Lady in the Water Set makes a Splash in Bristol

Sandwiched between a baseball field and a school bus depot – andacross the street from one of Bristol Township’s poorer neighborhoods -sits what everyone in town is talking about.

The movie set.

Shyamalan’s latest project is a “good thing… happening in Bristol.”

Sandwiched between a baseball field and a school bus depot – andacross the street from one of Bristol Township’s poorer neighborhoods -sits what everyone in town is talking about.

The movie set.

M. Night Shyamalan’s latest project, The Lady in the Water,has been filming at the Bristol Commerce Center, on the site of the old3M plant, since August and is expected to continue until November.Starring Paul Giamatti (Sideways) and Bryce Dallas Howard (The Village), the film is scheduled to open in July 2006.

“A good thing is happening in Bristol,” said Eleanor Tramel, 55, wholives in the Bloomsdale Fleetwing neighborhood. “This movie is going toput us on the map.”

The production is also expected to bring several million dollars inrevenue to area businesses. The film company has already made a $50,000donation to the township to help renovate a proposed community centeron Coats Avenue.

“They’re interested in recreation and wanted to give somethinglasting to the community,” township managing director Suzanne Newsomesaid.

The moviemakers are paying for the local police and fire servicesthey use during production, and will provide earned income tax revenuefor the township. But the biggest windfall may come in the future.

“What is important in the movie industry is to base where there isan indigenous population of workers. Philadelphia is developing as amini-production area,” said Lady in the Water producer SamMercer, who has worked on other Shyamalan films. “We chose Bristol forits proximity to Philadelphia and its logistical access to I-95.”

And for the tank.

The 3M site, which once had an airport – it was then a tapemanufacturer that employed 1,000 in 1978 – has a 500,000-gallon tankthat can be used for filming underwater. Shyamalan’s fantasy film isabout a building manager (Giamatti) who discovers an ethereal creature(Howard) in his swimming pool.

The water container was used by 3M as a fire tank before the company went to a more sophisticated fire pump system.

“I’d love to use that as a sound stage again and again,” said SharonPinkenson, executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Film Office,which promotes and assists movie production throughout the region. “Theexceptional thing is that they have a tank for underwater scenes, andthat is a huge advantage.”

The 81-acre property also has a warehouse, a 50,000-square-foot office building, and plenty of space to build.

“Our office structure allowed them to make a mini-campus,” saidJamie Herring, the managing member of Green Lane Properties, which ownsthe site. “It has an indoor warehouse that lets them set up stages andhas outdoor space to construct sets.”

Herring said the request from a film company to lease the site for ayear came as a surprise. He now intends to “aggressively pursue” moretenants from the film industry.

That will be welcome news to area businesses that have benefited from having a major motion picture set in their backyard.

“We actually did a catering job for the whole crew. It was prettybig – 400 to 450 people,” said Bill Christine, co-owner of Smoke’nDudes Smoke House BBQ on State Road in Croydon. “I hope in the futurethey will call me.”

Main Line-based director Shyamalan has made four other movies in this region: The Sixth Sense (1998) featured views of Center City; Unbreakable (2000) had scenes in Manayunk; Signs (2002) was shot in the Doylestown area; and The Village (2003) was made in Chester County.

Lady in the Water was the fourth movie project for Trees In Travel L.L.C. in Doylestown. “We have worked for Night on both Signs and The Village,” said co-owner Connie Herrmann.

The company supplied and installed large trees and transplanted existing trees for the sets. For Lady in the Water it moved about 25 large maples, pin oaks and ash trees.

While her Bloomsdale Fleetwing neighbors hope the film company willreach out to them for jobs as extras, Terri Green, 36, hopes for achange in perception.

“Bloomsdale is labeled as a horrible place to live. Now people willknow it is not as bad as the rumors,” she said. “They picked here, andthe cast and crew are all safe. If it was so bad, why would they shoota movie across the street?”

By Mari A. Schaefer

Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer


  1. 🙂 The set is amazing. A few of my friends and I took a trip out (from Harrisburg) to Levittown to check it out a few weeks ago!

  2. That neighborhood IS a horrible place to live and IS as bad as the rumors. Ive lived in bristol/levittown all my life. Bloomsdale is a frequent stain on the community. I myself have been jumped in that area 2 times, and also jumped about a mile away by a large group from there simply because I was white. I can see no other reason as I had no valuables and was fairly young. I said nothing to them I was simply just beaten up while being called racist names. The area is a high crime and drug center. Frequently do large groups move down from bloomsdale into the borough to loot and generally cause trouble. Dont get me wrong i'm glad that Mr.Shyamalan is bringing jobs and the right people into the area, but to claim that its a good area and that the claims about it is just rumors is a blatent lie.

  3. :laughing: yea the set IS pretty nice, i might beat myself up about this later, but: there is NO twist in this movie…oops, ive said to much…

    oh and i love you guys at…unlike other sites everyone here is loyal to me…(ill be posting you guys about once a week)

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