Weekend Read by Claudine Wolk: The Jaws Log, by Carl Gottlieb
Claudine Wolk is an author, podcast host, and book marketing consultant. Find her writing at claudinewolk.substack.com.
Arts News Now’s Claudine Wolk reviews The Jaws Log, by Carl Gottlieb.
Author’s Personal Note: On September 25th, my second book, co-authored with Julie Murkette, Get Your Book Seen and Sold: The Essential Book Marketing and Publishing Guide, was released. I could not think of a better book to select for review this month to commemorate the new release and to offer a nod to all creators and writers out there to keep creating, than The Jaws Log, by Carl Gottlieb. ~ Claudine Wolk
Jaws, the movie, premiered on June 20, 1975. The movie business was never the same after its release. The summer blockbuster was born and the WAY movies were made was changed forever. Hollywood and the movie business also made way for a very young director who had very new ideas about movie-making named Steven Spielberg.
Jaws holds a special place in my heart because it was one of the few movies that I remember seeing with my whole family at a drive-in. For the youngsters out there, a drive-in is exactly what is sounds like. You drive-in to a parking lot and watch a movie from the inside of your car. My Dad pulled our car in backwards on the drive-in lot and popped the trunk of our beige, chevy station wagon. My siblings and I sat just inside the trunk on blankets and pillows brought from home just in case we fell asleep before the movie was over. For snacks, Mom brought bright-colored, chemically-flavored juices in plastic barrel containers with shiny, foil lids and store-bought popcorn. A true treat for a family of five in the seventies.
The fabulousness of the drive-in movie experience, snuggled with my siblings, watching the most popular movie in existence was a memory embedded in my eight-year-old brain. Through the resulting years, whenever the movie was on, I stopped what I was doing and watched it. Over the years, I started to love the movie for itself, not simply for the memories it conjured of my family. Each time I watch the movie, I picked up something I had not noticed before – things about the story, the soundtrack, the actors, the terror, the dialogue, the continuity of the story – Jaws had it all.
When I discovered that a non-fiction book existed that chronicled the making of the film Jaws, I had to read it. The Jaws Log, by Carl Gottlieb, written and first published at the time of the movie’s release, has been published in several anniversary editions and formats since 1975. Gottlieb, a screen writer and actor on the movie, had the prescience to write the “log,” guessing that the “making of Jaws” was going to be popular book subject. He was correct.
Originally published by the author’s cousin’s, Paul Gottlieb, with New Market Press in 1975, the book has enjoyed a 25th and 30th anniversary edition and currently, in its expanded edition, by Dey Street Books (2012), includes penetrating end notes by the author, Carl Gottlieb. The book is a “behind the scenes” master class look at how fabulous, entertaining products come to fruition. It showcases the fact that artists need to keep going and stay motivated to create and that “the going” is not always easy but fraught with the kind of peril that a fake, man-eating shark can elicit.
Actor Jon Krasinski endorsed The Jaws Log by writing, “This is, without a doubt, one of the greatest books about making movies.” I submit that it also is one of the greatest books that chronicles the way a creative vision comes successfully to life. As both a screen writer and an actor on the film, Carl Gottlieb admits personal sacrifices must be made for the greater good – many of his personal acting scenes were cut or edited out by his own hand, for example. He writes that as the film was being made, he and the other staff viscerally knew that there was a greater vision that needed to be born, the film that is Jaws.
Gottlieb describes his working on the Jaws screenplay, as the movie was being shot on Martha’s Vineyard, as well as a behind-the-scenes reporting of the making of the movie from inception when it was the kernel of an idea, to the studio buying the rights to it, to the producers financing it and then finally to the staffing of the movie. He then describes the work on Martha’s Vineyard, the famous issues with the mechanical shark (there were three “sharks”), the actors interaction day to day, the frustrations of filming, and the problem-solving process complete with pictures. Finally, he describes the finishing of the film back in LA – the final editing, soundtrack creation and application, and the marketing and release of the movie.
Gottlieb is a great screenwriter but also a great writer, period. The Jaws Log is easy to read, fluid, interesting and funny. He combines humor, real-life reporting, and gentle behind-the-scenes gossip. In the expanded edition, his end notes are creative and charming. Gottlieb’s follow-up on details of the actors and events that were not available in 1975 when the book first released are particularly interesting and poignant.
Creators deserve to have their vision, their message out into the world. In the book, The Jaws Files, all the creativity, passion, process, frustration, and hope that need to come together for a creative to succeed in his/her craft is described and culminate in this amazing film that has stood the test of time. The book, The Jaws Files, has also stood the test of time and is encouragement for all creatives to make their own magic happen and to keep creating.
Pub Date: August 7, 2012 (orig., 1975)
Publisher: Dey Street Books/ Anniversary Expanded
Page Count: 217 pp