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Spielberg Insisted On Shooting JAWS On the Ocean. It Almost Ended His Career.

Spielberg insisted on shooting the film on the ocean, instead of using tanks of water on the studio lot. It almost destroyed his career.

Steven Spielberg struggles to shoot JAWS on the open ocean in 1974.

"It has to look real," Steven Spielberg told Universal producers Dick Zanuck and David Brown in BLOCKBUSTER, available now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all other podcast platforms.

For Spielberg, authenticity was always crucial.

He'd seen movies about sea beasts before. This was the 1970s. That kind of thing just wouldn't cut it anymore.

Brown and Zanuck eventually agreed to allow Spielberg to shoot on Martha's Vineyard, an affluent beach island south of Massachusetts.

Unfortunately for Spielberg, there was a reason no director had shot a feature film of this scale on the ocean before. His 55 day shoot quickly stretched into more than triple that, and the crew were tired, sunburnt and seasick.

In addition, equipment wasn't working. The water frequently splashed equipment, causing delays or worse, and other equipment — including the three mechanical sharks he'd insisted on having built — wouldn't work either.

On some days, the crew couldn't finish a single shot. Things were spiraling out of control.

Spielberg knew he could finish the film with enough time, but he wasn't sure he'd get it from Brown and Zanuck.

And studios wouldn't ever let this happen again. He was certain he'd never direct another film. Certainly not one with this kind of budget.

His blockbuster dreams were over, as far as he was concerned.

Luckily, his composer would have a suggestion to help "fix" the film — a unique musical theme that would change the course of film history and film evolution.

The creative relationship and long-running friendship between Spielberg, Lucas and Williams is explored in detail in BLOCKBUSTER. Subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, as well as Spotify and all other podcast platforms.

BLOCKBUSTER has been painstakingly researched, compiled and referenced from thousands of sources, and details many of the events that led to the creation of JAWS, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, and STAR WARS — and the very idea of "the blockbuster" film.

It's a story too incredible not to be told, with the richest, most immersive sound design ever created.

Put on your headphones, close your eyes, and enjoy.

This is a sonic experience that invites you into the offices, film sets and homes of the most influential dreamers, rebels and world builders in Hollywood film history. You won't just be listening; you'll feel like you're there.


It's free to listen. But please consider a donation!

We've made the decision to release Blockbuster for free and without ads interrupting the story. But this production did take about $80,000 to produce from start to finish, so if you enjoy the experience, please consider giving $10, and you'll earn some cool bonus perks in the process!

You can subscribe now at Apple Podcasts for weekly episodes, as well as Spotify and all other podcast platforms.


Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@Blockbuster_Pod), and Instagram @BlockbusterPod, and the show's creator Matt Schrader on Twitter (@mattschrader).



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