Where did all the pictures come from?
The original batch of photos which was collected by Jim Beller throughout 2005 on the island, and came from Jackie Baer, Edith Blake and Carol Fligor. Joe Alves, the production designer, also kicked in a lot of great photos then, too. Once I came on, I basically scoured the island from one end to the other, talking to each and every person I knew who had been a participant of the production in one way or another.
Almost all of them had photos and other assorted keepsakes, which were scanned and worked into the book. I also eventually doubled back around to the original group of participants and found MORE photos that they had not yet located when Jim had originally visited them in 2005. All of them had great stories, too, which are obviously a huge part of the book.
Why is Jaws such a special film?
I think it was just a combination of the right actors, the right location, a perfect musical score, and one of the most brilliant directorial performances of all time. There’s no way we’d have the same movie if another director had been hired for that picture. My personal feelings are that if anyone other than Steven Spielberg had held the reins, they’d maybe have wound up with an okay film—maybe even a good one.
Spielberg, however, just had the perfect sense of how to make this material work, and despite the daily grumbling of cast and crew because things out on the water just weren’t going right, and everybody wanted to just get the shots in the can and go home, he stuck to his guns and insisted the shark look and move a certain way on camera, and refused to shoot when it didn’t, and refused to shoot when the little white dot of a sailboat appeared on the horizon, and just instinctively knew better than anyone else when something worked or didn’t.
Directing a film like Jaws is all about timing and rhythm, and knowing when to go full-bore, and when to ease up in order to maximize the effect on the audience, and Steven Spielberg just had an innate, natural-born sense of how to tell that story and make his audience feel all the things he wanted them to.
What surprised you most while putting the book together?
The thing that mostly comes to mind is that, back in the summer of 2008, I had done several interviews with Lynn and Susan Murphy (Lynn was/is a master marine mechanic with a legendary short fuse from the Vineyard who was hired by the production to work on the sharks and keep the boats in working order throughput shooting on the ocean) and several interviews into the process, I began suspecting that maybe Robert Shaw’s portrayal of Quint was based more on Lynn and his mannerisms than any of the people Shaw is reported to have been influenced by when playing Quint—like Craig Kingsbury, who was a Vineyard farmer and fisherman who was paired up with Shaw when the actor first got to the island.
Steven Spielberg met Craig and saw to it that his colorful use of the English language was worked into the dialogue of Quint. They even fashioned Quint’s appearance after Craig.