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The Bizarre Way Heather Donahue Was Paid For The Blair Witch Project

In 1999, "The Blair Witch Project" accomplished something that would likely not work too well in the modern world thanks to the widespread use of social media. When three actors went into the woods and filmed a movie, the entire world thought they had died during production when the footage was "released" as "The Blair Witch Project." The film was apparently so convincing, it was considered a legitimate documentary at the time, and Heather Donahue was believed to be dead.

As a working actress in Los Angeles, this proved to be detrimental to Donahue's career. Her role in "The Blair Witch Project" affected her traumatically even up until the release of the sequel in 2016. As Donahue confessed in an article she wrote for The Guardian, she had an emotional reaction to the new film. Donahue's supposed death was not the only odd thing about the original film's release. According to Rolling Stone, Donahue and her fellow actors were treated to aggressive filmmaking tactics, including the filmmakers shaking their tents loudly in the middle of the night and leaving notes meant to cause friction between the actors. And if that weren't enough, Donahue also revealed the strange truth behind how she was paid.

Fruit baskets don't pay the bills

As a 24 year old actress, Donahue could not spin a career out of being dead. In the aforementioned article she wrote for The Guardian, Donahue recalled being noted as dead on IMDb as a marketing tactic for "The Blair Witch Project." After she admitted she was alive in an interview with her hometown newspaper, Donahue revealed that she was reprimanded — though she hadn't even received compensation at that point. "I wanted to say, 'Well, are you sending me money?' But I was a 24-year-old actor so I said sorry," Donahue explained. "The next week I received a fruit basket. The crap kind with pears and water crackers and mostly packaging."

As noted by Entertainment Weekly, "The Blair Witch Project" made far more than its budget, reaping the rewards from an actress that couldn't work — and as a thanks for her silence, Donahue received a fruit basket. The ending of the "The Blair Witch Project" has caused the film to become a cult phenomenon, and is often used as a basis for copycat found-footage films. Despite the harsh treatment, Donahue's legacy remains as being in one of the most terrifying horror films of all time.