2018-06-01 / Features

JAWS 2

In 1978, it wasn't safe to go in the waters of the Emerald Coast, because of local filming of one of the most popular movies of a generation
By Betty Archer Allen


ABOVE: Director Jeannot Szwarc sits under an umbrella in a white T-shirt. 
Photo courtesy of Mark Hooprich ABOVE: Director Jeannot Szwarc sits under an umbrella in a white T-shirt. Photo courtesy of Mark Hooprich In 2008, the Gulf Breeze News ran a four-part series about the 30th anniversary of the filming of “Jaws 2,” the most expensive movie ever made at the time. “Jaws 2” was the sequel to the extremely popular “Jaws.” Ten years later, Splash Magazine is taking a walk down memory lane to revisit the feel of Hollywood in our fantastic location.

The making of “Jaws 2,” the movie sequel to the mega-hit “Jaws,” might have been old-hat movie making to the professionals involved, but for the residents of Gulf Breeze and Navarre, it was a real happening.

The movie came out in theaters in the summer of 1978. The excitement for the Gulf

Breeze area, however, was experienced during the fall and winter of 1977-78, when Hollywood filmmakers and movie stars descended on the Emerald Coast to film the suspense thriller.


Below: Darryl Lapointe (center) poses with Bob (left) and David Cleveland of the Navarre Beach Holidome. 
Photo courtesy of Darryl Lapointe Below: Darryl Lapointe (center) poses with Bob (left) and David Cleveland of the Navarre Beach Holidome. Photo courtesy of Darryl Lapointe Sequel to ’75 film

“Jaws 2” was the first sequel to the “Jaws” thriller of 1975 directed by Steven Speilberg. The primary director of “Jaws 2” was Jeannot

Szwarc. The film was produced by Richard Zanuck and David

Brown.

Many of the water scenes were shot locally.

Navarre Beach was chosen for the majority of filming because of the mild fall and winter climate and the ideal depth of the water. Other parts of the movie were filmed from Fort

Pickens on Santa

Rosa Island to as far east as Choctawhatchee Bay near Fort Walton Beach. Hog’s Breath Saloon on Okaloosa Island, which has since relocated to Destin, served as the teen hangout for filming.


Gulf Breeze High School band members spent about two weeks on location, shooting and re-shooting a number of scenes. During this time, the kids made friends with many of the cast members. 
Submitted photo Gulf Breeze High School band members spent about two weeks on location, shooting and re-shooting a number of scenes. During this time, the kids made friends with many of the cast members. Submitted photo Many of the characters of “Jaws” returned for “Jaws 2.” Three major actors resumed their roles: Roy Scheider as Chief Martin Brody; Lorraine Gary as Ellen, Brody’s wife; and Murray Hamilton as Mayor Vaughn. Mark Gruner and Marc Gilpin played Brody’s sons, Mike and Sean.

The film’s tagline, “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water” became one of the most famous sayings in movie history.

Universal was able to reuse the molds of the behemouth shark from the first film, but much of the mechanism was ruined from having been left outside. For “Jaws 2,” the studio built three mechanical sharks: the platform shark, a fin and a full shark. The fin and the full shark were pulled by boats.


The swimming pool area of the old Navarre Holidome was filled with stars and plenty of “extras” from Gulf Breeze when a social scene was filmed near the beginning of the movie. 
Submitted photo The swimming pool area of the old Navarre Holidome was filled with stars and plenty of “extras” from Gulf Breeze when a social scene was filmed near the beginning of the movie. Submitted photo The company built props to enhance the scenes and make the Navarre area look more like the East Coast. They built a full-size lighthouse prop that looked genuine, despite having only one side. A wood-framed skeleton of 2-by-4s supported the building. They also built an island on a floating barge called Cable Junction. It was constructed in such a way that the huge mechanism of the platform shark could go underneath it. This island can be best seen in the final scenes of the movie.

Some stars are born

Gulf Breeze High School became a parade of stars for the casting directors of “Jaws 2” during the 1977-78 school year. About 70 students from the school got to take part in the making of the blockbuster motion picture sequel that was filmed in the Gulf Breeze and Navarre areas.


