sharks are awesome, beautiful, mysterious, intriguing, powerful, usually graceful creatures of the deep and should be more loved by humans [inspired by the hilarious 'fuck you shark you are drunk' graphic]
Three mechanical sharks were used during the filming of Jaws. Two were dubbed platform sharks, because they were perched on a crane set on a platform 30 ft. (9m) underwater. Connected to a nearby barge by pneumatic hoses that allowed the sharks to rise, advance on the surface of the water and then dive, the contraption encountered problems almost immediately. “We barely got started when the salt water permeated the platform and the different metals reacted with each other, which caused electrolysis,” said Lynne Murphy, who worked on special effects. “When the platform came out of the water to be tested and adjusted, the combination of the air and the salt corroded the hell out of it. It was a goddamn mess.”
Special-effects operative Cal Acord sits inside Bruce (the nickname given to the troublesome mechanical sharks; it was the first name of Spielberg’s lawyer at the time) on the rear of the Orca. “Part of the scene where Quint is eaten included close-ups of the shark on the back of the boat, just biting and snapping,” says Chris Crawford, the ship’s actual captain. “On what was probably the last take of the day, the shark’s jaws clamped down around the remnants of the breakaway transom, and as it slid off the back, it pulled the boat farther into the water than it was meant to go. They had three cameras running to cover all the angles and every one of them went into the drink — along with all the film they had shot that day. You could just see the despondency on everyone’s face.” Luckily, Panavision in New York was able to save the footage.
This tiger shark, shipped from Florida and hoisted up on a dock for one scene, went bad quickly. “Like any rotten fish times 800 lb. [360 kg], it really reeked,” said screenwriter Carl Gottlieb. “If you look closely at the faces of the crowd in that scene, you can see people struggling not to gag. It was horrible. The decomposition was not just internal. The shark had to have makeup applied to cover its decaying face. It was like a zombie movie.” In this photo, a makeup artist moistens the shark’s quickly drying skin.
Two of the film’s three mechanical sharks had open bellies, one on the left and one on the right, depending on which direction they were traveling while being filmed. “When the shark is complete you can’t get it underwater quickly because of the air pocket,” said Bob Mattey in a 1974 interview with a local paper. “So we had to leave one side open.”
Special-effects man Bob Mattey made all three of the mechanical sharks used for the film. Having worked for Disney for almost two decades prior to his work on Jaws (including doing 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea), Mattey said that the shark job was one of the hardest he had ever done. In this photo, he steers a boat while someone else touches up the shark.
Locals were paid to participate in the scene where panicked beachgoers rush out of the ocean. “I can remember being afraid of getting trampled,” said Lydia Mello, an extra. “People were tripping and falling all around. Some were only acting, others weren’t. It was pretty intense.” Above, Dwight Francis of Edgartown, volunteered for a dramatic close-up.
The death of Quint was the last scenes actor Robert Shaw filmed before heading back home to Ireland. The troubled 1974 shoot had gone on for longer than expected, recalls Susan Murphy. “When most of us signed on, we were told shooting might cover over a bit into July, but I don’t think anybody expected we’d still be shooting in September,” she says. “I can remember looking down at Robert, kicking and screaming and thrashing around on the deck, and thinking, ‘Oh, God, please just make this movie end.’ We were all so sick of it.”
For the scene in which a group of bounty hunters hoist up the wrong shark on an Amity Island dock, filmmakers got a group of fishermen in Florida to catch and kill a 13-ft. (4 m) tiger shark. The shark was put on ice and shipped up to Martha’s Vineyard via chartered FedEx plane. “Waiting teamsters raced the shark’s makeshift coffin to the walk-in refrigeration unit and Norton & Easterbrook’s dock,” writes author Matt Taylor. “The following morning, the beast was suspended by its tail and ‘wounded’ by an almost farcical battery of harpoons, knives, and guns.”
Here, Steven Spielberg directs while standing on a jetty. “To a lot of people on the crew, Steven was considered the new kid on the block,” says Susan Murphy who, along with her husband Lynn, ran special effects on the film’s mechanical sharks. “Steven was perhaps the youngest person on the entire shooting company and was everybody’s boss. So anytime something undesirable happened on set, you’d hear things about Steven being too young and inexperienced. When Jaws became the biggest movie of all time a year later, I’m sure there were an awful lot of people eating their words.”