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Where Was Jaws Actually Filmed?

In 1975, a little known director named Steven Spielberg released a film called "Jaws," based on the 1974 novel by Peter Benchley about a man-eating shark tormenting a small seaside town called Amity Island. The film stars Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw, Lorraine Gary, and more, and it was a huge success, making over $470 million worldwide at the box office (The Numbers). One of the most exciting parts of the movie is how it was the first major film to be shot on the ocean, and Spielberg put a lot of effort into making the movie feel as realistic as possible (Entertainment Voice). He even had a huge mechanical shark nicknamed "Bruce" made for filming, but because of the intense salt water of the ocean, there were a lot of issues with its use, leading to the more minimal presence of the shark in the finished film (Edinburgh International Film Festival).

But where exactly was "Jaws" filmed? The movie's setting of Amity Island doesn't really exist, so Spielberg had to find a location that could evoke the same small beach town feel, with the community dependent on tourism and beachgoers for the economy. While there are many popular places that probably come to mind, Spielberg was also looking for somewhere where production costs could be kept low and there wouldn't be crowds of people getting in the way. While it might surprise you to hear this now, Spielberg found the perfect filming location in Martha's Vineyard. 

Most of Jaws was filmed in Edgartown in Martha's Vineyard

The movie never really suggests that Amity Island is in any specific state, just saying that it is a northeastern seaside town. In reality, this is a little place known as Edgartown in Martha's Vineyard. While looking at filming locations, the Hamptons was a big contender, as the original book that the movie is based on is set here and mentions specific attributes of the area. But according to Dan's Papers, the location was nixed because "they needed the resort to be one that appeared to be very, very isolated," while the Hamptons felt too "busy." Spielberg picked Martha's Vineyard instead, which was a lot quieter and less popular than it is now 40 years ago when the movie was filmed.

As for specific locations in Martha's Vineyard that can be seen in the film, the beach scenes were mainly filmed at State Beach, while nearby beaches like South Beach and Cow Beach were also used, and the Fourth of July celebration takes place on Edgartown's main street (Martha's Vineyard Tourist). There's also the famous bridge that people would jump off of into the ocean which is called the American Legion Bridge, but it has come to be known as the "Jaws" Bridge by many (Atlas Obscura). Other local locations that feature in the movie are the Edgartown dock, a house on East Chop Drive in Oak Bluffs that is Chief Brody's house, and more town buildings in Edgartown, while Quint's shack was built just for the film in Menemsha, a nearby fishing village on the island.