Sarraille:
And welcome back to the Men’s Journal Everyday Warrior podcast. I’m your host, Mike Sarraille. I’ve been waiting for this one, uh, with a man I highly respect. And I’ve gotten to known over the, the, the past few months as we are gearing up for a project of our own. We’ll talk a little about that, but Dan Myrick, and if you don’t know that name, simply go back to the time, uh, cover, uh, where it’s got a picture of Dan and his partner, uh, Eduardo. Yes. Uh, as the scariest movie ever, Dan was the writer, director, and producer of the Blair Witch project, which has become, I, I think it’s safe to say almost cult. Like it, it has a, oh yeah. A cult or a strong followership behind it.

Dan Myrick:
Yeah. And interestingly enough, I mean, a whole new generation of kids have discovered it. Like I have a 16 year old son and he’s got some of his buds at school, like, have your dad sign a poster. I love that movie and blah, blah, blah, blah. So definitely, uh, it spawned a whole like cult following and, and even probably more so overseas, there’s like in Europe and China and there I get, I get requests all over the world.

Mike Sarraille:
<laugh> no kidding. Have you been over to China to talk about the film?

Dan Myrick:
Oh yeah. Yeah. I did a symposium there a few years back, um, film

Mike Sarraille:
School, or

Dan Myrick:
It was a, they were trying to get into the horror film business in a big way. So they had a lot of south Korean directors there mm-hmm <affirmative> American directors, Chinese directors. So that was really an interesting experience. Um, so yeah, it’s that whole part of the world is very much into Asian horror films, whether it’s J or south Korean horror. Um, so it’s big, but Blair is really a big deal over there.

Mike Sarraille:
I, I I’ve, I’m going with a stereotype here, but it’s a stereotype cuz it’s true. I mean the Chinese copy, almost everything. Is there a Chinese Blair, which, uh,

Dan Myrick:
Would not be there’s a lot. There is a lot of, uh, spoofs and so-called remakes of Blair floating around. I haven’t seen all of them, but um, I would not be surprised cuz we were in China at the time. This was a few years ago, but you’d go into a video store and it looked like you walked into a blockbuster. I mean they had end caps and advertisement, everything there was pirated <laugh> and the entire inventory was pirated. So, but the good news is, is they’ve embraced filmmaking. They’ve embraced that, that culture. And they’re doing a lot of their own, really great films now. And um, but I do, I’m a big advocate for not ping people’s artistic work. So that’s, that’s a big thing for me, but um, but yeah, Blair’s been been, uh, copied, you know, somewhat argue it’s been remade for better or worse and uh, and it’s was incredible. It was an incredible phenomena and it’s still to this day is one of those things that’s taught in film schools and all I’m, I’m always surprised by when I see a reference to Blair in a book or magazine or someone talks about you just got Blair witched or whatever, it’s become a verb. So it’s, it is um, we were as surprised as anybody else

Mike Sarraille:
<laugh> We’re gonna get into the Blair Witch. Um, the only thing I’ll say is, you know, I did see that when it came out and I think the best description of how I felt was bothered. I don’t know if you, you like, I was bothered by the film. Yeah. Because it was, it was realistic. I mean even in special operations, we’d be out in the woods and we’d be in our little hindsight and you’d hear the, the, the breaking of branches. Yeah. Somebody would say the joke, Hey, you guys think it’s the better witch. So it became, I mean that that’s pop culture, man, but you know, beyond the film, people don’t, most people don’t know much about you. So let let’s, let’s circle back to, so right now we’re in Bainbridge, Washington. Right. And it’s June and it’s, it was 52 degrees this morning. Yeah. Um, but you were born in Florida. Take us back to your childhood. What, what right here,

Dan Myrick:
I’m a native Floridian born, uh, 1963 in, uh, Sarasota and lived on Lobo key for many years. And uh, didn’t didn’t know how good I had it back there. I mean, it was probably grew up on a canal, a little two bedroom place. My dad was an engineer. Mom was an artist and uh, yeah, we were a Stone’s throw from the bay and you know, a bike ride to the beach on, on the Gulf. And you know, I don’t think I wore shoes until I was 12. You know, it was just that kind of lifestyle and um, you know, had two or three close friends on the island on the key there. And um, uh, and it was a simple time, like it was, I think for a lot of people in the sixties and seventies, it was, you know, our version of, of uh, you know, iPads were get out of the house and go, go, don’t come back

Mike Sarraille:
Until dinner don’t until 8:00 PM. Yes, exactly. When

Dan Myrick:
It gets dark. So,

Mike Sarraille:
And do you, I mean, so during the days, were you guys at the beach most of the time?

Dan Myrick:
Yeah. I mean, we did, uh, we play in the woods a lot. I loved playing in the woods and we build forts and um, we just used our imaginations. I mean, there was sometimes believe it or not, we just stood around, bored out of our minds. And we, lot of, lot of people are afraid to have their kids just be bored. Sometimes you’re just bored and you come up with something, but um,

Mike Sarraille:
Well did today, your parents would be reported to the right?

Dan Myrick:
No, I tell my kids it’s okay to be bored, you know, but invariably, if you’ve got an act of mind, you’ll come up with something you’ll start drawing or whatever, or used to like to draw a lot. Um, but yeah, growing up, back in those days was, was, you know, simple. And, uh, you know, my dad taught me a lot and my mom taught me a lot. Uh, we didn’t have a lot of money, but you didn’t, you didn’t need a lot of money in those days to live on the, on the key where now that same piece of property would probably go for a million and a half. It’s crazy. But, um, but yeah, my dad, you know, climbed poles and worked as an electrical engineer and for floor power and light company and mm-hmm <affirmative> um, and yeah, pretty simple times

Mike Sarraille:
Now your mom bought you a, if our research is right, a 35 millimeter camera and you took that to heart, was that the start of what’s become a, a yeah. Your passion, your

Dan Myrick:
Career. I mean, I, I, my, I got sort of my artistic sense for my moms. I used to love to draw a lot and in particular, you’ll get a kick out of this army dioramas. So, and she would make fun of me cuz I would have this big piece of paper and I’d draw this elaborate combat war, um, planes coming in, choppers landing people find, and I would do all the sound effects. I had the whole music score in my head and I’m doing all the sound effects of the flight

Mike Sarraille:
Of the

Dan Myrick:
AB the whole bit, man. And I’m sitting and do that for hours. And she’s like, Danny, what are you doing in there? It’s like, I’m drawing, I’m drawing this war sequence cuz I grew up on, you know, Sanji and all those movies. I used to love that stuff. And I was really, I mentioned earlier I was really into world war II airplanes. So I drawing P 40 Warhawks and corres and you know, P 51 of course and all that kind of stuff. So I really was into the visual medium of drawing. And then my aunt pat bought me this book called movie magic and it showed up one Christmas and I opened it up and I, I, and it was all behind the scenes of how the big movies were made king Kong and you know, all those films like, oh, there’s a whole industry here behind the scenes of all this. And that’s really what sparked my curiosity. And

Mike Sarraille:
How old are you at this time?

Dan Myrick:
Probably. I don’t know, 1112 in that, in that neighborhood. And so about a year or so later, my mom bought me that camera and, and that’s sort of where I first learned kind of a visual sense. Composition lighting started to kind of get a feel for it. And then shortly after that I got my hands on, like one of the first video cameras that came out in the day. It was like, man, you can shoot your own movies. And um, so we did a couple of movies, quote unquote one was called skateboarders cuz we were into skateboarding and whatnot. So we did this movie called skate me my best friend at the time. And um, so yeah, the bug sort of grabbed me and, and um, and, and from that point on, I, I could remember that this is sort of what I wanna do. I’m not quite sure how to get there, but um, I wanna learn how to, I wanna learn how to make people feel this way. When you go into a movie and you come out with that feeling, I wanna make people feel that way. I remember thinking that.

Mike Sarraille:
So I know before this interview we talked about the, uh, the docu-series uh, well, let’s, let’s call it a historical fiction, uh, uh, the offer by paramount mm-hmm <affirmative> and uh, you know, they mainly follow, uh, out Outre. Yeah. Um, and again, what’s his name? Miles, miles teller, miles teller. You can speak up. It’s a miles teller. He’s that guy seems like he’s in everything right now. But uh, the guy who plays Bob Evans, the head of, uh, yeah. Paramount talks about the feeling you get. I mean, we talked about this. I love movies. Yeah. Because it’s the one time I can block out all the crap in my life. Yeah. I can imagine I’m a superhero. Yeah. That I just said that mm-hmm <affirmative>, I’ve got my popcorn and diet Coke. That’s like a mandatory

Dan Myrick:
I’m with you.

Mike Sarraille:
It, and you can, you, you can make this seemingly impossible possible. Yeah. Just through the, the, the dreaming of the film.

Dan Myrick:
Well, we, I, I’m a firm believer that we’re all storytellers. I, this is one of the things when I go to a film school and they have me in for a panel or a teach for a little bit or whatever, we all have a script inside of us. We all, we’re all storytellers at the end of the day. One of the examples I use, cause our brains are wired though. You’re walking down the street and you see your neighbor’s car parked in the driveway and there’s a dent in the side of the quarter panel. You immediately start thinking, well, what how’d that dent get there? Wasn’t there yesterday? Was he in a parking lot? Was he speeding? Was he drunk last night,

Mike Sarraille:
He hit and kill somebody. Did he hit

Dan Myrick:
And kill somebody? Do these narratives start cycling in your head because that’s the way our brains are wired. So we all think have that common need to, to tell a story and to have stories told to us. And I think that’s, what’s so wonderful about filmmaking. Is it, it, it, it brings all these disciplines, whether it’s writing visuals, music sound all together in one big medium that allows us to escape into these stories. And, and there’s nothing like it when it’s done well, it’ll change your life. I mean, it’s changed policies. It’s changed. I mean, it’s, it’s an incredibly influential medium. Um, and we all, I don’t care who you are, what political persuasion you are. We all have heroes that are from movies. And, and I think that’s, um, a really kind of humbling place to be, and to be a part of that process for people, whenever anyone comes up to me, especially a young film, it says, you know, you’re moving, inspired me to make movies.

Mike Sarraille:
That’s awesome, dude. That’s

Dan Myrick:
The Mo that’s the coolest thing in the world, cuz you may be 10 times better than me and you the then you may be the next Scorsese out there. And 10 years from now you referenced Blair wish. Like I was part of the DNA over this whole process. So it’s really humbling. It’s just an amazing place to be, to have people like experience that in movie theater and have that I think really necessary escapism. We need that. We need that time of relief, that time of, of, of fantasy in our lives to help, to help get us through some of the tougher times. So yeah, it’s great to be a part of

Mike Sarraille:
That. I’m gonna, I’m gonna be a romantic hero. You know, the one hope I would have is that people walk outta films and they do recognize that one. You can be the hero of your own film. Yeah. As bland and dull. And I, I think my life is bland and dull as bland and doll. This is, this

Dan Myrick:
Is the seal guy talking here. This

Mike Sarraille:
Is, I’m still the hero of my own story. And you know, if I try to tell my kids anything, it’s define success for yourself and then pour into it, man. Yeah. Um, it doesn’t, it doesn’t have to be sexy. It doesn’t have to be, but the, the power of movies, you just hit it. Have you ever met a foreigner who hasn’t in their mind shaped their opinions about Americans? That’s not based off movies.

Dan Myrick:
I, I mean the culture, especially American culture. When I think of, you know, Western culture in general, I mean, when I, when you see, you know, remote villages in the, the, the, the farthest reaches of Africa and all, and they’re wearing like Nike, t-shirts, you know, we know we’ve reached pretty much every corner of the universe. Um, it is. And to me, we call it American culture. But Amer for me, America is, is an it’s an ideal it’s, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a state of mind of allowing people to explore, to innovate, to be the best, their best selves. And there’s good and bad that comes with all that. But I think on the whole, the world’s a better place because we’re allowing anybody to be their best self. Right. And that’s what we are all fighting for. Um, and movies and pop culture are all of us out there trying to do cool stuff.

