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VIDEO: Bill Butler interviewed on Jaws and his work with Spielberg: "I hear you're making a movie about a fish"

Bill Butler talks to the audience of the Paris Shark Festival from his home in Montana... Sorry he could not be in person for the homage screening of Jaws centerpiece of the festival. Thank you Iris Butler for arranging this!
By the way : the shark in the background was the prop weathervane from atop Quint's abode (Robert Shaw)!

I am also very proud that the festival selected Sharkwater Extinction by Rob Stewart, one of my BEST FOR FESTS!

Wilmer C. "Bill" Butler, ASC (born April 7, 1921) is an American cinematographer. He shot The Conversation (1974), Jaws (1975), and three Rocky sequels. He completed 1975's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest after Haskell Wexler was fired from the production, and was subsequently nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography.

Butler had heard that Spielberg was preparing to shoot Jaws (1975), mainly on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. "I said, 'I hear you're making a movie about a fish,'" Butler recalls. After they joked for a few minutes, Spielberg asked Butler if he was interested.

Butler's crew included Michael Chapman as camera operator. When they arrived on Martha's Vineyard, Butler showed Spielberg how he could brace a handheld Panaflex camera and take the roll out of the boat rocking on the waves with his knees instead of using a 400-lb gimbal. Spielberg embraced the idea. "About 90% of the shots on the boat were handheld," Butler says. "Michael was intrigued by the idea and was very good at it. We did things that we probably wouldn't have tried without the lightweight camera. Michael even climbed the mast and shot from the top straight down. We also put him in a small boat."

During the production of Jaws, Butler spent most of his time on the picture in the water with Spielberg. Butler created a special camera platform that worked with the water to accommodate both "below the water line" and "surface" shots quickly. To handle the longer surface shots the film required, Butler reconfigured the standard "water box" casing used to hold a camera in the water. He also is acknowledged for saving footage from a camera that sank into the ocean, having claimed sea water is similar to saline-based developing solutions. "We got on an airplane with the film in a bucket of water, took it to New York and developed it. We didn't lose a foot," said Butler.

Butler also created a pontoon camera raft with a waterproof housing that achieved those trademark water level shots that gave a point of view from the shark fin. To stop water drops hitting the lens, Butler used the Panavision Spray Deflector that saw an optical glass spin at high speed to deflect the drops except for the 4th of July beach stampede where the water-lens interface adds to the panic.

Butler originally envisioned the look of Jaws to start in bright, summer sunshine and then become more ominous as the shark hunt goes on. The first half remains a riot of vibrant primary colors. In filming Amity, Butler was inspired by the work of painters such as Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth in their view of the United States untainted by urban life.....

Amazing career take a look at his fullbio on wikipedia

Watch the masterclass we have shared at Bridges Film Festival

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