During the past few weeks, I worked on the set of Backmask. This film took place in Exeter, RI, in and around the Ladd Institute. The Opacity web site (http://www.opacity.us/site80_the_ladd_school.htm_) describes the Ladd institute in the following caption:
“At the turn of the twentieth century, institutions for the mentally and physically disabled began to dot the United States, separating them from the psychiatric population residing in the asylums. After the successes of the schools in Massachusetts and Connecticut, it was soon proposed that an institution should be built for the state of Rhode Island in the rural town of Exeter.
The Rhode Island School for the Feeble Minded was founded in 1907 as a farm colony for the residents to work and learn, with Dr. Joseph Ladd as the superintendent. The patient population grew quickly, and in 1909 a dormitory was erected as the other was full; the new building would be for girls only. In 1917 the name of the facility changed to The Exeter School as the term “feeble-minded” (amongst many other medical terms) were becoming objectionable at the time. As the facility grew in size and population, funding became more scarce, and the school began to deteriorate into an overcrowded place to put the state’s unwanted as many other state funded institutions did at the time. In the 1960s the facility had over 1,000 patients, and was re-named the Ladd Center in memory of its first superintendent.
The all too familiar stories of lawsuits and de-institutionalization are found to mark the closing of the Ladd School in the late 1970s. Various organizations helped move their clients from the school to group homes and other places that provide proper care. The facility officially closed its doors in 1994.
A memorial to the patients who have died at the institution stands in a grove of trees near a veterans cemetery”
During the day, this set was just like any other set, with perhaps a few extra bugs. It was extremely hot and sticky – but as an actress, I am used to working in all types of conditions without complaining. I consider myself a profession and it was only until the darkness of night creeped in that the set had a very surreal transformation and I became a bit nervous. Under the blanket of darkness, I couldn’t help but to think that we weren’t supposed to be there and I kept looking through the shattered windows into the black emptiness inside the old red brick structures. The old abandoned buildings seemed to look over us as we acting out our scenes and the graveyard that held the unnamed people who died there was always heavy on my mind. I felt very unwelcome, not because of the other people on set who were very nice and friendly, but I felt like that being there was wrong – like we invaded the place. One of the pictures that was taken on the set I could swear that you can see spirits hovering over the people. Perhaps it is just my overactive imagination – but I wasn’t the only one spooked. I am definitely looking forward to the release of this new horror film and feel that it will be Marcus Nispel’s best movie ever. I don’t think I will be able to watch it by myself without screaming.
Please note that all pictures were provided by the production