We’re up to things and, and express ourselves and that’s magnetic. That’s why, that’s why that, that, that pop culture spreads so readily because everybody really wants that. Yeah. You know, you look at these dictatorships overseas and 90% of their job is trying to keep it out, trying to keep their populace in the dark about that need to express yourself. And that’s, you can only do that for so long. I think it’s unsustainable to keep it, to keep it out forever. Um, because it’s funny, my wife and I, when we were, and not to get too off track here, but the Iraq war, like prior to the run run up to the Iraq war, my wife was, she’s a huge researcher. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. And she, she works for research departments and stuff like that, a writer herself, but we were tracking blogs of local Iraqis in, in Baghdad, just kids and families and all that.

They’re posting their daily lives there. And the number one pastime in, in Iraq was playing unreal, the, the game unreal. Um, and it was like, yeah, they’re just teenagers. There’s just like teenagers, anywhere else. They’re getting pirated copies of video games and they wanna play video games. And so that escapism that, that we all share, I think is a common thread through humanity. It’s, we’re all storytellers. And we like, we like to be taken away and we would like to tell stories. We like to hear them. And it’s just, um, it’s just a lot of, a lot of fun to be a part of that process.

Mike Sarraille:
And, and, and I know we’re gonna talk about the, the, the movie experience, uh, with streaming platforms. Uh, there’s just nothing that replaces that, that experience, like going to a theater man, the, the big screen, the candy, the popcorn, the, the, the stadium seating. It, it’s just not the, uh,

Dan Myrick:
Yeah. I mean, it’s and it’s, and I, at the risk of sounding like, you know, some, you know, hardcore purest, it really is its own its own experience. Its own medium. There’s there’s there, there may be some digital VR equivalent down the road or something, but, but going into a theater, seeing that 30, 40 foot screen in front of you and having your attention focused just on that, you, you know, cuz it’s just not cool to pop out your cell phone and start surfing or anything. You have to be focused on what, on, on the movie. And yeah, I love that large popcorn on my hand and that diet Coke. And it is, it is that two hours where you just to get channel everything out and just be focused on the movie and when it’s done well, you come out, changed person. You talk about, you think about that movie and it never leaves you and those experiences are, they don’t come every day. You can’t, you can’t. Well, I think part of the problem with Hollywood is they try to, to cheapen that whole experience, they put bad product on the screen. So everyone’s gotten jaded by it. Mm-hmm <affirmative> but when it’s done right with the right movie, it’s like nothing else. That really is.

Mike Sarraille:
So that brings up a question. You go and you watch a movie that is just so indescribably

Dan Myrick:
Bad.

Mike Sarraille:
Yeah. And you ask yourself what, what studio in the right mind putting money behind that is part of the industry. Just sometimes like, like you’ve gotta produce some volume of films.

Dan Myrick:
Well, everything, I think this applies to most, any industry, even the military, I think they, they find a formula that worked then mm-hmm <affirmative> and they try to re they try to

Mike Sarraille:
Don’t fight the last war.

Dan Myrick:
Exactly. Yeah. They, they try to cut and paste that same formula and, and that’s low risk. Right. And everybody wants to keep their job in the studio system. Nobody wants to be the one person, you know what, let’s try something different. And if they fail they’re they’re done. Right. So it’s a very risk adverse environment. So they try to go with what will work, what worked last three or four times. And, and I get it. It’s a business. They’ve got shareholders. Yeah. They’re trying to not be to, or strike this balance between risky films and ones that they know will make money. I mean, look, if another star wars movie gets stamped out, people are gonna go see it. It’s it’s like printing money. Mm-hmm <affirmative> so I get that. But the problem on the flip side is that the product that comes out in those Cedars just looks like glorified TV shows after a while.

Dan Myrick:
You’re like, man, this isn’t what it used to be. And when the first star wars came out or whatever, so it tends to turn off a lot of people, cuz it’s not cheap to go see a movie when you’ve got an alternative, like Netflix at home, you’re gonna spend 20 bucks, $15 for a ticket and God knows you get popcorn and Coke for your family. I mean, you could drop a hundred, hundred and a half and not even think about it. Yeah. And if it’s something that you could get for 3 99 on Netflix, you know, a week later that’s a tough, that’s a tough sell, so it better be worth it. Right. So, um, so that’s, I think sort of the dilemma theaters are, are in right now is that they’re used to kind of pumping out sort of average product, but people are like tired of that spending that kind of money. Um, but you have a top gun come out or, or a dune or an event film like that. Yeah. People will go, oh yeah. A box office is crazy for top gun because that’s one of those films. Yeah. I’m taking my son and my kids out to top gun and we’re going to a movie movie because that’s the way you wanna watch it. And me held

Mike Sarraille:
Onto that for two years. Right?

Dan Myrick:
Yeah. Well that’s a big, I

Mike Sarraille:
Mean, cause Kobe came out and they’re like, Hey, just not.

Dan Myrick:
Yeah. There’s it’s I mean, that was one of those things. I mean, Tom cruise is like the hardest working guy in Hollywood and no kidding. And to his credit, he really wants to make sure he knows exactly his lane. Like I’m the freaking movie star of the world. This thing has got to rock and it has to have X, Y, Z has total control over the process. So I, I really, I mean he makes blockbusters, the guy has like nobody else. So he takes his time and does it. Right. And um, which

Mike Sarraille:
Is the hardest thing to do though, to hold a film for two

Dan Myrick:
Years. Yeah. Well that’s the thing, patience, man. He’s up there with like a Kubrick when it comes to having power and like when Kubrick did eyes wide shut, he said, did the studio look, you want me to do eyes wide shut and don’t wanna do eyes wide shot. So I, I need Nicole Kidman and Tom cruise on my set for two years and they can’t do anything else. And like, okay, the two biggest stars in Hollywood, you got ’em for two years and alright, that’s it. And see you when you’re done. So, but everybody wanted to be in business with Stanley Kubrick. So this, you can count on one hand the, the filmmakers and actors that have that kind of pull with the studios. So it’s, it’s very rare. But, um, but yeah, he, he, he made sure it was done right. And it was shot. Right. And, and Brooke Heimer himself is a big movie guy. He’s I mean, big as in size in scope. So they had the, you know, that was the A-listers on that film. And, and one of Cruz’s big talking points in his big push is that he does a lot of his own stunts. He’s a pilot himself.

Mike Sarraille:
He’s a sky diver.

Dan Myrick:
Yeah. He crazy. I mean, he, there were like, he let us find F 35. No dude, you <laugh>

Mike Sarraille:
Finally got of drew

Dan Myrick:
The line. Like, we’ll give you a trainer over here, but we’re not letting you fly the F 35. Um, it’s, you know, how a hundred million plane or whatever, it’s like to see that going to the side of a mountain, but he’s

Mike Sarraille:
Worth it. Yeah. Yeah. Quite literally. But,

Dan Myrick:
Uh, yeah. So, but they did it right. They did, they did a great job on the film. It was a really super entertaining film and, and, and I think storywise, they did a good job as well.

Mike Sarraille:
So your anomaly in the sense of, it almost sounds like you wanted, you knew what you wanted to do when you were young. Mm. You choose to go to the university of central Florida. Yeah. Film school, right. Was that a formative period of your time in terms of the curriculum and professors?

Dan Myrick:
Absolutely. I think, um, you know, it, it became fashionable for a while to sort of bash on film schools. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and, and, uh, speaking from my own personal experience, I kind of, you know, I went into the business. I mean, when I graduated from high school, we didn’t have any money for college. So I had to go out and get a real job. And so I worked for a while as an editor, did you know, odd video job. I started a small video company in Fort Myers, Florida. Actually, we were the first company to videotape real estate listings and no one had been doing it at that time. So we, this, we should videotape real estate listings. They all have is picture. So we started that whole trend. Nobody knows this. We started that whole trend of videotaping, you know, high end real estate listings and century 21 came in and just

Mike Sarraille:
Crushed it, just

Dan Myrick:
Crush. We

Mike Sarraille:
Were dying, we had mass, they had

Dan Myrick:
Volume wasn’t the career path I wanted to be in anyway. But, um, but I’m always like trying to come up with with ideas. But so, yeah, I finally, my mom said, you know, Danny, you need to go back to school. Um, so I signed up, uh, did community college, got my AA degree at the local community college, cuz I could afford it and then got accepted to the university of central Florida inaugural film program. Like they wanted to see a real and submit an essay. So I did all that got in first class. Um, so I said, I’m moving to Orlando and I sold my car, sold everything, got a roommate. And she, you know, went up to Orlando, got a, got, got set and started learning the real process of making a film. This is how you actually tell a story on film, learning it from established instructors and more importantly, meeting a group of like-minded people, young, energetic, 20 somethings full of applesauce thinking we were gonna conquer the world, but it was being in that energy. And that creative environment was really an amazing experience for me. Um, and will always value it. It was, it was more than a film school. It was a family and, and um, getting to know, um, you know, filmmakers that I would work with for years and years after that, like, you know, guys that we did Blair wish with were all my filmmaking friends. So, um, so it was a great, a great time for me and, and always look back on it fondly, even though it’s getting farther and farther in the distance, <laugh>

Mike Sarraille:
That, you know, it’s interesting you say that. I mean, I, I went and got my MBA. Cause when I left the military, I didn’t know a damn thing about business. We used a different set of tools for risk mitigation and planning and it was less about what I learned and more about the, the tribe. Yeah. You’re surrounded with and one, I was 39 and they’re all like in the 20 sevenths. Well,

Dan Myrick:
Yeah, I’m doing, I’m getting my, the Johns Hopkins now. So no kidding. Yeah. So I’m, I’m doing philosophy there cause just wanna be, you know, to keep expanding and learning. But um, but it, like you said, it’s about the meeting, the people and being with like-minded smart, energized individuals that really inspire you. And um, and that was, and I’m a competitive guy too. So I’m surrounded by a bunch of competitive filmmakers and we’re all kind of out trying to outdo each other.

Mike Sarraille:
Yeah. It sounds like you’re all about tribe, iron sharps iron. So is one man sharp was another. Yeah. And you happen to meet a certain individual there and in doing the research. So, uh, you did the Blair witch with Eduardo Sanchez. Yes. But what we found is you said something about the reason you loved Eduardo so much is a reason that most people don’t like people that, that disagree with them, they want, they want like money people that are just gonna go with their narrative. You said Eduardo would challenge your thoughts and you guys would have these heated debates. What was it about that relationship that, you know, you ultimately made a phone call to Eduardo and said, Hey, remember, remember my idea about the woods?

Dan Myrick:
Yeah. I mean, that’s, that’s the thing it’s it’s and it’s a tough tug of war. I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s hard to, um, to acknowledge that maybe your idea’s not the best idea of the moment and that, you know, the collaboration with someone that you respect and that’s creative, um, may have a better idea than you and, or, or COPO on an idea that you came up with and make it better. So it becomes bigger than the sum of its parts. So, um, ed and I just had a great creative exchange. It was like, nobody else. He, he, he and I, um, not all the ideas were great, but, but we’d always come away with something better than what we individually thought of originally. And, and I think bla, which was a product of that collaboration that it wouldn’t have been as good if any, one of us had done it on our own.

Dan Myrick:
And our producer, Greg Hale also was a big contributor and Mike Manila and Rob cow, this whole kind of, we were sort of like a band, all kind of, you know, writing the music together. And, um, and that collaboration was, um, it’s a rare thing. And it’s, it’s not even something that necessarily is sustainable forever. Even the best bands break up eventually. But, but for that period in our lives, it was, it was the right time, the right kind of movie and the right kind of collaboration because it was an experiment. Nobody really knew what we were getting into. There was no real kind of blueprint for the kind of movie we were making. I mean, Greg, as a matter of fact, um, Greg ha producer was a former SF guy. And when we were out shooting the film, we’re like, well, we needed this thing to look realistic and we can’t have cameras out there in a crew.

