Jamie Benning has followed up last year’s excellent “Raiding the Lost Ark” filmumentary with a new one that focuses on another Gen X classic, “Jaws.” Benning’s filmumentaries differ from traditional documentaries or other making-of materials by approaching the subject in a unique way: They show each movie from beginning to end, using audio clips, bits of text, behind-the-scenes footage and photos, storyboards, concept art, deleted scenes, and other materials to deliver an experience that even a die-hard fan can appreciate.
Benning did a few interviews of his own for “Raiding the Lost Ark,” and he continued that trend for “Inside Jaws,” talking to some of the extras and crew members for quotes that you’ll hear as the film progresses. While some of them played very minor roles (for example, one of them was an extra in the hospital scene and was onscreen for just a few seconds), they all have interesting stories to tell, especially since they were able to hang around many cast members. One amusing story comes from a Martha’s Vineyard native who slipped into the beach scene despite not having been picked as an extra – at the end of the day’s shooting, an annoyed production assistant had to keep him around for the next couple days, for continuity’s sake, netting the kid a tidy sum of summer spending money.
“Inside Jaws” also features a technique I don’t recall seeing Benning use in other filmumentaries (he has covered the original “Star Wars” trilogy too): He sometimes puts the names of actors onscreen next to their characters, which is handy for pointing out Martha’s Vineyard locals. He also uses the technique in a few other places, such as when he points out Roy Scheider ducking out of view and raising his hand to cue Robert Shaw’s line during the town council meeting.
Long-time “Jaws” fans who think they have learned everything there is to know about the movie will likely learn a few new things along the way, thanks to Benning. “Inside Jaws” serves as a nice complement to Laurent Bouzereau’s excellent two-hour making-of, the “The Shark is Still Working” documentary that was included in last year’s Blu-ray release of the film, and other things you’ve seen over the years.