When Steven Spielberg was tasked with the seemingly impossible mission of creating a movie about a 25-foot great white shark, he called a meeting to figure out how to make it happen. The production team searched for a special effects expert who could help them do the unprecedented, and eventually found Bob Mattey, who had been responsible for the giant squid in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
The Jaws circus descended on Martha’s Vineyard in May of 1974 with a budget of $3.5 million and 55 days of filming. Spielberg cast Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, and Richard Dreyfuss as the main characters and named the mechanical shark “Bruce” after his lawyer.
Unfortunately, Bruce was temperamental and unreliable, and the crew began writing the shark out of scenes. Spielberg was forced to get creative and draw inspiration from Alfred Hitchcock’s movies to create suspense without the shark.
The shoot lasted 159 days, during which time Spielberg experienced cabin fever and heard rumors that the crew was planning to throw him overboard after the last shot. The director was exhausted, but he managed to make it through and created one of the most iconic films of all time.