Dan Myrick:
And how do we get them through the woods, but still control where they’re going? Well, we have these GPS things, our hunters use these GPS devices. So we use these devices and his military knowledge sort of laid out the logistics of how to map out the actors getting from point a to point B having escape plans and all this in case someone gets hurt, all that stuff. He brought to bear. It would’ve been a complete cluster screw up if it had just been ed and I cuz we had no clue about any of the logistics stuff. So it was all that collaboration, not only creatively, but also from a logistics standpoint that made Blair what it was. And that’s all, all spawn from film school, us and knowing each other film school.

Mike Sarraille:
But there was a period. So you guys graduate? Yeah. University of central Florida film school, you all go off and you’re holding different jobs. Yeah. And what, so I know you made a phone call to, to Eduardo and said, Hey,

Dan Myrick:
Let’s do that woods movie

Mike Sarraille:
Was, was there something, I mean, was it one of these, these, I don’t wanna say odd jobs, but was there just no passion in the jobs that you held at the time? You’re like, Hey, this is not what I was meant for.

Dan Myrick:
Yeah. Well that’s, that’s sort of the hard reality. You, you, you’re in this amazing environment in film school, everyone’s making movies and we’re all gonna be the next Spielberg and da da, da, da. And then you, you graduate and suddenly reality hits and like you have your film degree and no one gives a shit. Right. So, okay. Now I gotta make a living. So I get odd jobs editing. I’ve learned like my editing chops doing, you know, infomercials and stuff like that. So you, you work that, I worked a little bit as a DP for a while. Mm-hmm <affirmative> in lo local films and they’re all bad movies. I really, I don’t even go all the details of the bad films I’ve been on, but so you’re bouncing around and like, wow, this big spiel Bergy and dream I had is starting to fade away.

Dan Myrick:
<laugh> because you got the light bill to pay. Right. You’ve got, you’ve got reality. Um, and it’s a very tough thing to like be, you know, in your mid twenties and all your friends that aren’t crazy filmmakers are getting real jobs and they’re getting married and they have nice cars and you’re still living like a film student. And with this idea that you’re gonna direct a movie one day and that’s, um, that’s a tough place to be. It was a real rude awakening for us. And that’s when I finally said, you know what, ed, he was up like designing websites up in Maryland. It’s like, and we didn’t hate our jobs. It just wasn’t what we had envisioned for ourselves. So we said, look, man, let’s do this woods movie. It’s the cheapest film we could do. You know? And it was the easiest one logistically that we could pull off.

Dan Myrick:
So the entry point to get it made was, was lower than anything else that we had in our heads. So we were like, oh, alright, let’s do it. And um, we started kind of hammering it out. And then Greg Hale got involved and, and I pitched it to him. He was working as a set dresser in LA at the time. And he was in the same head space as we were just, this isn’t what I wanted to do with my life. So I pitched Greg the idea of the Blair witch premise. And he was like, holy cheese, man, how do I get involved? And so he had saved it some money cuz he’s the more responsible one of the three of us. So I’ll throw in five grand dude, if you want to get this thing going. And I said, okay, let’s do it. And so he helped develop it along with ed and I, and that’s really got the ball rolling is that we were sort of just in this stasis, in this place after film school, after having these big ideas realizing, okay, the, the dreams that we had, weren’t being realized, we have to go make it, find a way to make it happen

Mike Sarraille:
Before you guys actually got to filming this thing. Had you ever pitched it to mentors or anyone who said, Hey, this, this really isn’t a good

Dan Myrick:
Idea. Well, we, we had the notion. I, I, I was thinking that, you know, it’s a difficult idea to pitch mm-hmm <affirmative> because no one had done a movie like that before. So it’s not like, oh girl meets sky and they’d fall in love. You don’t have any of that to fall back on. So no one had any clue about what kind of movie we’re gonna make. So, um, I came with the idea of shooting a, a kind of a proof of concept video an eight minute we call it the investor reel, but it was basically an eight minute proof of concept before we had shot. The actual movie ed was still in Maryland at the time. So Greg and I kind of put together this proof of concept and it was a fake documentary about the documentary we were gonna shoot. So it’s like a meta meta movie, right?

Dan Myrick:
So we put together this whole thing about this found footage came up, the rights are gonna come up to it. Hacken films, which is our production company. We’re gonna get the right to, we’re gonna show the world and we’ve completely mapped out the backstory to it all. And it was completely fake. And we said to ourselves, well, if we can go into a room full of dentists or doctors and fool them with this eight minute real, then we can say, we’re gonna do this for a whole movie. And that’s, we’ll let that sell it the whole, the whole idea. So we did that. We pitched room. So of doctors room. So of dentists, a producer, wanna be producer here and there in Orlando and all nobody, no one bit bit on it. And then one day I got a call from a, our co-producer friend, Mike Manillo and said, you know, John Pearson’s coming into town.

Dan Myrick:
John Pearson at the time was a producer’s rep mm-hmm <affirmative>. He discovered spike Lee, Kevin Smith. He was a big deal in the indie film world. And he had his own TV show called split screen on Bravo. And basically it was a series like an anthology series of these wacky individuals that, um, he did stories about. And it was a really fun show. And, but he liked to hire local filmmakers whenever he was in town to do his local story, he liked to hire local shooters and stuff like that. So he was in town in Orlando to do Gator Orlando. There’s that, that tourist trap. It’s hilarious. So he’s in Orlando dug gate Orlando, and Mike called me up and Hey, John, Pearson’s coming in town, he’s looking for a local shooter. Do you want to, to apply? And I like, yeah, man, it’s John Pearson. This is just, we wrapped up our investor real.

Dan Myrick:
Right. So I said to myself, okay, if I gig it on, so I talked to John on the phone. Yeah. Huh. You can run camera, come on out. So awesome. So I’ll give it about three days. It’s about a four day shoot. Say, get to know him, let him trust me. And then I can hand him my tape of this investor rail. So we did the data. Lando segment had a blast. He’s a super cool guy. And at the end of when we were wrapping it up, so John, I, I know you’ve probably hear this a million times, but I’ve got this inve this pitch for this movie that I want to do called Blair witch. And he goes, okay, send me the tape. He needs a, he, his production in Jersey. So sent it to him like a couple days later. And, and I figured that was gonna be the end of it.

Dan Myrick:
Right? Mm-hmm <affirmative>, mm-hmm <affirmative> a week later, he calls me and says, Dan, what the hell is, this is this real? And I just started laughing. I said, no, John, it’s all fake. That’s the whole point of the movie we’re gonna, he goes, oh my God. Okay. Tell you what I wanna show. This is my last episode on split screen. It’s a cliff hanger. Like really? So I said, I’ll pay you the rights to do that. He paid us $5,000 for the rice to do it. I’m like, what? I mean? I’m like, and I, so no, you guys are up to 10,000. Yeah. So I, I tell, so I tell Greg and ed, I said, Pearson’s gonna show our investor reel on the last episode of split screen and play it as this fit real. Right. And Bravo had a pretty good size audience at the time.

Dan Myrick:
So, um, so that’s what happened. And, and so they set it up for the second season, like next spring, where we, we have shot, shot the film, we’re gonna, they’re gonna do a re revisit for the premier episode of the second season. So where we get, um, another hit on his show then. So that really got the ball rolling. Cuz when we got the kind of blessing from John Pearson mm-hmm <affirmative> people started to notice. Yeah. And um, so yeah, we were went out, we had about 35,000 bucks or so raised and we went out and shot the movie, um, in Maryland, um, and came back and started editing ed and I were editing and, and uh, and that was how long did it take us to edit like eight, nine months? Yeah, almost for almost a year to edit the movie. The,

Mike Sarraille:
The, let, let me, let me ask this before we get to the editing part and we gotta take a Midroll break. So you guys are out there in the woods for eight days. We had read that you tried to create conditions for the actors that brought out anxiety. Yeah. And so you guys would, I, I, I don’t wanna put words in your mouth. Is it safe to say you, you messed with them at night?

Dan Myrick:
We, we did. Yeah. It was, it was like our version of Sears school, I guess it was like, <laugh> we, we, we, they knew what was coming. I mean, as far as that we were gonna mess with them. Yes. So it was, it wasn’t like they had no idea. I mean, they knew they were in a movie and our whole approach was, um, trying to preserve this realism. And we wanted them to remain in character as much as possible. And the mandate was to just shoot everything we’re gonna, we’ll supply you with plenty of footage or blank tapes and all that. And each one of these weigh points, excuse me, there’d be a milk crate with more batteries for their cameras. Um, more tapes and more film for the cam for the cameras. And they were to leave off what they shot so we could grab it.

Dan Myrick:
So, so that was to keep them in character as much as possible. And at each one of these way points is where they were instructed to set up their camp. Meanwhile, ed and I were shadowing them in the woods, you know, to observe their performances. So we’d also review their tapes every night and we’re in full camo. We’re like we had to, we were, had to be like, we didn’t have Gil suits or anything like that on, but we were in full camo, hiding in the bushes because we never knew which way that they were gonna flash a camera around. We didn’t want, we wouldn’t want tell them like, oh, only shooting that direction. We wanted them to be able to go anywhere. So we didn’t want two directors staying there,

Mike Sarraille:
Watching in

Dan Myrick:
The visit. Yeah. Yeah. So we had to be hiding and then camo watching their performance. So every now and then we had to reset things and because, you know, Heather might have been going too hot with our performance. We had to kind of tune her down. So we had made these kind of on the, the fly audible adjustments along the way. And then of course watch the footage as dailies every night to see how things were progressing. And that’s sort of how we directed them and kept them on the narrative path, but also preserve this sort of stage of reality. So they could be in character almost the whole time. So at night we would tell them, for example, like the scene with this tense shaken, like, okay guys, yeah. We don’t want anybody getting hurt. As you know, the woods are not lit. Like it is in Hollywood. Like when you’re at night in the woods, it’s pitch black, unless you got a full Moona, you got pretty big canopy. It is dark and you can get an eye poked out. It can be very dangerous. So we, we mapped out a trail for them to run on so they wouldn’t get hurt. So just follow here’s. So stick here. And even

Mike Sarraille:
Then, even then that’s, that’s

Dan Myrick:
Hard, still a little sketchy. Yeah. And they’re three actors, right. So, you know, they’re not like outdoorsmen, so we gave them follow the trail, stay on the trail, don’t go run off the trail. Something’s gonna happen. Just roll camera. The minute something happens, just start rolling camera. They didn’t know exactly what would happen. So we had the baby’s voices outside, the 10, we started shaking the 10 and that was their cute bolt. So we did that. Um, and that was an example where logistically we had to have it kind of mapped out mm-hmm <affirmative>. Um, but it was improvised as well. So it was a little combination of both, but, but it was a lot of that. And, and so that that’s

Mike Sarraille:
A little bit of sleep deprivation.

Dan Myrick:
Oh yeah. I mean, we, we wanted to, we have a famous line from Greg said like your safety is our primary concern, but your comfort is not, that was, that was typical SF guy. Right. Um, so it was eight days. I mean, it’s, they were, they were never gonna starve. Right.

Mike Sarraille:
And so I’ve gotta asked, did you guys, did I read that correctly? You started to,

Dan Myrick: We, their, we ramped back. We ramped back their calories. Um, I mean, cuz there’s just, it’s hard to fake being that tired. Yeah. You know, even with makeup and all, I mean that, I mean you’ve toe when someone’s just bloody exhausted. Yes. And when you’re running a caloric deficit, you just don’t want to do anything. You’re just laying around. You don’t wanna move, you don’t want to get up. You don’t even wanna go to the bathroom. You’re just so beat and beat down. And we wanted to have that look with them. So we, we, and it was raining part of the time, which makes everything more miserable. So again, we gave them enough to get by, but we ramped it down to sort of allow them to be more in character throughout that whole process. And um, so it was a little bit of, we called it method filmmaking, where we were sort of subjected into this sort of, uh, real world thing. I mean, it’s just like in, you know, uh, like, but you guys have the, the fake prison camp exercise. I mean, you know, you’re not, they’re not going actually shoot you in the head or anything like that, but it’s still brutal.

