For many, “Jaws” is the ultimate summer movie: Released in June of 1975, it was the first big summer blockbuster, earned a fortune ($260 million, an astonishing number in the pre-”Star Wars” era), and made an entire generation afraid to go in the water. The New York Times today has a nice piece about Jamie Benning, who runs the website filmumentaries.com and has just released “Inside Jaws,” a two-and-a-half hour commentary/inside peek at the film, narrated by himself and filled with tidbits and rare footage. The NYT asked him how he got the material:
After I finished “Raiding the Lost Ark,” James Beller, who runs JawsCollector.com, got in contact with me and said please can you make one on “Jaws”? He basically sent me a list of what books I should read, what magazines I should read, and I went about trawling through all of this, picking out things that wouldn’t be a repetition of what we’ve heard on official documentaries and what’s on the documentary “The Shark Is Still Working.” And I ended up creating something that was about the local people rather than just the main players. We’ve all heard their stories before but what we haven’t heard is the stories of those people who fly by on the credits or weren’t on the credits.
So I got in contact with extras, with a laborer named Kevin Pike, who ended up having quite an illustrious career in film, working on “Return of the Jedi” and “Back to the Future,” building the DeLorean. And I spoke to a guy who snuck onto the set and ended up with a little part as an extra. In “Jaws,” if they wanted a doctor, they cast a local doctor, and that was an angle I’d never really seen exploited. We’d all heard about the shark not working and whilst I included some of that I also wanted to get this flip side from the local people involved.
I only watched the first few minutes, but I’m guessing “Inside Jaws” — which took Benning 16 months to make — is great fun for a fan. You can watch it on Benning’s site, here.