McDermott Pool was closed Monday as a crew from Local 481 of the International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) transformed the deep end into a lake, McDermott Lake for lack of another name.
Bubbles emerged from the black bottom – yes, the pool was no longer blue – as a crewman in a Benny’s sweatshirt lowered a milk crate with a rock into the water. Against the pool wall phragmites – the invasive marsh reed that has chokes local brooks and wetlands – stood tall, anchored in containers that would also be placed in the pool.
Wood for a dock that will be erected in the deep end of the pool leaned against a wall.
Outside the building another crewmember sprayed a giant black canvas that, once thoroughly soaked, would ensure it would sink. It would join the quilt of canvases already anchored to the bottom with rocks.
Sarah Paterson emerged from the bottom, removing the air regulator from her mouth. She admitted that diving in a nice warm pool wasn’t a bad gig, but creating a lake scene was no happenstance endeavor.
“There’s a lot of effort for a few minutes,” she said. “We’ve got to make it look good.”
A crew of about 24 is working on the lake scene that is part of Stalwart Productions’ filming of Season 2 of NOS4A2, a horror series. Stalwart is based in North Kingstown. The pool team, Paterson estimated, is a small part of the crew that she said numbered more than 100.
“You’re not hiring Hollywood, you’re hiring local,” said Tommy Betschart, who watched the setup from poolside. Betschart is a medic and had a full set of diving gear and supplies should a problem develop during preparation of the scene or the filming that is expected to start Thursday. Both Betschart and Paterson thought the clip that eventually makes it into the film would be no more than a minute to two minutes.
Betschart said the scene has already been carefully choreographed with the location of underwater cameras and the path the actors will take. The stage crew follows the plan so that scene plays out as envisioned.
Little had been done to the pool exterior by Monday morning and it seemed unimaginable that after shooting an underwater world – albeit there won’t be any fish or other creatures – that cameras would surface to a scene familiar to McDermott Pool swimmers.
Betschart suggested they might erect a green screen that would enable the projection of a background.
Closure of the pool and its rental for $1,000 a day has annoyed some taxpayers and McDermott Pool regulars. Some argue the city should be charging more. As part of the contract, Recreation and Parks director James Scott said, Stalwart would purchase swimming passes that will be given to the public for the inconvenience of the pool closure. The pool is scheduled to reopen on Sunday.
The NOS4A2 series is based on a novel of the same name by Joe Hill, son of author Stephen King. The series stars Zachary Quinto and Ashley Cummings.
According to a press release from AMC, “NOS4A2” tells the story of “a gifted young woman” – Vic McQueen, a role played by Cummings – who “discovers she has a supernatural ability to find lost things.”
“This ability puts her on a collision course with Charlie Manx [Quinto], a seductive immortal who feeds off the souls of children, then deposits what remains of them into Christmasland – an icy, twisted Christmas village of Manx’s imagination where every day is Christmas Day and unhappiness is against the law,” the description reads. “Vic strives to defeat Manx and rescue his victims – without losing her mind or falling victim to him herself.”
The first season of 10 episodes was filmed in Rhode Island in late 2018 and 2019 and appeared on the AMC cable network. The second season is scheduled to premiere next fall.