Mike Sarraille:
All you’re pissed

Dan Myrick:
And you’re angry and you’re like, you’re tired. I get it guys. I’m done. You know? So it was sort of a lot like that in a smaller way where, um, they knew they were doing this movie, this crazy wacky movie, but they were pissed and they were, oh, I

Mike Sarraille:
Bet they didn’t know what they signed up for. That’s they

Dan Myrick:
Had a general idea and, and credit to Heather. I mean, here’s a female, right? Yeah. Bunch of dudes in the woods, we’re gonna shoot this snuff film. Like, wait, hold on. What are we doing now? <laugh> I thought I was so I, I really have to credit her for being pretty ballsy about going out there. And, and she even brought a big like hunting knife with her just to be just in case things went south. She had, she had a little protection, but after a while,

Mike Sarraille:
Smart, smart, well trained woman. Smart

Dan Myrick:
Girl. Yeah. So yeah, so it was, um, but she, after a while, especially with, with Greg’s expertise, like we’re mapping out, we got, you know, we, we, we’re definitely concerned about your safety and this and that, and it’s not gonna be comfortable. It’s gonna be camping in the woods and there’s its own sets of hardships. But, um, this ain’t gonna be like a normal movie. <laugh> there’s not gonna be a port of John, you know, offset or, or trailer for you to go back to after things wrap up, it’s gonna be camping for eight days in the

Mike Sarraille:
Woods. And it was not a normal movie on the back end.

Dan Myrick:
No,

Mike Sarraille:
No. Which made it so unique. What I wanna go to aro break and, and what we do for aro break is we ask two questions and then I wanna get into what came next in the I’ve gotta assume it was a rollercoaster cuz yeah, you guys couldn’t anticipate it. I mean, we, we all want whatever we do to, to blow up that is almost an under statement to what Blair, which became

Dan Myrick:
Yeah, it was even to this day, I’m sort of amazed by how big it got and how ill prepared we were for it. Um, but it was like no other movie. It was just, it was even, I mean, I’ve been in this business now for 25, almost 30 years and there was there’s there hasn’t been a movie since that that’s been that kind of culturally changing moment. Um, and it’s, it was, it’s amazing to be a part of that, but, but we learned a lot in that process and it was certainly took all of us by surprise.

Mike Sarraille:
That’s insane. And we’re gonna get to that. So the two questions, one biggest regret of your life,

Dan Myrick:
Biggest regret of my life.

Mike Sarraille:
And these are meant to be stump stump the jumps.

Dan Myrick:
No, no they’re, I mean, I’ve got quite if I’m trying to pick which one <laugh> um,

Mike Sarraille:
I, if not we’ll we’ll default to your wife IM sure.

Dan Myrick:
Yeah. She’s yeah, she’s gotta hold

Mike Sarraille:
It. She’s ready.

Dan Myrick:
Um, I mean, I wish I had, I wish I had stayed in college earlier. I mean, I kind of went in and out. I, I, I would’ve gotten, I think a lot farther, sooner had I have, I had been better disciplined, um, to stay in college. I was kind of a dreamer and, and um, just should have knuckled down and, and, and stuck it out. So I kind of regret, I got sort of a late start in that process. Um, so that’s, I dunno if that’s the biggest regret, but that’s definitely one I would, if I had to do it over,

Mike Sarraille:
I would. That’s amazing. You say that

Dan Myrick:
I would stuck it out.

Mike Sarraille:
<laugh> cause your route there may have been a maturation process there that you just needed that you wouldn’t have gotten in school.

Dan Myrick:
I mean, that’s, it’s a, I think it’s a very good argument and not everybody’s ready to jump right into academics outta high school. You want to have some time to kind of learn, find yourself. So I, I, I get that. Um, so who knows, I mean, I’m, I am where I’m at for the choices I’ve made. Um, but is, but that, I think I’ve had to do it over again. I I’d probably, would’ve attempted to stick it out a little. Yeah. A little more. I was just, um, you know, mucking about as a, as a 18, 19 year old, 20 early, 20 something year old, you know, uh, not, not being as disciplined as I think I should have been, or I could have been. So you,

Mike Sarraille:
You, you mentioned too much of a, a, a dreamer. It seems like that has a bad connotation. Now people are like, oh, he’s just a dreamer. Like good. Just teach him the, the importance of operationalizing or executing, executing upon those dreams. Yeah. Like I want my kids to be dreamers. I just want them to know how to take action to opera, operationalize that dream. And

Dan Myrick:
It’s a good point. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with dreaming and there’s actually, I, we encourage it in our own kids. I love the fact that my, my, both my kids are artistic. My son loves playing music and my daughter’s a really good drawer. And, and, you know, fundamentally it’s, if you’re happy, if you get up in the morning and you’re happy doing what you’re doing and you’re able to make a living at it, you slay the beast. And I’ve said this a million times and I tell them that it’s like, look, you don’t need to be the next Elon Musk. That’s there, there’ll be those folks out there. But if you can get up and you love your job and you, and you’re, you, you can raise a family and do you, you’re doing better than 99% of the people out there. It really is.

Dan Myrick:
So find a way to make those dreams, make you enough of a living to be comfortable and happy. And you’re, you’re good to go. Um, I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive ideas. I don’t think you have to be an attorney if you hate being an attorney to make money or whatever. So I think, um, that’s very possible and I’m most lucky enough to be able to do that. And, um, and sometimes you have to make sacrifices. I mean, like I, like I was saying earlier, I mean, they were my friends that were my age with nice new cars and they had a cool apartment and had all the stuff, but they were working some crap job. They hated. And I was doing what I loved to do, and I didn’t have two pennies to rub together, but you know, I’m thinking, you know, down long term that’ll change and that’s, you have to believe in yourself and have to believe that that what you’re doing will, will pay off

Mike Sarraille:
For, for all the good things that America is. I think that has become one of the most prominent definitions publicly of, of success is money. Yeah. And you just hit it. I, Hey man. I, I had a great job shortly after I retired and I was making good money, but I was miserable in that environment. Yeah.

Dan Myrick:
Miserable. Yeah. Been there. Yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
And, and it was my God blessed, my wife. I mean, she didn’t mind the money that we were pulling in. Yeah. But she’s like, dude, this, this isn’t you just leave. Yeah. And, and it, I mean, don’t get me wrong when I left. There’s been some struggles that income pretty much came to a screeching halt. Yeah. But now that I’ve got my own team and gotta hope I’m creating the environment that they’re enjoying and, and not, you know, having the same feelings, but it’s been, it’s been that much more enjoyable.

Dan Myrick:
It is in a really, that’s really what we’re all doing. We’re looking for happiness right. At the end of the day. And I credit my wife for the same thing where I remember agonizing over things. And she, she gave me the best piece of wisdom in the world. Like, you gotta enjoy the journey. You know, you can sit there, destination, spend the whole time worrying about the destination. You gotta enjoy that journey. And it’s tough sometimes cuz you’re sometimes a journey at the moment sucks, but overall it’s getting you where you want to go, but you have to enjoy that process. And that’s, I think, um, lost a lot in American culture where it’s all focused on. Who’s got the biggest house, who’s got the nicest car, who’s got X, Y, Z, what’s your bank account versus this bank account. It’s like, man, if you’re, I know so many people in Hollywood that have a lot of credits and a lot of money and all, and they’re all miserable.

Dan Myrick:
They’re on their third wife and their kids are estranged. Like I don’t want to be that guy. And I was going down that road like shortly after Blair witch, we were, you know, doing raw feed projects. We were doing six movies for, for Warner brothers. Yeah. I was doing my own movie in Morocco and, and I was not sleeping. I insomnia like crazy. And I was, uh, up all night and it was really a difficult time for us. And it’s one of the reasons why we came out to initially to Seattle to sort of take a sabbatical from all that and kind of recalibrate like what’s I important in my life. I mean, it’s not the volume of movies I’m making. It’s the choosing the right projects that are good for me, good for my, for our family and having a normal life, a balance. And that’s, it’s a tricky thing to, to, to find not a lot of people ever find that. And um, so yeah, I think I credit my wife for being sort of my mentor in that department. She’s a lot, lot smarter than me in a lot of ways, but that was one of those things where you kind of get caught up with the competition. You get caught up with keeping up with the Joneses and all that. And like, I don’t need to be, I don’t need to be the next Spielberg

Mike Sarraille:
Comparison is the, the for joy. Yeah. But so this EU, I think the period, I think I know what you’re talking about is like 2006, 2090.

Dan Myrick:
Exactly. Yeah. And it was, it was, it was great to be written up in the articles and Dan’s really,

Mike Sarraille:
You know, feels pretty freaking good, dude. Let’s be honest.

Dan Myrick:
Everyone’s like, man, you’re kicking

Mike Sarraille:
Ass, blah, blah,

Dan Myrick:
Blah. And like, that’s great and all, but I’m not sleeping. <laugh> I take an Ambien every night and it was really hard. And we had just had our son Tucker, you know, so I was not getting to see him at all and I didn’t want him growing up on a movie set or anything like that. And it was, um, he

Mike Sarraille:
Went straight to the

Dan Myrick:
NICU. He went straight in the NICU right after he first.

Mike Sarraille:
So that was premi.

Dan Myrick:
Yeah. No, just atory respiratory issues.

Mike Sarraille:
Yeah. My, my daughter was a premi for, uh, choosing the NICU for three months. Those were three. The hardest spots. It sounds like where you were at back then is where I’m at now.

Dan Myrick:
Yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
And it’s almost like I’m, uh, one, I get the text from all my buddies like bro, you’re crushing it. Yeah. I’m like, gosh, smoking mirrors, man. That’s my reply. Smoking mirrors. Smoking mirrors. Yeah. Uh, but I struggle with, I think I confuse activity or, or motion with progress. Yeah. And it’s just like, okay, move more, move more, do more, do more do. Yeah. And it’s it. It’s actually not the smart way of doing business. Uh, so that’s very interesting, man.

Dan Myrick:
Yeah. You have to work and that’s part it’s just growing up and become more mature. Yeah. I mean it’s like Michael Jordan May have lost his step later in his career, but he, he still scored the same amount of points he just was smarter with.

Mike Sarraille:
He saw the more direct line to that.

Dan Myrick:
Exactly. So it’s, it’s you kind of get that. He says, okay, motion and movement doesn’t necessarily mean progress. It’s just being smarter about who you work with and the projects that you do. And, and at the end of the day, and a lot of that to me is non motion is like taking the time smarter, not harder just to chill and to enjoy life, go out on a date with your wife. You know, I mean, just take some time for yourself to, to not think about work and doing, and conquering the world all the time. And it’s hard for, of kind of personality that’s used to conquering and getting, and being, being competitive. It’s hard to do that. I’m a competitive person and I can tell, but I find, I find

Mike Sarraille:
We’re looking from the nod from the wife. She’s like, yeah, I find that, that wasn’t a good nod. I was like, yeah. To a detriment. Yeah.

Dan Myrick:
But, but I took up like doing home projects and stuff. I back in C module, I did a lot of remodeling and stuff. So I like learning about tools. I get it from my dad. So I build a deck. And so between projects, I’m very constructive.

Mike Sarraille:
I don’t, so you’re not, you’re not really relaxing. I mean, you’re learning, but it’s,

Dan Myrick:
It’s relaxing for me. It’s therapeutic for me. Cuz the thing I like about a home project is that unlike the film business is that you can come up with an idea. I wanna build a deck or I want to do something to improve the house quality of the life of the kids and all that I can dream up and I can go to home Depot. I can get the stuff, bring it home, build it, complete it. It’s done. I’ve got nobody’s approval other than hers to get what’s in my head. In reality, mm-hmm <affirmative> unlike a movie or a pitch that’s like you could pitch for years and you’re waiting for that phone to ring or someone to say yes, and this is the offset to that. I can get something done that I’ve, that I think of. And it’s all upside for me. You get exercise, you get outside fresh air, learn some new tools. Like it’s an excuse to buy some really cool tools, which is filling up the garage. But um, but you can step back and say, Hey, we got a new deck, we got a new, this, we got new that. So it’s it’s to me. Um, therapeutic.

