9:00 a.m. came early on the island of Martha’s Vineyard this morning. But that didn’t stop Dave Picton and I from covering the opening ceremonies of “JawsFEST:The Tribute,” a salute to the film “Jaws,” which was filmed here in 1974.
The day began with a mob of people assembled in front of the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown, waiting for their chance to purchase their admission bracelets. As the purchases began a buzz went through the gathering as an old-style fire truck approached, transporting many of the special guests that the masses had come to see. Among those on the truck: Production Designer Joe Alves, co-screenwriter and co-star Carl Gottlieb, co-stars Jeffrey Kramer and Susan Backlinie and Hollywood make up master (and Media Mikes pal) Greg Nicotero. My day got off to a great start. A special batch of Media Mike’s t-shirts had been printed for the event and the first recipient was Wendy Benchley, whose late husband, Peter, had written the original “Jaws” novel. Several people in the crowd were Media Mikes fans and clamored for the shirts. Thanks to everyone there, especially those of you that complemented our site. Several of us with media credentials were allowed an early peek at what is sure to be one of the event’s most popular attractions, a display of memorabilia entitled “Behind the Screams.” Inside fans will be greeted with various items detailing the making of the film. I’m happy to say that several items from my own collection are prominently featured and I couldn’t be prouder. But what fans are going to fall in love with is a group of lifelike character sculptures of Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss greeting them from the transom of the ORCA. The sculptures are the work of Greg Nicotero, who had built a full size mock up of the mechanical shark’s head for the first JawsFEST in 2005. These sculptures are truly works of art and are so realistic and lifelike that many fans found themselves doing double takes.
One of the highlights of my day came when I had the opportunity to meet and chat with Ms. Virginia Shaw, whose late brother Robert played Quint in the film. I also had the chance to talk with Erik Hollander, director of the fan driven “Jaws” documentary “The Shark is Still Working,” which will finally be released next week when it is included on the upcoming “Jaws” Blu-ray DVD.
As the day went on, fans spent their time touring the exhibit, attending a book signing with Matt Taylor, Jim Beller and artist Paul McPhee, who collaborated on last year’s award winning book, “Jaws: Memories from Martha’s Vineyard.” They also took a (2) hour bus tour around the island visiting various locations where the movie was filmed. There are three more tours planned for the rest of the event. Friday’s tour will be hosted by Lou and Yana Pisano, whose “JawsFest” film series is popular among fans. I’m very proud to say that I will be hosting Sunday’s bus tour. For tickets visit www.jawstribute.com