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Notable participants: Steven Spielberg, Mother Nature, malfunctioning mechanical sharks
What happened: Spielberg - not yet 30 years old at the time of shooting - stubbornly insisted on an open-water shoot for his second theatrical feature, a near-disastrous decision that could well have resulted in the end of his career had the film not proven to be such a massive box-office success. Indeed, the unpredictability of shooting at sea led to frequent delays, with errant sailboats constantly drifting into frame, actors getting seasick and cameras being damaged by salt water. Not to mention, the film's three full-size mechanical sharks fared badly in the ocean environment, leading them to perpetually malfunction (the crew's nickname for the film during principal photography? "Flaws"). Ironically, the laundry list of disasters suffered by the production (the film went over budget by several million dollars and over schedule by more than 100 days) likely resulted in a better film, as they forced Spielberg to keep the mechanical sharks largely off-screen, creating the "less-is-more" Hitchcockian aesthetic that ultimately made the film such an enduring horror classic.
- Chris Eggertsen