Mike Sarraille:
So we’re gonna take that Midroll break and uh, we’ll be right back. So welcome back to the, uh, men journal everyday warrior podcast. Uh, we’re here with Dan Myrick, Dan, where we left off. So you guys are done filming, you’ve put your actors through, uh, the equivalent of, of military Sears school torture. Um, and then you guys go the editing phase, which lasts eight to nine months. Right? Dude, walk me through, I mean, because now you’ve gotta distribute this thing and it doesn’t sound like you you’ve had distribution totally secured at this point. Not

Dan Myrick:
At all. No, it was, it was a, it was a crazy process because as I mentioned earlier, the movie itself was sort of an experimental approach to doing a movie and part of what ed and I were trying to accomplish with that initial shooting in the woods was to create this sense of, of realism, um, you know, improvisation that looked 100% genuine. And um, but initially that footage in the woods was supposed to only comprise about 20 minutes of the final film. Mm-hmm <affirmative> we had a phase two that we were shooting. That would be a lot of talking heads analysis about what was going on backstory. So that was all being shot as well, to be included in with the edit. And it was gonna be more of a traditional, like a in search of documentary kind of thing. So we were putting all this together and through the months we started whittling it down and whittling it down and whittling it down and realized, um, after a while that actually we had the whole movie and just the found footage portion of it.

Dan Myrick:
And that took a while to sort of reveal itself through the edit process. Um, and once we finally got to that kind of painful place, um, we had to screen it and that’s really, that’s one of the hardest things I think for anybody to do, whether you’re writing a book or you’re doing a movie or you’re an actor, you know, going up on the screen or a comedian doing their their bit, you’ve gotta go in front of an audience and take your hits. Right. And so the initial screening we, we held, um, at university central Florida film program of all places. So it was a couple years after ours was done. And that was a tough crowd. <laugh> nobody liked the movie. It was in granted, it was about two and a half hours long, but it was, it was, uh, we got hammered and at that screening we felt miserable after that.

Dan Myrick:
No kidding. Yeah. And um, I mean you’re a film student reviewing a movie that you’re kind of by designed to critique. That’s why you’re kind of in they’re 18, 19. They’ve got, yeah, they got all our opinions, right? Yeah. So that, that came away with, with, with dispiriting for us. And then, um, so we did back and look when you screen things a certain for a certain groups of people, regardless of, of the, of the demographics, you can start to sense that there’s a common issue going on. Right? It’s like, so we were, we were teasing out what these common issues were with the screenings that we were doing. And then we made some adjustments to the moving and then we screened it at the Enyon theater, which was like the independent film house in Orlando. Um, it was sort of a rough cut and in the audience was this guy, his name was Kevin Fox.

Dan Myrick:
He was a producer from LA who was out on another movie and a mutual friend said, Hey, come check out our friend Blair movie, would you, you know, it was on the weekend. So he said, yeah, I’ll come check it out. So we screened it for the en zone. So the, the next revision of the film and, um, and after it was over, the guy came up to us, Kevin Fox came up to ed and I said, guys, I loved your movie. And he said, I’ll tell you what, you’re gonna be famous. It was the first thing that was mouth you, you guys are gonna be famous. I’m like, we’re like what? And that’s when we was like, oh, complete 180 from the screening at UCF. Right. So people were really, you know, loving the scare moments and the funny moments and all that. We still had a lot of trimming to do, but we realized that, oh, we might have something that’s worth submitting to festivals or have something that’s worth, worth, um, viewing.

Dan Myrick:
But he was like the first one that saw this could be something big, like a, a big indie movie. Right. Um, so yeah, we went back to the edit suite and ed and I just continued tweaking and tweaking and tweaking and tweaking. And um, and then we took it to New York, had a screening in New York. Um, and Kevin Fox had connections with Jeremy Walker at client and Walker, which is a publicity firm in New York. And they were pretty big deal in, in the indie space. And so he invited them and Jeremy Walker was in the audience and saw the movie and said, this is amazing. I’ve got to be a part of this movie, no way. Um, so we had this publicist on board from New York. We’re like, oh my gosh, this is awesome. So things are, things are starting to roll, starting to roll. And this is way early before Sundance and all that.

Dan Myrick:
But we were starting to assemble this team, got an attorney on board, Stewart, Rosenthal from bloomer, got in LA, he got wind of it. And then eventually Kevin knew the guys at endeavor talent mm-hmm <affirmative> in, in, um, LA, they had just broken a broken away from their, their big agencies and they formed endeavor. So Tom Strickler and, and Ravo, and, and, uh, and those guys all got together and he got the tape, a rough cut to them and they, they watched the movie on their own and, and I’ll never forget it, but they flew out to Orlando. I mean, ed and me and Greg were playing pool at a, at a, at a pub pub. And they flew out in secret and they went into the pub and said, we wanna sign your movie up. Never happens. That never happens. We’re like, oh man, God.

Dan Myrick:
And so, and that, so we were one of their first kind of big kind of buys. And so they rep they wanted to represent the movie. So when they got on board, then things started really like falling into place. They, they got us kind of a, a choice screening at Sundance for them to review the movie. And then for, you know, what everyone’s talking about it like low level talking about. So it all builds on itself getting the blessing of John Pearson and then Kevin Fox coming on board and then, you know, client or Walker coming on board, all building, building, building, and the movies standing on its own two feet. They’re loving the film, which was really encouraging to ed. And I, this is fresh. This is different. This is truly a scary movie. We think this could be a big film. So all that ramping up, started a strategy.

Dan Myrick:
How do we get into the big festivals? And so we had a strategy submitting to a couple of choice, like L a, a F F and, and LA or Sundance, a couple other ones, but Sundance is sort of, that’s the holy grail, right. For indie movies. So we submitted to Sundance waiting and waiting and waiting. And, um, and then we get a call from L a F F Los Angeles and independent film festival. They’re not, they’re no longer around, but they were a pretty big deal in those days. And they said, we want your movie. You’re in competition. We’re like, oh my God, this is great. And you just have to say yes and say, okay, well, we’re still waiting here back from Sundance, da, da, so, well, we really, really want you. Um, and then we get a call from Sundance and we’re in like, and dude, I can not tell you what a relief that was for us.

Dan Myrick:
We, Greg, um, was a drummer and he went out and bought a bunch of bongo drums <laugh> so we got drunk and we were just playing bongo, drum drums all night, just as a, just a release. You know, it was, it was, it was a blast, but so we got into Sundance and there was for, for a little while, there was a debate. Do we go to L a F F or do we go to Sundance? And I’m like, we gotta do Sundance. Yeah. Say, well, Sundance was a midnight screening and we weren’t in competition, but in L a F will be in competition. Sundance, do Sundance, no matter what do Sundance your worst day at Sundance is better than anybody else. So we decided on doing Sundance. And, um, and that’s when things really started becoming surreal because we had no reference point going into this world.

Dan Myrick:
Right. We were, you guys are fresh outta the gate, bunch of knuckleheads that were working day jobs. And so suddenly we were being quartered at Sundance. And, and because of the split screen show, which was primarily viewed by industry folks, mm-hmm <affirmative>, they were, they were, you know, it was a big kind of hit with a industry elite in, in LA. So they had caught wind of this weird kind of documentary, this kind of about these three filmmakers missing. No one was sure what was real or what wasn’t real. So it’s, it’s screening at Sundance. So it’s getting some buzz prior to Sundance. And then we started our website about, you know, six months prior. So we were getting some heat off the website, ramping up into Sundance. So we had a, a lot of anti anticipation built prior to Sundance. So endeavor, you know, rented a big condo out there and he’s, we’re holding court for all the distributors.

Dan Myrick:
We’re sitting ed and I are sitting like a couple knuckleheads in a, in a posh apartment in Sundance and like Lionsgate come or before Lionsgate. Yeah. Artisan and new lion. They’re all coming. We love you guys. We love you, blah. Okay. What, see your movie like this, all this, what’s so hard about this. This is the way it’s all done. Right? <laugh> no clue that this is really unusual. And then we screened our first night at the Egyptian, um, which was completely nerve wracking, as you might imagine. Um, and we sold that night. We were the first one to sell at Sundance and we sold to artisan, like at two in the morning that night. And it was, it was, did, did they up there offer after watching that? Yeah, no, they, they, they, uh, it was a, it was a bit of a bidding war.

Dan Myrick:
Yeah. Cause MIAX was interested. Um, new line was interested and artisan was fresh out of the gate. They had just done pie the year before Darren AKIs movie. And they had big success with that. And that was like a five or 6 million box office, which is huge for an indie movie. So they felt that Blair witch was even more commercial than PI was mm-hmm <affirmative>, they’re thinking this could be $20 million, you know, for them. And it was funny cuz once they bought the movie, we were like, yay, we’re all celebration. And all the presses reporting and all that. So the, the heads of artisan bill block and the mere Melin took us all out to dinner. So we’ve met all the whole artisan team on one side of the table and that the, the Hacken guys all on this other side of the table, so we’re dying and having a great time.

Dan Myrick:
It’s it’s the whole, you know, um, honeymoon phase, right? Yeah. So we’re at Sundance having a great time and we are having a few drinks and um, and someone said, so we just asked this, what do you think this is gonna make box office. We’re pretty confident. This will do 20, could be 20 million. We’re like what? 20 million. Um, and then we, I laid a bet on the table. I said, I’ll tell you what, uh, if we break 30 million box office for our whole run, you guys had to buy us a competition grade foosball table, cuz I was really into foosball at the time. And I got all the guys hooked onto it. I bought some cheap Walmart version, foosball table for the office and it was our stress reliever. Right. I mean, we were just, we’d get all bunched up in the edit, we’d go up and play game of foosball.

Dan Myrick:
And I got a bit of an obsession after a while. <laugh> so I said, and I always ended this big, you know, at the pub and got the, the massive, big torn auto foods ball table. So you guys gotta buy us competition grave, boo ball table. If we break 30 million at the bottom and they’re like, yeah, whatever. Okay. And they’re just, it was a joke. Um, we did 32 in the first weekend and lo and behold man, like two weeks later at our offices shows up delivery truck comes up and they’re offloaded <inaudible> table. We’re like, yeah, we took a picture of us in front of it. And it was just, we were off to the races at that point. So, um, so it was a, it was a story book, like dream come true for any indie filmmaker. What happened with Blair witch? It was so unusual and, and you could not have scripted it to be like more, more amazing. Um, but it is definitely the exception to the rule <laugh> and um, but yeah, it was, it was a crazy special time. Um, and I’ll never forget it it’s just was, it was incredible.

Mike Sarraille:
And for a lot of people, they probably don’t know the set records in the sense of, well, yeah, I’ve read both 22,000 for the, uh, production 35,000. So let’s say ballpark 30,000. Yeah. And how much did it do at the box office total?

Dan Myrick:
All in it did about 250 million worldwide,

Mike Sarraille:
Um, lowest production budget to highest grossing film.

Dan Myrick:
Yeah. I mean it’s when you’re factoring in 1990 $9, I think it still holds the record. Um, and, and I think DVD was like close to 67 million. It was pretty crazy. So yeah, it was insane. Um, you know, we did spend more money once artisan bought the movie, we, um, we shot, they wanted us to shoot new endings. We shot five new endings for it. You’re kidding. Um, cuz they weren’t sure about the guy standing in the corner in the basement. I thought that was beautiful. So they were freaking out about, I don’t know if this, so we did a test screening in New Jersey mm-hmm <affirmative> and people were like, not sure about the ending and you know, truth be told even when you get in advance, like a company buys your movie and they give you, you know, an advance, you don’t see that money for like a year.

Mike Sarraille:
No

Dan Myrick:
Kidding. The advance is like on paper, but you don’t, they take the advance out of the box office. So the movie has to get released and start bringing the revenue and then they give you your advance. So it’s smart.

