A documentary about production designer Joe Alves.

Visit our Kickstarter page to make your donation! – http://kck.st/3TLPDyI

He designed the shark for Jaws, “discovered” Devils Tower for Close Encounters Of The Third Kind and provided the dystopian world for Escape From New York… His name is Alves and he’s NOT YOUR AVERAGE JOE.As part of Filmumentaries™ continuing film history and preservation quest…This is a documentary about production designer Joe Alves and his journey through four decades of the movie industry.With interviews from someof the biggest names in Hollywood, we will lookat the influenceandtheimpact his incredible archive of work has had.

From beginnings at Disney animation and Universal Television to working for the biggest names in film, Joe Alves (now 86), was and still is a fiercely driven man. Born in 1930’s California, Joe was endowed with a drive to be the best at whatever he did.  He utilised his skills in drawing, animation, design and architecture to work on some of cinema’s most iconic productions.Working in Hollywood in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s Joe rubbed shoulders with just about everybody. Even finding time to introduce Paul Newman to another of Joe’s loves, motor racing.Joe went from animating for Walt on Forbidden Planet and Sleeping Beauty to building up to forty sets a week for Universal on shows like The Psychiatrist and Rod Serling’s Night Gallery to most famously designing the iconic Bruce the shark for Spielberg’s Jaws. But it doesn’t end there… he has connections to just about everyone including Elvis Presley, Audrey Hepburn, James Stewart, Marlon Brando, James Dean, Goldie Hawn, John Carpenter and even… Herman Munster.Joe’s impact can not be understated and thankfully he kept something from almost everything he worked on, leaving an incredible private archive of production material. Including original storyboards, blueprints, design sketches and photographs. We’ve been given unprecedented access to all of this and we are excited to share it with you. 

In March 2022 we self-funded a trip to LA to spend five days shooting interviews and b-roll about Joe’s life and career in and around his beautiful house and workshop. We even took Joe into downtown Los Angeles to the Academy Museum to reunite him with a certain shark. The core interview of the documentary is in the can. What we need now is your help to complete the film. Some key contributors are already on board, including:

  • Writer and star of Jaws, Carl Gottlieb.
  • The Walking Dead’s Greg Nicotero. A huge admirer of Joe’s work.
  • Joe’s good friend, comedian Dick Smothers.
  • Author of “Designing Jaws”, Dennis Prince.

We are aiming for additional contributions from:

  • Jaws and Close Encounters special effects legend Roy Arbogast.
  • Other key colleagues that worked alongside Joe.
  • Director Quentin Tarantino. “Jaws is maybe, possibly the greatest movie ever made”. He’s is also an expert on some of Joe’s early TV work.
  • Escape from New York director and collaborator John Carpenter.
  • Back to the Future star Lea Thompson. Her first break was in Joe’s directorial debut, Jaws 3D.
  • Jaws and Close Encounters star Richard Dreyfuss.
  • Director / Producer Robert Rodriguez.
  • Close Encounters special effects legend Dennis Muren.
  • Escape From New York Cinematographer, Dean Cundey.
  • Star of Close Encounters Bob Balaban.
  • Actor and friend Helen Mirren.
  • Ian Shaw, Son of Robert Shaw and author of The Shark Is Broken.

And of course…

  • Cinema legend, director Steven Spielberg.

Yes, we are aiming high! But also we know how well respected Joe is in the film community. Doors are already opening for us.

  • To complete the documentary to the highest possible standards.
  • To interview the best contributors that worked alongside Joe and those who were influenced by his work.
  • To share Joe’s archive with movie fans like us.
  • To bring Joe’s iconic designs and sets alive through our team of graphic designers, fine artists, graphic novelists and 3D animators.
  • To preserve Joe’s stories and do justice to an incredible life’s work.

We are always aware of the balance between making the best documentary we can without breaking the bank. So we need your support for us to:

  • Pay our creative team for music, animation, artwork etc.
  • Travel to carry out the interviews.
  • Licence archive, movie clips, photographs and music.
  • Hire a talented craft editor and sound mixing team.
  • Pay legal and insurance fees (an often forgotten part of documentary filmmaking).
  • Deliver the best film we can.

With your help and support we know this is achievable. We’re aiming to raise £80,000 so that we can make this a reality. We want nothing more than for you all to see the finished film and we know you will fall in love with Joe and his work just as we have.

  • Co-directorJamie Benning is live television editor, coordinator and director on large international sporting events like Formula 1 as well as the creator of Filmumentaries; behind the scenes documentaries – Star Wars Begins (2011), Raiding the Lost Ark (2012) and Inside Jaws (2013). Also the founder and host of The Filmumentaries Podcast. A twice monthly film history podcast with high profile guests including several Oscar winners… sound designer Walter Murch, Steadicam inventor Garrett Brown, ILM chief model maker Lorne Peterson and most recently VFX legend Dennis Muren. (That’s Jamie with Mr Lucas below). filmumentaries.com
  • Co-director Patrick Tyndall is an ex news editor and producer. Now a camera operator and DoP working largely on big international sporting events like ATP Tennis and Formula 1 motor racing. (That’s Paddy over Lewis Hamilton’s shoulder!)
  • Edit Consultation and Color Grading – Ian Greck – Grechy is an editor and colourist who has been working on feature films, documentaries and commercials for the last 15 years. His credits include three Bond films, Top Gear, and most recently the highly acclaimed 14 Peaks for Netflix. In the absence of Verna Fields he is the best in the business!  https://www.iangrech.com
  • Art and Animation – Rhys Wooton is a graphic artist with a love of movies who creates incredible comic book and poster illustrations and animations. He recently penned the Jaws expanded universe graphic novel Hendricks. rhyswootton.com
  • Fine Art and Poster ArtWill Rochfort is a UK painter with a mastery of equisite portraits and behind the scenes movie imagery. His focus is always on story, composition and colour to create snapshots in time. williamrochfort.com
  • Music Composition and Sound Mix – Scott Morton – This Welsh wizard of music and sound has worked in the television industry for more than two decades. Jamie and Paddy were keen to utilise Scott’s unique audio skills. You can hear two of his compositions in the trailer. 

Patrick and Jamie have previously teamed up for a short documentary series on Filmumentaries.com for which they interviewed Yoda and Jabba puppeteer Dave Barclay, legendary Star Wars and Indiana Jones producer Robert Watts and Ridley Scott collaborator and producer Ivor Powell, who worked on 2001, Alien and Blade Runner.Building momentum from all these projects and collaborations, we were inspired to produce our first feature length documentary.Patrick and Jamie are co-directing the documentary as well as overseeing the entire post production and delivery process.

We are confident that this film has the potential to be entertaining and informative to a wide audience. From movie fans, film students, film historians, to current and former film crew… In fact, anyone that loves and appreciates what it really takes to make movies. The more money we raise, the more we will re-invest into the project.Our film will highlight key aspects of the production designer’s / art director’s role on some of the most iconic films in cinema history, and will forever preserve the stories and experiences of a wonderful, warm, talented man.

We’d beforever grateful for your support. 

Please share. 

Thank you.

Jamie & Patrick