Scott Jenkins still has an original “Jaws 2” poster, but he might never forgive the producers for destroying all the sail boats. 
Photo by Betty Archer Allen Scott Jenkins still has an original “Jaws 2” poster, but he might never forgive the producers for destroying all the sail boats. Photo by Betty Archer Allen The students rubbed shoulders with celebrities and also learned how movies are made. The extras and stand-ins from GBHS were paid for their time, and some experienced how cool it was to see both themselves and their schoolmates on the silver screen.

Robert Hines, principal at GBHS in 1977, was approached by “Jaws 2” casting director Shari Rhodes, who inquired about using members of the Gulf Breeze band to perform as the Amity High band. Amity was the fictional town where shark attacks were thought to be happening with increased frequency.


Greg Walter still has a letter and $151.50 paycheck from Universal Studios. 
Submitted photo Greg Walter still has a letter and $151.50 paycheck from Universal Studios. Submitted photo The GBHS band consisted of approximately 100 members, and band director John Henley (now deceased) chose 28 student musicians, including the section of the band known as Henley’s Honkers.

Some of the local “stars” who portrayed the Amity High band were flautists Wendy Richards Rushing and Laura Prochaska Thomas, clarinetists Steve Ziegler and John Schuster and saxophonist Stan Benvenutti.

Band members wore their own uniforms for the movie.

Two weeks, no school

Steve Ziegler, one of Henley’s Honkers, remembers that as a part of the Amity High School band, he got almost two weeks off from school.

“I remember the scene in the movie where Roy Scheider was driving on Martha’s Vineyard one minute, then was magically transported to Navarre Beach,” Ziegler said. “He actually got to drive on the beach.


Philip Kingry (right) became the on-location Marine Division Head for Universal Studios’ filming of “Jaws 2.” Kingry became the liaison to rent or buy boats from local dealers. 
Submitted photo Philip Kingry (right) became the on-location Marine Division Head for Universal Studios’ filming of “Jaws 2.” Kingry became the liaison to rent or buy boats from local dealers. Submitted photo “When Scheider runs in the back door, passes the buffet and goes under the mezzanine level, the camera pans over the band and shows the side of my face. It was my 10 seconds of fame.

“The phrase, ‘Thank you, Amity High School band, for that eloquent selection’ stuck in our heads for months.”

Ziegler also remembers that Murray Hamilton (who portrayed the mayor) often went to the bar between takes. Scheider had a fit when some of the crew wandered around spraying Raid everywhere because food that had been sitting out for about 10 days drew so many flies. Scheider threw a temper tantrum, saying the insects were making it impossible for the “artists” to create. He threw in a string of assorted expletives.

The band endured as it shot and re-shot the scene a dozen times.

After the band finished its Hollywood experience, it played the theme song to “Jaws 2” for a football game halftime show, and all the GBHS “stars” and the “Jaws 2” teen stars attended the game together.

Band got $3,500

In choosing the students who were to be extras, Hines consulted with teachers and counselors. Ten girls were selected, and they, in turn, selected 10 boys to participate as extras in the movie. Some students in this group included Lisa Cady Newell, Michael Gruber, Veronica Hawthorne O’Brien, Clayton Wells, Connie Brinson Randle, Kim Bartels, Michell Brooks and Greg Walter.

They made up part of the audience when the cast member walked out onto a plank over the indoor swimming pool and cut the ribbon for the opening of the new Holiday Inn-Amity Shores.

They also appeared at the Grand Opening Ball that was supposedly being held for the Amity Scholarship Fund Benefit. These extras found that they had a lot of time on their hands and had to find ways occupy to themselves while waiting hours for filming.

O’Brien relates an incident in one of their waiting periods.

“On the second day of filming, Lisa Cady, Kim Bartels and I found a nice, tidy, empty room to watch TV and play Dominoes while waiting for a call to be filmed. Much to our surprise, Scheider walked into his room for a quiet nap and found us.”

Walter still has his letter and paycheck from Universal Pictures. He was not only a high school student chosen as an extra, but he was employed at the Holiday Inn at Navarre as a dishwasher, his first job, and he got to watch many scenes being shot and re-shot as well as acting in the “grand opening” scene.

He recalls: “Scheider jogged every morning and spent all his spare time tanning on the beach. The whole experience was very cool for the GBHS teenagers.”

