Sound and Image


The first challenge involved getting up in the morning, and the second one was working on the ocean with mechanical effects that really should’ve been done on dry land,” admits the 30-year-old Steven Spielberg, already one of Hollywood’s hottest young directors as he meets with the press to discuss his shark movie which birthed the descriptor ‘blockbuster’. “Had we shot this movie on dry land it would’ve still been difficult, but we were taking all this apparatus and we were putting it out in the ocean; not in a tank, but in the real ocean. We were trying to control the elements, but four weeks into production we discovered we could not control the elements. It was like working in an earthquake. For eight hours a day, the ship was being tossed around. You’re slipping and sliding, and the effects aren’t working. The tides are pulling the boats apart and the anchors are ripping up the sand 30 feet below. It was probably the toughest movie I’ll ever make, or ever really want to make.

Is it true that you threatened to quit the project?

I threatened to quit three times. Not because of the circumstances, the weather or the mechanical effects — but because there were things in the movie that I really wanted to do. For instance, I was ready to and the original — with all the great sea footage — have all passed away. All the great masters of miniature and matte work and glass work and special effects have all moved on. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to make miniature effects like that look convincing today, and I felt that I would lose a lot of credibility if I took this movie and made it in a controlled environment. I wanted to go out into the high seas to shoot the picture. That was one instance where I had to fight for what I wanted.

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