From the May 31, 1974 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

The movie production of Jaws continues to roam the Island in much the same manner as a touring medicine show, playing in each of the Island’s towns.

The early part of last week’s filming was done in the Zinn house on East Chop (supposed to be Chief Brody’s house) where the entire entourage of trucks encamped for several days. The usual hive of congestion was enhanced by a house which seemed to prowl the streets with human intelligence. It followed wherever the movie crew went, and sidewalk superintendents supposed it was part of the production, and even several persons connected with the movie thought the same. But it was just the Sherman boathouse being moved (in traditional Island manner) to a new location and blocking traffic as only a house-moving can. The best laid plans of Jaws were hampered by the house, which finally settled in an empty lot right in front of the Zinn house. No doubt the Californians were a bit surprised since this may have been their first experience with the maneuverability of Island houses.

By the latter part of the week the trucks and police had moved to W. Douglas Prizer’s Seascape at Harthaven. These police get a little confusing (especially in Edgartown) because at each site the town police are on hand to handle the spectators and there are seemingly endless police in the cast wearing uniforms identical to those of the Edgartown police. One intent on some misdemeanor must peer around the officer searching for his shoulder patch which either reads Edgartown (for real) or Amity (for fake).

Shooting at Harthaven was impeded by two confusing names, Ed Chalmers and Bob Chambers, who ship in by rowboat in the dark of night and attempt to hook the shark. Instead, the shark makes off with most of the dock, dumping the men in the drink. Thereafter the dock shows a tendency to follow Chambers or Chalmers ­— whoever it was — as he swims to shore.

Filming was done from the dock (pre-shark) which was built for the occasion and from the City of Chappaquiddick. Communications from boat to boat, person to person, ship to shore and H.Q. in Edgartown by walky-talkies was interspersed by megaphone.

Lynn C. Murphy’s boat has been recruited and rerigged so it can operate cables attached to rafts, docks, sharks, and, of all things, auxiliary fins. Occasionally these cables tend (as do all marine cables) to get wrapped around the propellers, wrapping up production for vague periods of time.

Only a photographer would understand why lights are needed in the blinding sun, but needed they are, and since much of the filming was in the water so were the lights. Electricians, and special effects men encased in wet suits spent most of the three days up to their necks in water, along with the electric cables. One slip on the slippery bottom at the wrong moment, and, what with salt water being such an excellent conductor, the spectacle would have improved.

The next site was Menemsha Basin where Quint, the fisherman, played by Robert Shaw, is supposed to dwell, dissect whales or sharks, and dock his strange craft.

For this, a building (by far the largest, except for the Coast Guard station) was designed and constructed. Complete with a red tower borrowed from the Old Sculpin Gallery, it looks a good deal older and more appropriate than some of the other stuff around the waterfront.

Quint lives in his own private slum area surrounded by a magnificent gun collection (borrowed from Islanders) and an impressive array of teeth (in jaws) brought from California (thank God). His boat, with its quaint Quintisms, resembles something that should be 20,000 leagues under the sea, and which after construction was carefully painted with dirt.

Shooting continued for several days with the verandas, porches and nearby hills usurped as peanut galleries by the ever-gaping populace and when filming was held up, Quint’s quarters were toured like a World’s Fair pavilion.

The Jaws side of the coin thinks highly of Islanders, feeling they are the nicest ever dealt with, impressed with the serious attitude of the extras.

The Island side of the coin is delighted to have some excitement (it was a long dull winter), enchanted with something new to talk about, and utterly fascinated with how it is all being done.

Rumors keep flying, some are scheduled to happen, but don’t, while others that aren’t do. Vineyard Haven was anxiously awaiting its day in the sun, but that has been changed, and Edgartown will be used instead. It is being told that the building at Menemsha (which must be dismantled) has been sold, but it hasn’t (the roof leaks), that mechanical sharks have been stashed under hay stacks, and live sharks by the score are kept handy. From the outsiders point of view, the plot in no way resembles the book, so one suspects that a good deal of writing happens at night in smoke-filled rooms.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox