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Jaws on Martha’s Vineyard

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Unraveling the Mysteries of Jaws on Martha's Vineyard

Do you remember those spine-tingling moments, staring at the screen as the actors screamed in terror while trying to escape a great white shark? You guessed right, it’s the classic blockbuster film "Jaws"! But have you ever wondered how the picturesque island of Martha’s Vineyard ended up becoming the iconic location for the movie? Buckle up, because we’re about to embark on a journey to uncover the mysteries of Jaws on Martha’s Vineyard.

1. The Initial Idea:

The idea of Jaws began when Peter Benchley, a struggling freelance writer, entertained some guests at his home in Nantucket with tales of shark attacks. One of his guests, Steven Spielberg, was intrigued by the concept and immediately bought the rights to the novel, turning it into a movie. During pre-production, Spielberg chose Martha’s Vineyard as the prime location for the film, and the rest is history.

2. The Filming Experience:

The Martha’s Vineyard community was thrilled to have Jaws filmed in their town. The production team leased various locations, including a farmhouse off State Road, where they set up the headquarters for the movie’s crew. Another popular spot was Menemsha Channel, where the most significant sequence of the shark attack on the Orca boat was filmed. Spielberg also used the nearby Lobsterville beach for filming the opening scene of the movie.

3. The Jaws Effect:

After "Jaws" was released in 1975, tourism on Martha’s Vineyard skyrocketed, and it’s been known as the "Jaws Island” since then. The movie helped put the island on the map, and even today, visitors flock to the iconic spots and landmarks that feature in the movie. You can visit the "Jaws Bridge" on Beach Road, where the famous scene of the shark attacking the docks was shot. Take in the stunning views at Lucy Vincent Beach, which served as the shark’s feeding ground during Jaws’ final showdown. Or better yet, get a glimpse of the famous Orca boat model at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum.

4. The Jaws Fest:

From 2005 to 2012, the "Jaws Fest" was celebrated on the island, an event that brought together fans and celebrities for a weekend of shark-themed activities, tours, and movie screenings. The festival proved to be a massive tourist draw, and even though it’s no longer organized today, the love for Jaws on Martha’s Vineyard persists.

 

The island of Martha’s Vineyard has undoubtedly left its mark on the Jaws franchise, and 48 years later, the impact of the movie still resonates with locals and visitors alike. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or an admirer of quaint island life, Jaws on Martha’s Vineyard is an authentic representation of how art can transcend time and place. So, the next time you’re in town, grab a bowl of chowder, and take a bite out of the Jaws experience. You won’t regret it!

Fun Facts About Filming Jaws on Martha’s Vineyard

  • Lee Fierro, who played Mrs. Kintner, lived on Martha’s Vineyard. Her famous slap scene took 17 takes!
  • Martha’s Vineyard was not the first choice to film Jaws. The location scout initially wanted to check out Nantucket, but a storm forced his ferry to detour to Martha’s Vineyard.
  • Robert Shaw was shot at (not on purpose) his first night on Martha’s Vineyard. A local, who thought the house was empty, shot a rifle at the front door of the house. Why? Who knows!
  • Another Martha’s Vineyard local, Craig Kingsbury, not only inspired how Robert Shaw played the character Quint, but also provided one of the biggest scares in the movie – his disembodied head pops out of the boat!
  • Quint’s shack was too tall for local zoning laws and required special permission to be built. The structure had to be torn down immediately after filming.

Discover the Jaw-dropping Filming Locations on Martha's Vineyard

Step into the real-life town of Amity at Edgartown, where the iconic Jaws movie was filmed. The charming buildings seen in the film are still standing today, thanks to Martha's Vineyard's dedication to preservation. Don't miss the chance to visit the South Water Street location of Rockland Trust, which used to be Edgartown National Bank and features an actual prop from the movie.

Immerse yourself in the Jaws experience by exploring the same streets Chief Brody walked along. And while you're at it, indulge in some souvenir shopping at the various shops in town. You'll find everything from Martha's Vineyard merchandise to Amity-themed t-shirts and sweatshirts, carrying the spirit of Jaws with you wherever you go. Make sure to check out Edgartown Hardware for a proud display of the iconic AMITY HARDWARE store sign on the ceiling!

Join Mayor Vaughn and Brody on the thrilling Chappy Ferry, just like in the Jaws ferry scene. This small ferry connects Edgartown to Chappaquiddick, and not much has changed about the look of the boats since the movie was filmed. For a different perspective, head to the top of Memorial Wharf and admire the ferries sailing by.

Visit Aquinnah, home to the beautiful Gay Head Cliffs and still inhabited by the Wampanoag tribe. This is where the scene between Hooper, Brody, and Mayor Vaughn, trying to warn him about the great white shark, was filmed. While you're there, don't miss the chance to visit the historic Gay Head Lighthouse, which offers a stunning view of the cliffs. Aquinnah and Gay Head are must-visit destinations on Martha's Vineyard.

Get ready for an adrenaline rush at the "Big Bridge," known for its role in the thrilling Jaws bridge scene. Located on Joseph Sylvia State Beach and the American Legion Memorial Bridge, this spot is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. Despite signs warning against it, jumping from the bridge into the water below has become a summer tradition on the island. Daredevils of all ages can't resist the temptation!

Uncover the peaceful side of Sengekontacket Pond, where the shark attacked the boater in the movie. In reality, it's a serene spot for swimming, kayaking, and even clamming. Kids will have a blast exploring the waters and discovering various sea creatures.

Menemsha, a quaint fishing village in Chilmark, was home to Quint's shack in the film. Although the actual shack was demolished, you can still experience the charm of the harbor, lined with small buildings and bustling fishing boats. Treat yourself to a delicious seafood meal at Homeport or grab a mouthwatering lobster roll and clam chowder to-go from Larsen's Fish Market. And don't forget to catch the breathtaking sunset from the jetty or the beach, a favorite pastime on the island.

Embark on a journey through the iconic Jaws filming locations on Martha's Vineyard and create your own unforgettable adventure!

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