By today’s standards, “Jaws” was an indie film.

Last night, I went to Meltdown Comics to see “Jaws” screenwriter Carl Gottlieb and “Jaws” super fan Paul F. Tompkins discuss the film at the Nerdist Writers Panel, hosted by Thrilling Adventure Hour co-creator/TV writer Ben Blacker.

Aside from great stories about the film’s troubled production and Carl’s creative collaboration with director Steven Spielberg, the discussion gets into imbuing the characters in the movie with humanity, and making them feel like real people. When you think about it, not that much really happens in “Jaws”. A few people get killed by a rogue shark, then three guys go out on a boat to try to kill the killer. The rest of the movie is really dependent upon those three guys as characters (Brody, Hooper, and Quint).

That was the recipe for what most critics and historians call the first true Hollywood Summer Blockbuster?!

You barely ever see the shark!

By today’s standards, you might see that movie at Sundance, if it got in. “The Man Of Steel“, “The Avengers” and a slew of other big summer movies have blown up a large portion of Manhattan in the last few years, and that is apparently what is required to be a tentpole movie now. But in “Jaws”, a few people get eaten in a small, coastal town – no devastation of Manhattan or any other major city necessary.

Coincidentally, when I got home from the Panel, I spoke to a writer friend and he mentioned a piece on “Jaws” he just read in the New York Times. Called “Stop Blaming ‘Jaws‘”, the piece is by Heather Havrilesky, it is a very funny and sharp critique of summer blockbusters today, and goes on to argue that “Jaws” didn’t ruin summer movies at all, the way many say it did (for being the first movie to make $100m and subsequently change how studios approached summer releases). Having seen “Jaws” many times, just listened to Carl talk about it, and knowing a few things about the studio system, I wholeheartedly agree.

Check out Heather’s piece. The Writers Panel with Carl and PFT will be out in podcast form in the next few days at the Nerdist Writers Panel.


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