To celebrate the August 14th Blu-ray release of Steven Spielberg’s horror classic, ‘JAWS’, Universal invited High-Def Digest to the Universal Studios backlot in Burbank, California to chat with the film’s co-writer and production designer, the producer of a Blu-ray exclusive documentary, and a Universal executive who oversaw the film’s 35mm restoration alongside Steven Spielberg himself.
HDD: I’ve been reading about ‘The Shark is Still Working’ for many years. It was a pleasure to finally see it. How exciting is it for you, setting out to make a “fan documentary”, to have it be an exclusive special feature on the 2012 ‘JAWS’ Blu-ray Disc?
J. MICHAEL RODDY: When the producers and I set out to make this documentary, we wanted to make the ultimate fan documentary. That’s why we did it. We wanted it to be for the fans, from the fans. And, you know, it’s interesting that’s become its own genre now. We really kinda started that ball rolling and it took a long time to get here [7 years!]. The road here had many potholes like the original ‘JAWS’, which took a long time to get to the theatre after many trials and tribulations. We are so absolutely thrilled to now be a part of the Blu-ray and it now gives us, a small part in our minds, we’re part of the ‘JAWS’ mythology.
HDD: Take us back to the beginning. How did you guys go from fans to documentary filmmakers?
JMR: It’s interesting. We were all inspired by ‘JAWS’. It was our favorite film. And we were in different areas of the country, working in different aspects of production. We had the opportunity to interview some of the locals on Martha’s Vineyard and realized there were really compelling stories we had never heard before. So as we started to capture that, we realized no one was really talking about the impact. We all know the shark didn’t work, but the reason we named our documentary ‘The Shark is Still Working’ is because the shark not working then means the shark still works 35 years later. So as we really started to define what that could be, the impact, and talking about the legacy of the film, we realized there were so many people positively influenced by this film: shark researchers, conservationists and, most importantly, some of our most amazing filmmakers working today — Brian Singer, Robert Rodriguez, Stephen Soderbergh, Kevin Smith. They all cited ‘JAWS’ as the film that made them do what they do. And we said, that’s a great story, and everything else fell into place.
Read the rest of this interview as well as interviews with JAWS screenwriter Carl Gottlieb and production designer Joe Alves here: