“Jaws” director Steven Spielberg had a harder time keeping extras on set than fighting the shark

Jaws Director Steven Spielberg notoriously battled the shaking mechanical shark during the film, but a behind-the-scenes book revealed that the failing shark wasn’t his biggest problem.

The film was filled with extras. Mostly people who lived on Tony Island in Martha’s Vineyard where the movie was made. Many extras were thrilled to be part of what has become a groundbreaking historic horror film. But many of them weren’t so excited about showing up day in and day out for just $ 2.50 an hour.

In fact, a number of people would show up for a scene one day. But then they wouldn’t come back for more hits. “Other than the thrill of maybe being seen on the big screen, there wasn’t much incentive for people over eighteen to stay in the cold all day, even at 2.50 $ per hour, “Andy Fligor added. shared in the book “Jaws: Memories from Martha’s Vineyard,” shared Martha’s Vineyard Magazine.

Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss on the set of Jaws, 1975. | Photo by Universal Pictures / Getty Images

“One day a modest couple were placed about thirty feet from where [Steven] Spielberg was leading, close to the water, ”Fligor continued. “When we came back the next day, the assistant directors said, ‘Okay, everyone remembers your locations. When all the extras were seated, Spielberg looked around, then pointed to a spot on the sand and said, “Where is the couple that was sitting here?” It happened quite a bit and it was a real problem of continuity. This forced them to step back further into the scene because they had to restart the shots. “

The shark ‘Jaws’ wasn’t the biggest problem

Production designer Joe Alves recalled that at least the team had some control over how they handled the shark. “At least when the mechanical sharks had problems we could troubleshoot and knew that with just a little more work, [Special Effects Supervisor] Bob [Mattey] could probably solve whatever the problem is, ”he recalls.

“But when that bad weather started to hit the beach, there was little nobody could do except play with different types of filters and lights to brighten up the shots,” Alves said. “A lot of times, however, the weather was too gloomy to even do that. “

The missing extras weren’t the only problem Spielberg faced. Some overzealous extras wanted to be stars. “During one of the panic shots, everyone came out of the water as they were supposed to, except one woman,” said Will Pfluger, a Vineyard resident. “She was just an extra but stayed inside and started posing in all kinds of dramatic positions, waving her arms, screaming and struggling all around. It was dramatic to say the least. Finally, one of the directors spoke into a megaphone and said, “Ma’am, it won’t be necessary. Please get out of the water. The whole beach was hysterical.

RELATED: Was ‘Jaws’ Filmed on July 4th?

Another problem was the freezing water. Jaws took place during the summer. But it was filmed in early spring, long before it got hot enough to set foot in the waves. “It was so cold on this beach that the actors and the crew were passing brandy shots in small paper cups just to warm up,” explained Julie Flanders. “The extras got into it too. Everyone’s lips were blue and chatty.

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