Newell says, “The excitement was that we were able to miss classes and get paid $3 per hour for our time, but being in the shots was very tedious.”

Universal made a contribution of $3,500 to the school and the band for their part in the movie. The money was spent to purchase a sound system for the band.

Lots of teens were used

“Jaws 2” was the fifth-highest grossing film of 1978, and it was filmed on both the Emerald Coast of Florida and at Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.

While the Emerald Gulf coast embraced the filming of “Jaws 2,” many residents and businesses of Martha’s Viveyard were not enthusiastic about the presence of the film crew in their area.

“Universal Go Home” T-shirts began appearing on the streets in mid-June of 1977. Since most of the action for “Jaws 2” takes place in the water, and beach scenes enhanced water scenes, it can be assumed that the movie makers enjoyed this area more.

“Teens in peril” was the story line of “Jaws 2,” and the major focus of the movie included young people. Appropriately, Gulf Breeze High School had many available teens to cast.

Newell and the entire Hooprich family -- Eugene (Dad), Faye (Mom), Jeanine (Bertram) and Mark – served as extras. Alvin and Amalia Bruce, Charlie Robinson and Beverly Vaughn did, likewise.

In the beach scenes, vacationers can be seen walking and playing on the beach all around the area where filming is occurring on location near Fort Pickens. These extras had to report to work daily before 8 a.m. and stay until 5 p.m. for at least a week.

“We could hear the director yell, ‘It’s a print. Let’s do it one more time,” Newell remembers. The end of the workday was signaled by the words, “It’s a wrap.”

Newell’s toes appeared in an early beach scene; she was buried in the sand with a complete stranger, and they were told to talk as if they were intimate. Later, she appeared in a scene sporting a pair of big sunglasses.

Mark Hooprich was a junior at Gulf Breeze High and he had a friend, John Bruce, whose parents -- Alvin and Amalia Bruce -- were involved in scenes shot at the Holiday Inn Navarre. Mark Hooprich went to watch some of the filming and ran into the casting director. He told her he would be interested in participating in the movie, and she instructed him to complete a form and include photos of himself and his family, since they needed families for the beach scenes. He provided this information after he convinced his parents and sister to try to be extras for the beach scenes.

Mark and Jeanine Hooprich appeared in movie playing volleyball and also running out of the water when Scheider’s character was firing his gun at what he thought was a shark.

“It was a great experience, and I learned a lot about how a movie is made,” Mark Hooprich said. “We even got paid. What remains after 30 years is a beat-up ‘Jaws 2’ T-shirt, the remnants of a wicked sunburn, some great memories and the ability to impress people when I tell them that I was in a major motion picture.”

Amalia Bruce, dressed to the nines, can be seen in the group around the pool at the Holidome in the early scenes of the movie and also in several shots walking on the beautiful white sand. She was wearing a great looking bathing suit and a big hat in the beach scenes.

“I got to know the actors and their families who came with them to film the movie on location,” Bruce says.

She became especially close to Murray Hamilton’s wife, who sought her help and advice about Murray’s drinking. Her husband, Alvin Bruce (now deceased), played one of the selectmen and can be seen sitting to the left of Mayor Vaughn when he is making his speech at the Holidome.

Amalia said, “My husband looked very dignified in his role as a selectman.”

$50 a day

Several other GBHS students were hired as stand-ins or doubles for the teenage actors to appear in the water scenes and to maintain and sail the boats.

Two of these students were Jon Berndsen and Scott Jenkins. Berndsen was hired by the producer to maintain and sail the catamarans and to double for a couple of the actors, including Mark Gruner.

“I got paid $50 per day for essentially going out and doing what I loved each day, sailing,” Bernsden says. “What could be better? Fifth dollars a day was big bucks for a 17-year-old back in 1977.”

Scott Jenkins, a high school junior, became a stand-in for one the actors.

“I was walking down the hall at Gulf Breeze High School and one of the casting assistants grabbed me and said I looked like one of the teenage stars,” said Jenkins.

He remembers that the water was so cold he had to wear panty hose to stay warm. Scott still has a framed copy of the “Jaws 2” teaser poster.