Dan Myrick:
So we’re still broke. Right? We’ve got the biggest hit at Sundance and everyone’s talking about, you know, how, how great everything we’re still trying to pay our phone bill. Right. So they said, look guys, wanna shoot five new endings. We, we think we wanna test them out, say that was money right then and there we’ll pay you to go shoot. Alright, we’ll go do it. So they pay this to shoot these five new endings, which were all the endings that ed and I threw out and that we hated, but we shot him anyway. Cut him in. Nobody liked him. So, um, it was funny. I remember co bill block co-president of artisan at the time said bill, the guys and I, we talked this over, said we really wanna keep the original ending. Yeah. In the movie. And bill was like to his credit said, well, Dan, I don’t know. I think it’s gonna cost us a lot at the box office, but we’ll keep your ending. <laugh>

Mike Sarraille:
He qualified the statement.

Dan Myrick:
Yeah. So, gotcha. So it ended up being one of the most talking about aspects of the movie. Oh yeah, of course. But,

Mike Sarraille:
And that, and that’s what I found just disturbing or bothering is, I mean the end left you in such. Yeah. I mean, you, you went through a rollercoaster of emotions the way they

Dan Myrick:
Ended, it’s the ambiguity and not really knowing what was going on. And it was, it was the creepiness of that. I think that lend itself and it’s a fine line to walk when you’re, when you’re playing with ambiguities like that. But, um, but it just goes to show you that nobody really knows anything in the business. Even, even the executives that artists and nobody really knows <laugh> they’re like, everyone’s sort of, it’s a bit of a crapshoot, no matter what you do. Um, so it’s always a hard road. It’s always a tough sell. I mean, any dream usually is. And um, but again, if you’re, if you’re confident in what you’re doing and you think you’ve got something cool and you can usually tell whenever you’re pitching something or an idea or nugget of a creative idea and people respond on the kind of the ground level, you know, you’re on to something. And that was what Blair was. We pitch that basic premise to anybody like really when you get that footage. Well, I mean, what kinda, you knew you were onto, you see a little spark in their eye. So we knew we were onto something. We didn’t know how big it was gonna be, but we knew we had a little bit of a hook that, that uh, would turn people on and I think any good ideas that way.

Mike Sarraille:
And so some weird things started to happen after the, uh, the film mm-hmm <affirmative> and I can’t remember if it was you that told me if we read this, was there a certain, uh, organization that paid you a visit governmental? Uh,

Dan Myrick:
Well there was a cop. Um, I’m trying to think if there’s anybody else,

Mike Sarraille:
Was it, was it the FBI?

Dan Myrick:
No, he was a, he was an Albany police detective

Mike Sarraille:
Who thought this was real

Dan Myrick:
Thought it was real, got a call from this guy. And so I’m like nervous and like, okay, I’ve researched this. I’ve worked in that area for 20 years and I’ve talked to my colleagues and he’s going on and on about, I’ve gone through the past case files. I do not see this case anywhere in the Albany area or the Maryland area. And I’m just curious as to where, where this case and I just stopped him. I said, sir, sir, this is all a movie. This is all fake. And there’s a long pause where I’m thinking, am I gonna get arrested or what’s going on? He just started laughing.

Speaker 3:
<laugh> no. Okay. He just started cracking up. He goes, you have no idea how much energy I put. No, he’s searching this.

Dan Myrick:
I go, I’m

Speaker 3:
Sorry. I don’t mean to you.

Dan Myrick:
He was like, well, if there’s anything I can do for you guys and help out in any way, I’d love to be involved. He was a really nice guy, but I can just picture him making phone calls to his buddies at the, at the station and knowing like, what is up with this like three missing filmmakers saying I’ve never heard of this case before. And I worked that area for years. He was completely sucked in. And he goes that you guys did a good job cuz it’s my job to not to

Speaker 3:
Be fooled like this that’s that is the, the ultimate, uh, compliment. Absolutely.

Mike Sarraille:

At what point did you guys find out about, uh, time magazine?

Dan Myrick:
Um, they, we did a photo shoot for them. Um, we were kind of in this sort of whirlwind of magazine shoots. Mm-hmm <affirmative> like the minute we got bought, we were purchased at Sundance. You know, like Mike Williams was one of the actors. I mean he came in late, so he just got off steps outta the shuttle van. And like, so what happened? You gotta go to a premier photo shoot, dude, get ready. He was like, what?

Speaker 3:
And off he went,

Dan Myrick:
So he’s doing a cover shoot for premier magazine. And so it was just a whirlwind. So time magazine wanted to do a photo shoot with us.

Mike Sarraille:
Did not only the photo shoot the cover.

Dan Myrick:
We didn’t know the cover at the time. So it was like we were through a photo super time magazine. We figured we’d be some article buried into the magazine somewhere. So, oh this is cool time magazine. Um, so we did this, we did this shoot for time and um, and a lot of them, most of these shoots were kind of cheesy. They wanted to ed and I like, Ooh, you know, doing all like scary stuff with, but it was fun. Um, and it wasn’t until about two weeks after we did the shoot that we heard some rumors through our publicist that you guys they’re talking about possible to cover. And we’re like, what? So we heard a little bit of, you know, machinations about they, they were debating on whether or not we should make the cover or not. And a lot of it’s just what’s most newsworthy.

Dan Myrick:
Yes. And I think wasn’t it the time where Kennedy’s plane went down. Yeah. Right around that time where Kennedy’s plane junior. Yeah. Yeah. Went down. So, oh, that’s definitely gonna make the cover. I hate to think in terms like that, cuz it was a tragedy, but we’re a couple goofy filmmakers. I mean this the, you know, so, so that was, we weren’t sure. And then I was sitting in my office, uh, we were on the Disney back lot at the time they gave us some free kind of bungalow space. So we sitting on the back line and Greg, the producer walks in and he had the time magazine cover in one hand and the Newsweek cover and the other hand, same week and walks in the then. And I’m like, what, what is happening? And we’re on the cover of both magazines at the same week.

Dan Myrick:
And we’re like, and then I’m getting calls from friends, dude, I’m in the airport, you’re on the cover of dime magazine at the magazine rack. Freaking out best advertisement you guys can can ask for. Yeah, it was, it was just, it was absolutely crazy. And um, and then I remember I’ve said this a million times, but I remember ed and I, ed came into town. It was the Barnes and Nobles in Pasadena. And we were in Pasadena. I can’t remember what it was for. Then we were doing some interviews or whatever. So ed and I went to the Barnes and noble in Pasadena and we were walking by the magazine rack and Barnes and noble, especially in Pasadena has a big film section. Right? Lots of film, filmmaker magazine and movie maker, magazine and variety all there. Every one of those magazines had us mentioned from variety to movie maker.

Dan Myrick:
It was Blair, which mentioned Blair, which point we’re like, and we’re looking around, nobody knows who we are. We’re like, we’re on every one of these magazines. And we were just like trying to process from obscurity to, to this becoming a crazy thing. And this was, and it was just getting started. And then so then we got into can. So we were like, you’re going to can like, okay, so we hop a plane, we’re going to can, and we get off the plane and Jeremy Walker, who’s absolutely one of the most brilliant publicists. I think whoever lived, he’s just an amazing individual and got us, he, he understood social media and blog or we did interviews for the smallest blog to the biggest publication you can. I mean, he was just, we were doing interviews back to back for a solid year, but so we got to can and Jeremy said, okay, so we are got you guys on a panel said, oh cool.

Dan Myrick:
I think I’m gonna a little ed and I’m gonna do a little panel. And so they usher us. It’s like the, the day after we arrived. So we’re kind of like, well, you know, so jet lagged. So we go to this panel, Ron Howard is on the panel, spike Lee, John sales. Right. And that ed and Dan <laugh> were like, what? Okay, we should be in the audience on this panel. But anyway, we’re up there on the panel and we’re sort of the, the flavor of the month. Right? We’re the, we’re the shiny new toy. So everyone’s, Hey, go ahead. Clap. Like, oh my God, I can’t believe we’re even here. And, um, Faye Dunaway is in the audience. No kidding. Asking us about how much she loved our movie and asking us all these questions about player witch. It’s like you’re Fay Dunaway. <laugh> I have a few questions for you.

Dan Myrick:
So it was surreal. I mean, being in the south of France, if you’ve ever been there, it’s just surreal in itself. Right. It’s like a ferry land to be there. And can, is Hollywood on steroids? Mm-hmm <affirmative> right. Mm-hmm <affirmative> international audience and all that. So we won the, the pre-do international award, which is young director’s awards. So we won that, that, that kind of coveted award, which was really an honor and amazing. And um, but it was two weeks of just nonstop party, uh, interviews, publicity events. I don’t think we slept more than five hours the whole time. And so they had a party if I’m rambling too much, just lemme know. But, but we had a party on the beach for Blair. It’s again, another one of many surreal moments, but they shipped in like 300 trees and planted them on the beach to make woods on in the south of France.

Dan Myrick:
Right. Well, we didn’t know this. We were like, so ed and I get trucked, so you gotta go to the party. It’s like, oh, we just wanna sleep. It’s your party, man. You gotta go. All right. So we direct this to the party and there’s a huge line down the, down the CRO, the Boulevard there. And uh <laugh> and we, so we go in the party, oh, let ’em in, let ’em in. I’m going, Hey, sorry man. You know, we’re all embarrassed. We go in, there’s a forest on the beach, on the beach, right. There’s probably several hundred people at this party. You all having a great time. They have no clue who we are and we’re sitting there. Um, and we’re on the beach. It was Rob it the whole game, Mike, Rob and, and, and ed and Greg and myself sitting on the beach. And we just all sparked up a cigar <laugh> I get emotional, but we’re sitting there looking at the south of France, the ho one of the big hotels across the, across the, the, the Boulevard woods, surrounded by woods. It’s broke as shit, six months earlier. And the whole world is like at our feet right now, smoking the cigar. I’m like what has happened? It’s like the most amazing experience ever. And we just sort of like, you know, we did it,

Mike Sarraille:
Man. You’re making me emotional dude. That’s

Dan Myrick:
The thing is you tell yourself that dreams do come true. You tell yourself that you’re constantly telling yourself that because that’s, what’s motivating you. Like you see other people win the lottery, you see other people win, um, and get their, and make their dreams. And it’s it’s and it’s you read about it and you talk about it. But when it actually happens, when you actually, when you see there and you’re living their, your dream, um, it just reinstalls your faith in everything, right? It’s like, I wish everyone could have this feeling. I really wish everything. I mean, it doesn’t come easy. It’s heck a lot of hard work and you need to be surrounded by an amazing team. Um, but it can happen. It can and does happen. So that was one of those moments. And then like right after that, Jeremy came up, taught this on the show, Hey, Mel Gibson is at your party.

Dan Myrick:
Like Mel, can we meet him? Sure. So we Mel’s hanging out at a party and they do that a lot at these Hollywood parties still they’ll ask a celebrity or two to come in to kind of up your profile. Like Mel Gibson was at our premier party. So go over to where Mel’s sitting and it’s all corded off. He’s got his bodyguards and everything say, Hey, I’m here to meet Mel. I’m like, Hey Mel, how you doing? Hey guys, congratulations. You know, it’s nice guy. Um, but it was, that was just the beginning of all these amazing, surreal Mel. I mean, I could go on all day and tell you about what that whole two years was like. But, um, but yeah, realizing the dream is always an emotional thing for me because, you know, especially when you start with such humble beginnings and I was, I wasn’t like, like some of these folks, I mean, I wasn’t like dirt poor or anything like that. And we working,

Mike Sarraille:
But you weren’t rich

Dan Myrick:
Working class family. I worked my way through college. You know, it was, it wasn’t, it, it was wasn’t easy, but I, a lot of people had it worse than I did, but it was, it was the American dream man. It was really the American dream where you have a great idea. You have a good team. Anybody can reach that pinnacle of success. If, if, if, if you’ve got, if you’ve got the wherewithal and, and a good team and a good idea behind you, and that’s what is so amazing sometimes when you see that happen and it was just very fortunate that we were able to do it.

Mike Sarraille:
Let, let me ask this, cuz I’ve seen this in a lot of high performers guys who’ve won championships and they’re like, okay, I just don’t wanna talk about that championship anymore. Um, do you still hold the Blair wish project as your most coveted film?

