Where Was Jaws Filmed? All Filming Locations Explained

Jaws is one of the most iconic summer films of all time, and its filming locations add to its appeal. To tell the story of Bruce, the killer great white shark, and how he terrorized a whole town one summer, Steven Spielberg set the story in a beach town. While the United States has an abundance of beaches from California to South Carolina, Spielberg’s film was set in the northeast. This allowed the film to have a small-town feel to it, and since small towns are typically known to be safer with less excitement than big cities, the shark attacks really rocked the characters’ world.




The film is set in the fictional town of Amity Island, New York, which is seemingly a play on the actual New York location, Long Island. Long Island is even home to the town of Amityville, which raises questions about why filmmakers didn’t take advantage of the New York area. While it sounds like a good idea, filmmakers felt Long Island was too crowded and wanted the filming locations for Jaws to feel isolated. To fulfill their ideal, they went up North to an island in Massachusetts called Martha’s Vineyard and shot all around the area.

Related: Where Was Jaws 2 Filmed?



Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard Posed As Amity Island

Jaws movie

Edgartown in Martha’s Vineyard was used quite a lot throughout Jaws. It was used as Downtown Amity because of its quiet, small-town appeal. The neighborhood, which looks pretty much the same today, gives off a very New England, nautical feel. It’s perfect for those who prefer a more quiet summer, like the characters in the movie who never expected a great white shark to come through town and turn their world upside down. The area was used for the Amity police station, Amity Gazette, and the Amity hardware store. Filmmakers also used the real Edgartown Town Hall as the Amity Town Hall.

Jaws Used South Beach And Cow Beach In Edgartown For Chrissie’s Death

Jaws opening scene with Chrissie in the water

Like a lot of thriller films, Jaws opens with a killer scene that sets the tone for the rest of the movie. Chrissie meets a young man around her age at a bonfire and convinces him to follow her into the water as she strips off her clothes. Lucky for him, he never makes it, but Chrissie does, and things don’t go well. Chrissie is promptly attacked and eaten by Bruce. The iconic opening scene was actually shot at two different locations, Edgardtown South Beach and Cow Beach. The bonfire scene was shot at South Beach, while Chrissie’s death was shot in the waters of Cow Beach.

The American Legion Memorial Bridge Appeared In The Pond Attack Scene

Jaws bridge

The American Legion Memorial Bridge at Sengekontacket Pond appears in the background of the pond shark attack scene, where it seems Martin Brody’s son Michael is about to get eaten. Luckily, Martin and other beachgoers get him out of the water in time, but the same can’t be said for another fisherman. The bridge has since been labeled “Jaws Bridge,” and jumping off the bridge into the pond has become a popular summer pastime.

Martin Brody And Matt Hooper First Met At Edgartown Harbor

Jaws Martin Brody and Matt Hooper

Edgartown Harbor was used for the scene where Martin and Matt Hooper first meet. It’s a pretty chaotic scene with loud boats, fishermen piling in, and a fast-paced tracking shot following Martin and Hendricks to the end of the dock. In reality, it’s a pretty quiet area, but the scene made it feel disorderly.

Mayor Larry Vaughn Decides To Keep Beaches Open At Chappy Ferry

Jaws ferry scene

A crucial Jaws scene takes place on the ferry where Mayor Larry Vaughn scolds Martin for suggesting the town shuts down the beaches. Larry would rather watch more townspeople die than close the beaches and risk everyone leaving the town to swim somewhere else, like Cape Cod or The Hamptons. The scene took place at Chappy Ferry, also in Edgartown. Fans of the movie can ride the ferry if they want to by traveling to 53 Dock Street and riding from Edgartown to Chappaquiddick.

Gay Head Lighthouse Appears In The Ferry Scene

Jaws lighthouse

As the scene goes on and Vaughn continues to argue with Martin about shutting down the beaches, a real-life Martha’s Vineyard lighthouse appears in the background. The scenery adds to the New England beach town feel, even though the characters don’t actually go there, and it’s simply a background decoration. The lighthouse is called Gay Head Lighthouse and is located in Aquinnah.

Quint’s Shop Is Located In Menemsha Village

Jaws Quint's Shop

Martin visits Quint’s shop to get him on board with catching the great white shark. Unfortunately, Quint’s shop is not a real place and was built for the film. However, the area where the filmmakers built the set is very much real. The shop is located in Menemsha Village in Martha’s Vineyard. While fans can’t visit the shop, they can visit the area and imagine where Quint’s place once stood during filming for Jaws.

Related: A Jaws Quint Prequel Would Never Have Worked (With Or Without Spielberg)

Matt Hooper’s Near Death Was Shot In Australia

Jaws

Filmmakers had to go way down south for one iconic Jaws scene. Leaving Martha’s Vineyard behind, they traveled to Spencer Gulf and Dangerous Reef in Australia to film Matt Hooper’s Jaws shark attack scene. In the scene, Matt goes down in a shark cage and nearly dies when Bruce severely damages the cage by crashing into it several times. Luckily, Matt survives by hiding on the ocean floor.

Bruce’s Death Was Shot In Oak Bluff & East Chop

The shark's first appearance in Jaws

For the final most satisfying scene in Jaws, filmmakers remained in Martha’s Vineyard. Shot in both Oak Bluff and East Chop, Martin avenges all of Bruce’s victims that summer by shooting at the Shark, hitting the scuba tank in his mouth, and causing him to explode. Fans can cruise through the area to get a look at the area Bruce had his final moments.

A Final Jaws Scene Was Shot In A Backyard Pool In Encino, California

Jaws the head

A little-known fact about Jaws is that production was finished when Spielberg had a new idea. The director wanted a jumpscare, something iconic like other thriller films have had. He came up with the idea for Matt to discover a floating head and filmed the scene in an unlikely location.

The scene where the decapitated head pops up and scares Matt was filmed in a pool in film editor Verna Fields’ backyard. Fields had a home in Encino, California, with a pool in her backyard. Spielberg filled the pool with milk to make it look more like the ocean and filmed the scene there. It may have been last minute, but it worked and further proves why Spielberg is a genius and why Jaws remains such an iconic movie.

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