Interested in visiting filming locations of Jaws while you are on Martha’s Vineyard? The island of Martha’s Vineyard stood in for Amity Island as where the first Jaws was filmed. Jaws is an iconic summer blockbuster movie which catapulted Martha’s Vineyard onto the international screens as a New England bucket list travel item and a premier Massachusetts tourist destination.
FAQ Martha’s Vineyard Jaws
In Jaws, Amity Island is actually never discussed in terms of its geography other than a general New England destination. Since it’s known that Martha’s Vineyard stood in as the Amity Island location, Amity Island Massachusetts it is.
Where was Jaws filmed?
The first Jaws was one of the movies filmed in Martha’s Vineyard. The other movies were filmed in Florida.
When was Jaws filmed?
During the spring and summer of 1974.
Is Amity Island a real place?
No. For Jaws, Martha’s Vineyard stood in as the fictional Amity Island.
What beach was Jaws filmed on?
Jaws was filmed at several beaches. For filming locations, Jaws film crew relied mostly on State Beach, one of the biggest beaches on Martha’s Vineyard and the setting of the famous shark attack scene at the beach.
What town was Jaws filmed in?
Jaws was filmed mostly in Edgartown (such as for example the Fourth of July scene) and Menemsha in Chilmark (the location of Quint’s shack).
The Jaws Martha’s Vineyard Connection
For filming Jaws Martha’s Vineyard was not necessarily a foregone conclusion.
In 2001 The National Film Registry recognised the Jaws movie for being culturally significant. Jaws gave birth to the summer blockbuster, something we take for granted nowaydays.
Now we can’t imagine the movie as anything other than what it is. The book on which Jaws the movie is based upon was written by Peter Benchley is set on Long Island.
Some based on history things from the Jaws Book
- The Quint character was based on a Long Island fisherman who caught a great white shark off Long Island.
- In 1916, 5 people were killed over 2 weeks by shark attacks on the Jersey Shore.
- The Martin Brody character was said to have come from New York City.
But hey, plenty of New Yorkers come to either visit or stay in Martha’s Vineyard. It was an easy switch to move the filming location to Martha’s Vineyard.
Steven Spielberg wanted a small resort town feeling for the movie Jaws to emphasise how one shark could terrorise an entire community. Upon scouting Long Island towns, it was decided that they were just too commercial and busy.
So Martha’s Vineyard became Amity Island, the fictional town in Jaws. The USA was in a national recession and the local population really needed the money brought in by the film. The islanders at the time lived mostly off the land and the sea like they had for generations.
In 1974, at the time of the filming of Jaws, Martha’s Vineyard was not the buzzing tourist destination it is today. The 1969 international scandal that had enveloped Ted Kennedy at Chappaquiddick had receded.
Martha’s Vineyard was just puttering along as a small island with the summer bringing in the seasonal residents of mostly old school money. The island population consisted mostly of the families who lived there year-round (and had for generations) and some hippies and retirees.
Lots of locals made it onto the film set in various capacities from extras to technical experts. Since the Hollywood crowd knew very little about boating, the locals had to help with the marine scenes. Likewise, the scene where a mad horde heads out to catch the shark was made up of some of the best seamen on the island.
Filming was done in the spring and early summer so you can imagine the weather would not have been the idyllic summer beach weather portrayed.
Jaws memories from Martha’s Vineyard are still kept fresh because the movie is played at the movies in Martha’s Vineyard regularly.
15 Filming Locations of Jaws
The first scene of the movie, the discovery of Chrissie Watkin’s remains, takes place on South Beach. Chrissie and her friends are having a bonfire on South Beach and then she lures a boy into the water for a night swim. She meets her demise following the usual bad-girls-get-killed horror movie trope.
The Amity Island Welcomes You scene took place in Aquinnah.
The scene where the shark is hung up and it’s contents checked is set in Edgartown Harbor.
The Edgartown Town Hall just got renamed as the Amity Town Hall.
The Amity Island Fourth of July Celebration took place on Edgartown main street.
The Fourth of July shark attack took place at State Beach, Senge Pond and the American Legion Bridge (aka the famous Jaws Bridge that everyone likes to jump off).
Chief Brody goes to the hardware store at the corner of Main and Water street in Edgartown. He intends to mark off the safe area for the Fourth of July
Chief Brody’s house was on East Chop Drive in Oak Bluffs. The actual house, 265 East Chop Drive, has since been remodelled. It’s a swanky location for at the chief of police, when in 2021 the chief of Oak Bluffs Fire Department is having difficulty finding a home on an island where prices have gone through the roof.
The pier that broke off was in Harthaven, on beach road between Oak Bluffs and Edgartown.
The Quint’s shack scenes were set in Menemsha. Although created for the film, Quint’s shack was inspired by the building for the Old Sculpin Gallery in Edgartown.
The scenes with the Orca, Quint’s boat, that Brody, Quint and Matt take to capture the shark, are set near by the East Chop waters near Oak Bluffs.
The film’s gory shark eating random people scenes were done at Katama Bay near Edgartown. For example, the shark has tipped a boat over and eats a teenage boy and poor Quint gets to be shark chow too.
The girls who are drawn by the teenage boy’s screams as he is eaten by the shark are sunbathing on a Chappaquidick beach.
The steamship authority ferry is seen off Vineyard Haven dock.
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