- Associated Press - Saturday, June 27, 2015

DARTMOUTH, Mass. (AP) - Bill King doesn’t have any pictures from the summer 41 years ago when he worked on the movie “Jaws” out of Martha’s Vineyard, which was famously renamed Amity Island in the book and the film. Someone borrowed them years ago and never gave them back, he said.

King does, however, have a worn, lavishly autographed copy of Peter Benchley’s book on which the movie was based, and he can still spin the amazing and amusing stories as though they happened yesterday.

“People don’t know how complicated it is to make a movie,” King said as he sat on the patio of his Fisher Road home. “Jaws” was released 40 years ago this month, and will be playing in Swansea and Kingston today and Wednesday.

King is a Teamster, and he was about as surprised to be working on a movie as the girl in the first scene was surprised by the shark that pulled her below the surface and did her in.

The movie was complicated and time-consuming. Shoots could go into the wee hours, and there would be hours of total boredom as the special effects team fixed the mechanical great white sharks, of which there were actually three. One had no left side skin, so the workings were exposed. Another had no right side skin. That allowed shots in either direction, when the sharks worked.

A third one ran on an underwater rail, to guide the attack.

King is a Teamster, and he was about as surprised to be working on a movie as the girl in the first scene was surprised by the shark that jerked her below the surface and did her in.

“That was shot in March or April,” King said. “The water was freezing.” The blood was red poster paint. “We bought the whole island out of poster paint,” King said with a laugh.

That 1973 phone call from the union came after young director Steven Spielberg, putting the movie together, put out the word that he needed some drivers to work on the Martha’s Vineyard set of the movie. King got the call from the union hall, informing him that the job was his if he wanted it.

It was supposed to be two weeks, maybe a little more. Like the three-hour tour in “Gilligan’s Island” that lasted forever, the making of Jaws seemed to go on forever as well. It was over budget and overdue, because the special effects crew had to constantly repair the sharks, whose metal innards were corroding in the sea water.

But there was plenty to do. When he wasn’t being sent to Boston with a flatbed to fetch a compressor to fire up the pneumatic sharks, or driving to Boston again to bring back three bar games for Spielberg and crew to unwind, King was chauffeuring Roy Schieder, Richard Dreyfuss, Murray Hamilton and Robert Shaw all over the island, he said. “I put 135 miles a day on that car,” he said.

The season wore on, with six-day weeks alternating with seven-day weeks as King and the rest of the crew flitted from one corner of the island to another.

The set decorators had built a fake house in Menemsha to serve as shark hunter Quint’s (Robert Shaw) house- “They had to pay the town if they left it there too long,” King said. But it attracted tourists in droves, he said, and when the house was finally taken down and thrown away, the town fathers were upset at losing both the tourist money and the penalty money.

Everyone was making money and becoming friends. Shaw, said King, liked to hang out with the Teamsters because “he liked beer as much as they did.” (The beer in the product placement shot was Narragansett.)

The arrival of the summer crowd complicated things. They wandered into the movie shots, on foot, in sailboats. “Everything had to stop every time,” King said.

There were a lot of union rules to follow, and some tense moments between the West Coast Teamsters and the East Coast; everything was trucked in from California, said King. Trucked in by the guys from the west.

King’s stories don’t end. And to top them all off, he said he made so much that summer that he went beyond the cap on Social Security taxes, and could stop paying them.

“Jaws” is 40 now, having come out the year after all the location shooting. King is 69. Spielberg is 68. But King talks about Jaws like he lived it yesterday- pictures or no.

___

Information from: The (New Bedford, Mass.) Standard-Times, http://www.southcoasttoday.com

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