Dan Myrick:
Yeah. In a lot of ways. I mean the thing with Blair, it’s always a double edged sword in a way, because you get defined by that. You know, that’s like, it’s like if you did one deployment, that was the deployment. That’s all, anyone knows you about like, well, no, man, we did there’s hundred other things that we did that we are equally as amazing. It just didn’t get the publicity. So I’m incredibly proud of Blair witch, incredibly proud. It came at the right time of my life, the right time in the film business. It was, it will always be something that I’m proud of and will be known for. And, but do you want to be defined by that? Well, in some ways, yes, because we worked hard on it. I mean, we, we thought we were doing something cool and original and very proud of that accomplishment.

Dan Myrick:
I mean, I don’t hold back at all. We worked really hard to make that happen. That’s awesome. But at the same time, you know, I have other tools in my belt, right. And like my last film sky, man, I’m very proud of. And we got a great review in New York times on that. And we premiered did the Austin film festival. It wasn’t Blair witch by the social standard or the society standards and, and in its in his box office. But I’m very proud of that movie. And I’m pretty much proud of every film I’ve been on. And, and so, but that to me is all bonus. Right? Blair witch was like, you, you climb down Everest and you, you totally, it’s the highest peak in the, in the, in the known universe right now you, you did it without oxygen with no oxygen. You told a sheers to take a hike and you’re doing it right.

Dan Myrick:
And you made it. And so every other mountain peak is cool and great and they’re special in their own ways, but Everest will always be Everest. Right. Yeah. So, um, so yeah, it’s a little bit of a double edged sword that you, at least for me, um, you don’t wanna be solely defined by one thing, but at the same time, you’re so honored and humbled that you’ve got to do it. And so I never really get tired of answering the Blair questions or people that are interested in it because it might be their first time hearing about stuff. Um, and I’ve, I’ve always said that it is best to be known for something, right. They’re not, not yeah. And they’re not, they be completely not known for anything. So I’m um, and, and the sort of the armchair philosopher in me, um, sees Blair is an amazing case study.

Dan Myrick:
Like stand looking on the outside, looking in, like, why did Blair happen and what, what made it, what it was? Because I get asked these questions all the time and some very kind of intellectual informed, you know, journalists who have these long discussions about what was that about Blair that was so different. I was like, you know, I was on the inside looking out. And, but sometimes I like to be where you are kind of analyzing it from a more objective perspective. And so I’m, it’s a, it’s a really interesting case study to kinda look at what generated so much interest and made people. So in some ways, easily fooled. I still have people today that think Blair was real. And, um, and, and most of my films, if you notice sort of dabble in that space about what is it about phenomena that people want to buy into. And, um, it’s a little bit of SIOP, you know, mm-hmm, <affirmative> making movies is manipulation, right? Mm-hmm <affirmative> and I see it happening in the media. I know exactly what the game they’re playing, whether it’s,

Mike Sarraille:
If you spin the narrative long

Dan Myrick:
Enough, if it’s MSNBC or Fox news, I get what they’re doing. I see how it’s all doing it. And so it’s, it’s um, as a case study, it’s, it’s an amazing, um, thing to evaluate about how susceptible we are as, as, as humans to want to believe something. And, and you just give ’em enough of that, um, information and people will be they’re all in.

Mike Sarraille:
It’s funny. You, you mentioned a case study cuz I talked to, but he was went to film school, uh, Loyola, uh, Marymount. And uh, he said, yeah, he’s like, it’s basically the case study that every, you know, you can count on, it’s a case study in every film school now. Right. And I know you’ve got a lot more films in you and I know we’ve talked about teaching and that you found, you find this emotional return on investment of teaching the next generation, you just see the excitement in their SI exactly. Their eyes. Is there, is there ever a future you may do that permanently at one point.

Dan Myrick:
I think I, I could see myself doing that. Well, one it’s it’s just easier on the body <laugh> yeah. I mean

Mike Sarraille:
You could do it remotely,

Dan Myrick:
Go remotely. Um, I mean, cuz making a movie is it’s it’s stressful, you know, both physically psychically mentally. It’s really a, it’s very, very stressful. And um, and as much as I love doing it, um, I also love encouraging others to do it. And, and I also acknowledge that look I’m I’m of my own generation. I can only see life through my own per prism of experience. And, and there’s a whole new generation of filmmakers that are seeing things differently. And it’s exciting to see the kind of stories they’re telling through social media now and different form factors and all this new like VR, my son’s into VR now. Like this is an incredible new world of storytelling. So encouraging them to do what it is their generation wants to do. But at the same time, linking them back to the fundamentals of storytelling. There’s still value.

Dan Myrick:
It’s like when that’s why we studied the classics when I was in college and reading those classic books and all this is what a good story. I mean read mark Twain and Shakespeare and those guys, there’s a reason why they endure cuz they’re following those basic rules of storytelling. So instilling that fundamental core that there’s no free lunch. Mm-hmm <affirmative> you may have all the gimmicks and you may be an Instagram of influencer now, but next week, if you don’t really have what it takes to engage foundation. Yeah. You don’t have that foundation. So I like to think I can be the person that like foundation’s important, but do it in your own way. That’s very, really satisfying for me. And, and they’ll come back with stuff that you just didn’t anticipate. I mean, I’ve got other filmmaker, friends of mine that are teachers and they really love it because you get to learn and you get to experience kind of whole new perspectives on storytelling. It’s it’s it’s just a lot of fun. It doesn’t pay anything <laugh> but it’s, but it is

Mike Sarraille:
Fun that you I’ve told my wife, she thinks I’m crazy. I’m like, what do you wanna be when you’re 67? I said, I wanna be teaching at a university leadership development. That’s it. Right. And probably very few universities will hire me. Yeah. But there will be one maybe the university of Idaho out of Kurland. Yeah, I will do that. I don’t care. Um, but you know, you’ve got a project of your own and talk about being hard on the body. I wanna talk about this. So you’re doing a bike ride to raise, uh, funding for the wounded warrior project. Correct. Tell me a little about that when it starts the, the distance and, and you’re doing it by yourself, which is

Dan Myrick:
Yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
A little risky.

Dan Myrick:
It’s a little risky. I mean it’s uh, it’s I kind of got back into biking during COVID it was a, it was, uh, you know, there wasn’t a lot to do, especially here on the island and the gyms were all shut down and everything. So, you know, I didn’t wanna just sit there and, you know, become a couch potato. So I can’t really jog cause I got like a bad ankle. So it starts to bother me when I’m jogging. So biking took up biking again, started biking around here and, and then discovered this subculture called bike packing. And I love camping. I’ve camped my whole life. So I, oh this is cool. It’s a combination of biking, adventure, biking, and going out and basically camping. And so one thing like another spending a lot of time on YouTube, looking at videos and all, and there’s this big tour divide it’s called the grant, the, the, uh, great divide mountain bike, route GD.

Dan Myrick:
And it starts in ban Canada and goes all the way down to the Mexican border. And it’s all offroad mountain bike trails connection, uh, of, you know, logging roads, gravel roads, occasional highway, but mostly 90% is all offroad and you’re going down the spine of the continental design divide. So it’s absolutely gorgeous, but a lot of climbing it’s about 180. Yeah. 180,000 feet of climbing. So I said, this typical me is like, like I, I, I learned to skiing a little bit in Sundance. Like I did the bunny slope, like the first part of the afternoon. Then I want, I finally go do a black diamond just for the hell of it. Right. That’s me. <laugh>,

Mike Sarraille:
That’s a choice. That’s definitely a choice. That’s stupid.

Dan Myrick:
But so like just getting this back bike packing thing. So I’m gonna do the granddady of the mall, which is this, this particular route and

Mike Sarraille:
How many, uh, miles total

Dan Myrick:
It’s 2,700 miles end to end in about 180,000 feet of climbing. So, um, I said, I’ll do the first half last year. That’s what I did. So, so it was from, and I couldn’t go into Canada cuz of the COVID restrictions. Yeah. So I had to start the border. So I went from, from Roseville, Montana and got all the way down to, uh, Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Okay. Which is about 1400 miles. So that’s part one and I’m finishing up part two in two days. I leave in two days. Um, so I’m starting, I’m going northbound this time. I’m going from the Mexican border antelope Wells and stopping in Steamboat. So that’s about

Mike Sarraille:
Through Texas?

Dan Myrick:
Uh, no I’m going through New Mexico into Colorado. Okay. Where coming down. I went through uh, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and then into Colorado. Beautiful. Yeah, absolutely gorgeous. I mean, I can’t tell you how beautiful it is. I mean it’s hard work, but it’s, it’s absolutely beautiful. And the people you meet are incredible. Um, but yeah, going solo unsupported and uh, and I can show you the bike out there. It’s like your whole life is on your bike. Yeah. It’s like your, your, your kid look, your kid’s completely on your bike and you go for, I don’t know, maybe three or four days, you’re in the back country and you have to camp and all that stuff. And then you’ll come into a town and you’ll resupply, excuse me. And then you go back out again and, and you’re just doing the trail. So are you

Mike Sarraille:
Ready for the heat? Cause I mean, it’s, it’s what 60 out outside now, now you’re gonna step into a hundred.

Dan Myrick:
I know it’s crazy. But last year it was actually pretty hot in, in, it was 106 degrees in Eureka when I started last year. Damn. Um, and then there was fires all the way down the, to fires everywhere. Um, but I grew up in Florida, so I’m, I’m used to the heat and it’s um, you know, it’s a lot about as you, I’m sure you know, with doing as much PT as you guys do, it’s like listening to your body. So much of us listening to your body, not trying to push through and be a badass. Your body is really good at communicating what it wants and needs.

Mike Sarraille:
So we’re just not very good at

Dan Myrick:
Listening. There you go. Yeah. And a lot of guys that get into trouble, they try to like so many, they’ll start off the route on their bike and they’re like weekend warriors. They’ll ride a few times a week and they’ll go out, I’m gonna do a hundred miles a day. It’s like, you’re blowing your knee out in three days. And suddenly you have to tap out. It’s like, just start off easy. You know, if it’s hot ride in the mornings or ride in the evenings, don’t do it in the, in the, in the heat of the day and just be smart, take it in smaller chunks. And as you condition into the ride, then you’ll, then you’ll be more, more robust. Yeah. As you get up into the higher elevations where it’s cooler. But, um, but yeah, a lot of it’s just camping techniques and, and just being smart, you know, avoiding bears and that sort of, of thing. <laugh> the,

Mike Sarraille:
The realization that we’re, we’re not spring chickens anymore. Absolutely.

Dan Myrick:
It’s hard for you. Don’t recover as fast. You know, you get an injury and it takes a little bit longer to recover and, and knock on wood. Nothing major will happen, but I always, you know, I’ve got my spot tracker, so yeah. You know, search and rescue can come pick me up if I’m really in trouble.

Mike Sarraille:
Is it like a little button?

Dan Myrick:
It is got a,

Mike Sarraille:
A phone I can’t get up

Dan Myrick:
SOS button. Yeah. It’s, it’s a satellite tracker. So it allows me to also send text messages via satellite. Yeah. So I can communicate to Julia and say, okay, I’ll be here. I’m leaving now. Everything’s cool. And she can see on the map where I’m moving every 10 minutes it uploads and she can track me. So if I’m sitting

Mike Sarraille:
Now, she wanted to worry, is she, she gonna be the type of person that’s checking in on the,

Dan Myrick:
Or I all wise worry. Right. All husbands worry, but she’s, she’s like, she encourages me to do it. And so this is where I’m super, super lucky, um, keeps me in shape. Yeah. And it’s, it’s a little bit of that. Um, you know, challenge that I, I kind of need in my life. So

Mike Sarraille:
Is, is, and we’ll try to get this out and now is this something people can follow you, you gonna do. Check-ins on social media and don’t take,

Dan Myrick:
I’m thinking about taking up a notch on social media, cuz I’ve got a Facebook page where I checked in a little bit, but I might do a little better this time on this part too. Cuz we got, you know, a fair amount of donations for the, for that was my warrior project. Yeah. So I really want to kind of, um, get as much as I can generated for, for that. Cause as I can so,

Mike Sarraille:
Well I know you you’re taking a camera with you. Yeah. So document it we’ll cover it in men’s journal. Awesome. Uh, but until then, is there a place people can go to make a donation?

