Thursday, May 29, 2014

First, You Fight the Shark

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You can't have Indiana Jones, E.T., or Jurassic Park without first fighting the shark.

Roy Scheider and Steven Spielberg

Universal's first directorial pick referred to the shark as a whale a la Moby Dick. So, they let a 27-year-old director take over this "good B-movie" titled Jaws. Excited and naive, he took his crew to Martha's Vineyard and the Atlantic Ocean. Steven Spielberg rued his own decision.

What ensued was a disastrous production to rival that of Tommy Wiseau's The Room.

Robert Shaw and Bruce the Shark

For one long summer, the same message echoed via production's intercom system.

Static. "The shark is not working." Static. "The shark is not working."

The ten man crew on a man-made island, jokingly dubbed U.S.S. Garage Sale, scrambled to fix their flopping machination -- hourly. The Orca began sinking with the actors and sound department onboard. The crew fought the Atlantic daily and rewrote the script nightly. Filming went from wrapping in May to late August.

Spielberg recalls attending a party where an actress shared how no one in Hollywood wanted to even touch him after he finished this movie. The news left him ill and fleeing the party.

Filming the final showdown

In the making-of documentary I watched, Jaws author Peter Benchley explain how fascination led to preparedness then to survival. He meant our fascinations with our fears, but this also extends to our ambitions and dreams.

Making movies, starting a business, publishing novels -- it's your dream, but it's a fight to the very end. Spielberg needed to see if he could survive the greatness of his dream. We know what would have been lost had he ran away from this.

"I watched a boy become a man...he was threatened with firing -- everyday. There were people second-guessing him at all times. He never gave in to the stress -- except when he bit his nails." - Dreyfuss, our Matt Hooper with the city hands, "counting money all his life."

It was incredible naivete and an unimaginable outcome.

I've been saying Spielberg, but I mean everyone. What we unknowingly lose when someone gives up on some great dream has been in my head since realizing how close we came to never saving the alien in E.T. or visiting Neverland in Hook.

 I listened to the crew's retelling of production, and the reality of creative passions struck me. Your love for what you pursue must be so great that you learn grit and discipline. It's about sacrificing and reaching.

In that way, you become a miracle.

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