The Jaws Log (expanded edition), by Carl Gottlieb

My Copy: 9780062229281 (image from goodreads.com)

I actually finished this book a few days ago, but I was stewing about how you can think of it. Jaws has been my fave movie for ages, so to read a book about the background of the movie? Why the hell not?!

Well, this book doesn’t have as broad of an audience as one might think, especially when you consider all the interviews and making-of documentaries that have cropped up the past 40+ years that already give a ton of information about it. But, the book does have it’s uses.

The Jaws Log is written by the man who played the newspaper reporter in the movie. He was also a scriptwriter, so he was there for most of the changes, rewrite discussions and behind the scenes drama. It’s not a thick read at all, but it does give some info you don’t hear about much: the role of the producers and prop-makers and how shooting schedules work. Not a how-to by any means, but it’s a neat insight into how such a crazy, over-budget film idea came to light and managed to become a fantastic success.

This is a book that a lot of early filmmakers have read to learn more about the business of filmmaking. The book essentially stops at the moment the film first hits theaters and gets very positive reviews. It’s not a book that’s about the history of the film’s impact in popular culture or anything like that. The myriad of awesome making-of docs take care of that. This is about Mr. Gottlieb being in the moment, in the thick of things, and giving a little insight into the things that tend not to make it in the docs.

The Jaws Log has mixed reviews out there, and I can see why. It’s got a niche audience, and not even necessarily for the uber-Jaws fans. It’s more for those interested in the background and the business. In my head, I kept going back to info in the many docs I’d watched, wondering how much of the info was gonna be in the pages, too. There’s quite a bit of overlap, but again, it’s more focused on the deep background with some interesting stories about the actors and crew (and the frustrations, near-munities, etc.).

If you’re a wannabe filmmaker, or currently are one and want to crack open a time-capsule into a time of incredible exploration in Hollywood filmmaking, then go for it. Probably a good resource to remind you of how complex things are in the daily slog of filmmaking. Otherwise, you might have some bored moments unless you’re an insane Jaws fan (like me).

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