Dan Myrick:
Yeah. You can go to the wounded warrior project website and you, you put in the search function, you put my name in and it’ll take you to my page. Okay. So you can donate right directly on the page. You can also follow me on Facebook so you can get the link that way as well. But um,

Mike Sarraille:
You you’re just showing your age with the Facebook.

Dan Myrick:
I know dude. I know my, my, my, my, my daughter and Facebook. So I’m just getting an Instagram now. Okay. I gotta do Instagram. Um, I don’t have a social media team anymore, so I gotta, gotta go. I gotta go. Uh, I gotta evolve. But um, but yeah, it’s been, it’s been an amazing experience and it’s for an amazing cause for, you know, contributing to, to, to, to the lives of the, of the soldiers that make, make and help people. I mean, do bike rides, you know, this is, I mean they’re they’re they allow us to, to, we take it for granted sometimes the freedoms we have in this country and it’s just, it’s, it’s

Mike Sarraille:
Dan that’s, that’s a freaking understatement. Yeah.

Dan Myrick:
That’s

Mike Sarraille:
You know, perspective. And don’t get me started perspective is a, uh, is a powerful thing. Yeah. And we’ve had it so good. I, I I’ll use the word entitlement. We’ve become entitled to think that 100% we we’ve become Karen’s in a sense.

Dan Myrick:
Well, I mean the thing is it just, again, we’re getting back to the devil edge sword thing is like, you know, as a father, I’m raising my kids not to go through the same crap I went through.

Mike Sarraille:
Yeah. Of course. To give,

Dan Myrick:
I want them and give them a better life. Provide for them, not have to worry about paying for college and all that kind of stuff. So you, I work really hard to provide that for ’em. But at the same time I learned a lot having to struggle. I learned a lot, you know, pulling myself up by my bootstraps and that sort of thing. So you want to convey to them that what you’ve got is, is you’re very fortunate and there’s a lot of people behind the scenes, uh, you know, allowing for this life that we have. And, and no, no, no one person is doing it in a vacuum. Yeah. And, and when I think about defense and our soldiers out there in the field and the more I get to know, um, the community, um, mean I’ve always had a respect for it, but it’s, it’s, it’s a lot of, it’s a cursory respect. We’re a real deep respect for the sacrifices that are made. Um, the intellect, the creativity that’s required to do an effective job in those fields is something I don’t think gets enough credit.

Mike Sarraille:
It’s it’s the American way, regardless of the military. I mean, we, we, you know, there’s a reason that the, you go overseas and people ask you’re a cowboy and you know, I grew up in, in Barra damn right. On a cowboy yeah. To the American way.

Dan Myrick:
Yeah. And we, and I like to still like to think that we are defending the good as hand handed as we’ve been in some conflicts. Yeah. And we we’ve, and, but at the end of the day, most of the mistakes we’ve made have been well intentioned that we, we were going in for the right idea and reach, you

Mike Sarraille:
Know, what they say about the, the road to help <laugh>. Yeah,

Dan Myrick:
Exactly. But, um, but there is a fundamental difference between our guys. Yeah. And the Taliban. Yes. There’s a, there’s a clear difference in, in between good versus evil, in my opinion. And, and like there’s there’s, and I’m, I’m not, I don’t wanna oversimplify it. There’s there were members of the Taliban that didn’t want to be there. They were, they were, you know, you’re in a village and the war, Lord of the Taliban is saying, I’m gonna kill your family if you don’t join. So you can have a lot of choice you join. Right. So I can’t say that as, as all of it, but, but

Mike Sarraille:
Even have fun that I, I have empathy for that. This is a story from another time, but we had to watch a guy we captured for, it was like 36 hours. Yeah. Until somebody, uh, came and picked him up and we ended up playing video games with the guy. Right. And he was a, I don’t wanna say a high level, but he was a significant Al-Qaeda, uh, leader and you walked away and you’re like, Hey, there’s not much difference between that guy and us. Yeah. Other than the ideology, he believes the ideology,

Dan Myrick:
We believe. Yeah. There’s a different kind of something got tweaked or perspectives.

Mike Sarraille:
Experiences. Yeah, yeah. What he was fed in terms of,

Dan Myrick:
Of, uh, and when you’re young perceptions, I mean, you, those Moros, and they’re pumping, they’re pumping out, you know, these, these extremists and stuff like that. And sending ’em over, it’s like part of you feel sorry for the whole thing. Like, like I wish you guys weren’t brainwashed that regard and, and, you know, we’re all brainwashed to some degree, it was a where we grow up. But, um, but again, getting back to the soldiers that are out there, you know, ground pounding and doing, doing that dirty, hard, uh, demanding job is something I have a great respect for. And also when they come home, transitioning back to civilian life and giving them, you know, a firmer ground to stand on. Yeah. I think that’s one of the things we kind of fail as a country in some ways is, is transitioning those guys and gals back to hundred percent. Yeah. That’s percent and my really micro little way trying to help out in that regard. But, um, but yeah, greatly appreciate and respect what, what you guys do for us.

Mike Sarraille:
Well, we, we, we had the respect and appreciate what you’re doing, raising funds for the, uh, the wounded warrior project. We’ll, we’ll make sure to, to promote that, but in the same regard, man, you know, we did between missions O over there was that as we pulled up those Haji copies of DVDs yeah. Which were, was stealing your IP <laugh> uh, but no, no. We watched movies, man. That, that was how we decompress and in between missions and I’ve watched more movies overseas than I, I, I do just in the confines of, of the

Dan Myrick:
United States and that’s, you know, that’s, it’s really encouraging because everyone loves movies. Oh yeah. I don’t care where you are. I mean, every country, every, every culture loves movies and, um, it’s a great communicator. It’s, it’s the one thing it’s the one medium that is more immersive than any other. And, and, uh, and so yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s again, in our, my own little humble way, being a part of that process is really cool.

Mike Sarraille:
So we end our podcast on two questions, which I think you’ll appreciate. Uh, the first one is, and I, I almost say, you know, answer these questions is if your children were sitting in the room, um, how will Dan Myrick evaluate or measure whether he’s lived a good life?

Dan Myrick:
Well, one big measure is my kids. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, you know, um, when you see your kid do something genuinely good for somebody you’re like, okay, I must have done something. Right, right. When you see real empathy in them, um, and they wanna do or help somebody without being prompted or pressure, you’re like, all right. So I’ve put another decent person into the world that that will be a productive member of society. So that’s, that’s definitely a great moment. And, you know, occasionally we’ll get like a teacher will call us or a friend of a neighbor and say, your kid’s awesome. He’s such a great kid, blah, blah, blah. I’m like, you did such a good job at parents. And you know, we’re certainly have our flaws and our mistakes, but it’s really nice to hear that occasionally that, okay. You know, I was sort of winging it, but yeah, it’s,

Mike Sarraille:
It’s there, there’s no manual for that.

Dan Myrick:
There’s no manual. So, um, so that’s a reassuring moment.

Mike Sarraille:
I think that’s a, a damn good answer. The, the next one is for you, what are those one to three? Non-negotiables those, those keys to success that have gotten you here, that you would pass on to the listeners who, who stayed and still, maybe stumbling on their path through past obstacles, trying to achieve success in, in their way. And it’s a hard one.

Dan Myrick:
It’s a hard one. Um, because a lot of it comes with making mistakes. And, but if there’s one thing I could try to convey to people is, is know what battles to pick, to fight you can’t fight ’em all right. So the smart money is on the person that knows where to put their energy in, to fight the right. It’s just like, you’re going to war, man. It’s like, you can’t fight every battle at once. Like

Mike Sarraille:
STO 1 0 1.

Dan Myrick:
Exactly. You gotta strategically plan. What’s the most, what’s the priority battles I need to win the overall game. So, um, so try to know when to hold them and when to fold them, cuz there’s some arguments you need to lose to win the bigger play. Um, and that just comes with experience. And, and I know young filmmakers will sit there and stand their ground on every little item. So all you’re doing is shooting yourself in the foot. You gotta give a little to get a little, and so try to understand that every, every argument doesn’t need to be won. It’s not a reflection on your ability. It’s not a reflection on your pride. It’s okay to compromise if it serves the gr the, the greater goal. And that’s, um, I think the one thing, piece of advice that took me a while to learn, because as a director, you’re, especially, you’re the, like the, you’re the, you’re the guy running the show. And if you show weakness and you’ve been, you’ve had those cos, right, like they’re afraid to show re weakness. There’s no way they’re really smart guys. And the elite, those elite teams they’re collaborative, or everyone said, we’re our team. Who’s got the best idea here, cuz that’s what we’re gonna go with. So that’s really what it took me a while to learn that. And I think that’s what I try to convey, but that just took experience realizing, you know, sometimes your ideas aren’t the best once <laugh>,

Mike Sarraille:
There’s so much to unpack right there. But you know, I used to say when I was younger, if somebody knew me, uh, I was the ultimate hammer. Yeah. I, I saw was nails. Yeah. And, and, and I didn’t, and, and you say weakness, I, you know, I think you actually gotta reframe, it’s not weakness. It’s just, it’s knowing when to, as you said, give in order to take later down

Dan Myrick:
The road, it really it’s maturity. It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s understanding that there’s a nuance to any operation. It’s just a lot of nuance. Um, part of what we do as filmmakers or, uh, in the special operations community is leadership is they’re leaders in this diplomacy, you have to, you’re working with human beings, whether they’re the enemy or their, your own team, you have to be able to assess what are the personality profiles you’re dealing with. Some guys are great at sending ’em out and doing this. Some guys are great for bringing them and doing that. And so having the maturity to be able to understand that about the human condition comes with, with, with wisdom, hopefully, and a little experience, but, but you don’t need to fight everybody tooth and nail and everything. Yeah. And that’s, that’s ends up hobbling you in the long run, I think. Yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
Well, Dan, I, I can’t thank you enough. Uh, I know this was a long conversation that great. We, we, of course we didn’t get to anything and we will, and I know there’s future some future podcasts in the works with what we have. And I just went on Andy stumps, uh, podcast cleared hot. We talked about the triple seven yeah. Project. Absolutely. Which we’re all invested into, uh, to right now, still working to make that happen. Yeah.

Dan Myrick:
It’s exciting stuff.

Mike Sarraille:
Yeah. According to Andy and I, uh, come higher. Hell water. Um, we’re, we’re gonna find a way to, to, to pull this off, but thank you for joining us. Good luck. Thank you. On the ride. We’ll push that. And for the listeners again, go to wounded warrior project, uh, put Dan Myrick and the search engine. His page will come in and please, please just, just make a donation, no matter how small it is. Uh, I know the wounded warrior project will put that money towards helping the, uh, the vets, uh, coming home, uh, to transition whether it’s mental health issues or helping them find, uh, employment. Dan can’t thank you enough. And for all the listeners, this is the men’s journal every day warrior podcast until next time.

 

Episode 21

Everyday Warrior Podcast Episode 21: Dave Bautista and John Kural
In episode 21 of the Men's Journal Everyday Warrior Podcast, we spoke with actor Dave Bautista and tattoo artist John Kural.
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Episode 22

Men’s Journal Everyday Warrior Podcast Episode 22: Amy Van Dyken-Rouen
Men’s Journal’s Everyday Warrior With Mike Sarraille is a new podcast that inspires individuals to live more fulfilling lives by having conversations with
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Episode 23

Men’s Journal Everyday Warrior Podcast Episode 23: Drew Brees
In episode 23, we spoke with Drew Brees, former NFL quarterback who played for 20 seasons.
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Episode 24

Men’s Journal Everyday Warrior Podcast Episode 24: Kevin Jonas
Men’s Journal’s Everyday Warrior With Mike Sarraille is a new podcast that inspires individuals to live more fulfilling lives by having conversations with
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Episode 25

Men’s Journal Everyday Warrior Podcast Episode 25: Actor David Boreanaz
Men’s Journal’s Everyday Warrior With Mike Sarraille is a new podcast that inspires individuals to live more fulfilling lives by having conversations with
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