Rare, Behind-the-Scenes Photos from the Making of ‘Jaws’

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Titan Books is known for their attractive, film-savvy titles, which is why it’s exciting news that the publisher has released an expanded second edition of Jaws: Memories from Martha’s Vineyard . The release is perfectly timed to Universal’s 100th anniversary Blu-ray that hit stores last month. Fans of the 1975 film — about a massive great white shark who terrorizes beachgoers on a resort island — should be thrilled for more rare, never-before-seen artwork, previously untold stories, and more in Titan’s new, extended edition. Readers are treated to sixteen additional pages of rarities, including additional storyboards from Production Designer Joe Alves, more behind-the-scenes photographs from the private collections of local crew members, and other great content from the making of the groundbreaking film. Hollywood’s first blockbuster, Jaws was filmed on Martha’s Vineyard where hundreds of locals were hired to work as actors and laborers. Amongst the Islanders were professional and amateur photographers who captured the production’s inner operation on a daily basis. Every stage of the film has been chronicled, and the exhaustive collection is a must-have for movie buffs. Read more past the break, and catch a preview of the book before it publishes on September 25.

Filming Jaws as a long, overwhelming, and elaborate process. Scenic Martha’s Vineyard captured the look and spirit of fictional Amity Island — as portrayed in Peter Benchley’s 1974 bestselling novel — and it was crucial for the perfectionist director not to shoot in a tank or mock ocean. He wanted the open water, and the ocean was only 30-35 feet deep about 12 miles from shore, which made it easier for Spielberg to steady his prop sharks on the sandy floor. However, with real seawater came uncontrollable tide conditions — not to mention the technical difficulties Spielberg faced with Bruce the Shark who was mechanical, but definitely functioned like he had a mind of his own. Thankfully Spielberg stuck to his guns, despite fears that the rising budget and troubled shoot would make the production a complete washout. Actors Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw helped bring the film to life, but Jaws: Memories from Martha’s Vineyard shines a spotlight on the many behind-the-scenes people from the island who also had a starring role in Spielberg’s first major motion picture breakthrough.

© 1974 Cal Acord/Courtesy of Moonrise Media

“For dramatic effect, bubbles are created around the platform shark.”

Three versions of Bruce the pneumatic prop shark — named after Spielberg’s lawyer — were constructed. One was a full-body prop that was towed with a 300-foot umbilical cable, and the other two were “platform sharks” that were attached to a 12-ton steel platform that sat on the ocean floor. Thirteen technicians in scuba gear operated controls for the animatronic monster. Art director Joe Alves designed Bruce, and mechanical effects wizard Robert Mattey headed the construction. Lynn Murphy is a Vineyard marine mechanic who helped Spielberg run the special effects in the water. He’s one of the bubble maestros pictured here, gunning the boat’s engine.

© 1974 Cal Acord/Courtesy of Moonrise Media

“Scheider battles the shark.”

This scene required shots from a number of angles, and not all of them included Bruce. This meant Roy Scheider was stabbing at the shark when he didn’t have to and further damaging the already precarious model. Alves swapped the prop with some Styrofoam so Bruce could stay intact.

© 1974 Edith Blake/Courtesy of Moonrise Media

“Richie Helmer touches up the shark.”

Boat operator Charlie Blair confirmed to author Matt Taylor that Bruce’s upkeep was basically a 24-hour job. Bruce’s technical snafus were one of the main reasons for the film’s drastic delays and overwhelming budget.

© 1974 Edith Blake/Courtesy of Moonrise Media

“Shark mauls Ted Grossman.”

Ted Grossman was a professional stuntman who coordinated Jaws’ death-defying scenes. He’s credited as “estuary victim,” since he’s the guy whose leg was torn off and seen sinking in the lagoon. Grossman’s other glamorous duties included fetching a dead, 900-pound shark for filming.

© 1974 Edith Blake/Courtesy of Moonrise Media

This is a great shot of one of the platform sharks.

© 1974 Jackie Baer/Courtesy of Moonrise Media

“Panicking on State Beach.”

Alves and Spielberg avoided using the color red throughout the film as much as possible, since they wanted the bloody attack scenes to stand out and be a bigger shock for audiences. It worked — especially during this scene, which was shot with blood still in the water. Lee Fierro played the mother of the boy on the raft who gets devoured. She told author Matt Taylor, “They filmed the attack shots the same day they filmed the parents running down to the edge of the water, so that there would actually be blood floating around as everybody gathered their children.” The Vineyard’s tourist season was set to kick off near the end of filming, so getting the crowd scenes shot in time was crucial.

© 1974 Joe Alves/Courtesy of Moonrise Media

“Clay model sculpted by Joe Alves.”

These clay models of Bruce were the template for Mattey’s mechanical construction. Alves explained to Taylor:

“We had to decide how big the shark was going to be, so I started by drawing a 20-foot shark, then a 30-foot shark. The 30-foot shark seemed too big, and the 20-foot shark seemed too small. I had originally wanted to make the proportions of a twelve-and-a-half footer, then double the size. That’s how I wound up with 25 feet, which was credible.”

© 1974 Joe Alves/Courtesy of Moonrise Media

“Inside Bob Mattey’s machine shop.”

Several sharks’ jaws were loaned to the crew by San Francisco’s Steinhart Aquarium. They were essential in creating realistic and terrifying details.

© 1974 Joe Alves/Courtesy of Moonrise Media

“A plywood armature of the shark’s exterior is crafted.”

A plywood armature of the shark’s exterior was crafted to help support the beast’s shape. It was covered with expanded metal and screen wire to secure the clay that fiberglass was eventually sprayed onto in order to create a mold. Later, the shark was bisected to remove the plywood frame.

© 1974 Joe Alves/Courtesy of Moonrise Media

“A plywood armature of the shark’s exterior is crafted.”

© 1974 Cal Acord/Courtesy of Moonrise Media

Bruce taking shape.