The Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival kicked off its summer film series with a free outdoor screening of “Jaws.”
The film festival set up a large, inflatable movie screen on the beach at Owen Park in Vineyard Haven. Family and friends came early to set up beach chairs and blankets on the sand and boat dock to get a good view of the classic thriller. A drone was flying around snapping pictures and videos of the estimated 500 people.
Carly Trider and Alison Birdsey of Farmington, Conn., were two of the few brave souls who ventured out onto the water with kayaks and paddleboards, provided free of charge by Island Spirit Kayak. By their estimates, Trider and Birdsey had seen the film “hundreds” of times before, but were intrigued about watching from the water. “It’s a great movie,” Trider said.
Former Tisbury selectman Larry Gomez was out surveying the scene. He told The Times the event reminded him of the 2005 Jaws Fest, which celebrated the 30th anniversary of the film’s release.
“People like coming here,” Gomez said of the beach. “They like ‘Jaws.’”
The screening also had a special guest appearance from Jeffrey Kramer, the actor who played Deputy Hendricks. Kramer gave a brief introduction before the familiar and bone-chilling John Williams score drifted across the beach.
While veteran viewers and first-timers alike jumped at the film’s famous shark scenes, the real suspense came from Chick Stapleton, owner of Island Spirit Kayak, swimming in the water with a large foam shark fin, tipping over unsuspecting viewers once the sun went down. “I had the best job,” she said.
The screening was met with whistles and applause once the credits rolled. Howard Paisner said the outdoor screening was “amazing.” Paisner thought the Owen Park setting was a good choice, but would like to see the movie screened in Menemsha.
Film Festival artistic director Brian Ditchfield said the event was “a success by every measure.” Ditchfield put the event together with Stapleton. The two have been longtime friends, and came up with the idea for the outdoor screening while on a bus together from Boston.
“I felt like it went better than we could have even expected. I’m really thrilled with the turnout and how the event played out. At the end of the event, Chick and I were talking about doing it again next year,” he said.