Robert Turpin, another GBHS student, was able to wear his wet suit under his clothes as protection against the cold. He was the stand in for actor Keith Gordon, who played Doug in the movie.

Berndsen and Jenkins said the teenage actors in the movie didn’t know anything about sailing or, for that matter, the water. For sailing scenes that were not close-up, Jon and Scott would just sail around until the director shouted instructions over a bullhorn.

When it was time for a close-up shot of the actors sailing the boat by themselves, they would get the boat in position, sails set, and under way, with the camera boat chasing them. Then they would hand the tiller and sheets to the actor for whom they were stand-ins. When the director yelled “Action!” they had to jump into the water so as not to be in the scene as the boat sailed off.

They shot the scene over and over, and each time they had to tread water for quite a while until a boat came and picked them up. Other times, when the shot called for the boat to be sitting idle in the water, they would slip over the side and hold their breath under water as long as they could while the cameras were rolling.

The need for boats

Since “Jaws 2” was shot primarily on the water, they needed people who knew the Gulf of Mexico, recognized it as a basin off the Atlantic and understood how to maneuver a marine vessel in the body of water. The skills could only be gained through experience and training, and producers were able to find local business people who had the kind of expertise they needed in boating.

Some of these people included Philip Kingry, Gene Killinger, Glen MacDonald, Michael Craighead, Edith Brewis and Joan Wilhelm. In fact, both Kingry and Craighead went on to work in other Universal productions. Kingry became the Marine Division Head for Universal on location. Federick Zendar was the original head, but he had melanoma and had returned to California for treatment.

Kingry was a local boat captain and knew the area well. He worked in his family’s business, which was known as Skipper’s Diving. His initial responsibility was to acquaint the producers with area waters. In his position as Marine Division Head, Kingry acted as liaison to rent or buy boats.

“I asked (the producer) David Brown, ‘What is my budget?’ “Kingry recalls.

Brown responded, “We’re not wasteful, but we’re spending the profit from ‘Jaws,’ and it will take what it takes.”

Work was ‘fun’

In 1977, Glen McDonald was a boat captain who knew how to sail the Gulf of Mexico. Since “Jaws 2” was primarily filmed on boats, temporary docks and barges at sea, MacDonald’s expertise was needed for the photography from the Pensacola Pass, Fort Pickens to Fort Walton Beach and Choctawhatchee Bay.

“What they called work, we called fun,” MacDonald says, “and we were well paid for going out to have fun.”

Universal rented MacDonald’s 30-foot boat, with MacDonald as captain, along with a six-man crew. They constructed a camera stand on the boat, and MacDonald ferried the camera and crew from Fort Pickens to Choctawhatchee Bay.

MacDonald said film crews were unaccustomed to filming on boats. They didn’t understand prevailing weather patterns, and, ironically, were scared of sharks.

“Every Friday night, Universal held a social gathering for everyone involved in the making of the film and families were invited,” MacDonald says. “Here they would show the rushes of the work accomplished that week.”

Despite working under a scorching sun for most of the daylight hours, MacDonald and his mates were sorry to see filming end.

Fade to black

Alas, the filming of “Jaws 2” came to an end. Szwarc was very effective in handling long camera shots of the shark to increase the tension and expectations of the audience. The ending of “Jaws 2” was comparable to the original in creating knuckle-whitening suspense.

Memories of “Jaws 2” remain in the hearts and minds of local people who participated in making the film and those who lived vicariously through them. For a while, evidence could be found that “Jaws 2” had, indeed, been filmed on the Emerald Coast.

Jan Evans Fernald, a Gulf Breeze High School graduate, wrote: “About six months after the filming of ‘Jaws 2’ concluded, my boyfriend and I were walking on Navarre Beach on the sound side. As we were strolling along, we saw a large boulder about the size of a large cooler at water’s edge. We investigated, only to find that it was a prop from the movie. It was so realistic that even on a sandy beach without another rock for hundreds of miles around, it still looked perfectly natural.”

Four decades ago, Universal Studios chose the Emerald Coast as a filming location for the movie “Jaws 2.” Staff writer Betty Archer Allen reported exclusively about how the movie affected Gulf Breeze residents in 2008. Portions of the original have been edited for space.

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