Loaded with archival material, Taylor’s coffee table book captures the impact a major Hollywood production can have on the area in which it was filmed, as well as the people who live there.
There have been dozens of books about the making of Steven Spielberg’s wildly influential 1975 film Jaws, but never before has the production been so exhaustedly chronicled from the viewpoint of the outsiders—the men and women of Martha’s Vineyard whose lives were turned upside-down by the making of the movie. It’s shocking that this many black-and-white photographs of the filmmaking process were even taken during the much-chronicled production, let alone that Taylor and his team were able to track them all down and, most importantly, provide context and continuity to link them into a gorgeously produced coffee table book; much more than a mere series of pretty stills, Taylor’s work ambitiously offers what amounts to a nearly scene-by-scene accounting of the making of one of history’s most-beloved films. The volume is so impressive that Spielberg himself penned the foreword, in which he seems truly grateful for the anecdotal history provided by Taylor. Divided into six chapters that cover events from the pre-production in the winter of 1973 to the film’s release on June 20th, 1975, the book intercuts archival material, such as newspaper clippings from the era and hundreds of never-before-seen photos taken by local bystanders, with interviews from both sides of the production—the locals and the filmmakers. The result is a remarkable collection of viewpoints that chronicles how a film can impact a locale, from the men and women cast as extras to the mailman derailed by street closures. It’s a wonderfully diverse array of interview subjects, not merely focusing on the people credited at the end of the film.
Taylor has taken his love for a specific film and turned it into something greater—a beautiful compendium of not just memorabilia, but commentary on the importance of community in the art of filmmaking.