ON SET: MAKING JAWS

HOLLYWOOD – I remember when Stevie Spielberg first came into my office with his script. It was called Amity then. I read it as he played pin ball, whooping and hollering and full of energy and vim. 

‘Well?’ he asks.
‘I like it,’ I tell him. ‘The peaceful seaside community, the cop from New York, kids Karate chopping fences. It’s great. But I got one word for you: Shark!’
His eyes lit up. I gave him a novel I’d read, Godawful piece of trash but there was a shark in it: Jaws by Peter Benchley, who I knew because of his father. A week later back comes Stevie, script rewritten. He shoots some hoops in the yard while I read. The cop’s son befriends the lonely shark and they have adventures. ‘You didn’t read the book, did you?’

He shakes his head. ‘I looked at the cover, briefly,’ he admits.
‘Okay,’ I tell him. ‘We need a severed head, a bitten off leg and a great score by Henry Mancini.’
Well, two out of three ain’t bad. 

(This extract was taken from the forthcoming book Lunches with Assholes: How Films Get Made due out for Xmas