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

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.

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