This is what happens during a New York City heat wave - temperatures rise, tensions escalate and 3000 kids run amok in 41 inches of tepid water at a local city pool.

Produced, directed and edited by Sam Griffin

The Pool Documentary - Overview

"The Pool" is a character-driven, verite-style documentary that, through the point of view of park employee and ex-convict Vernon Gowdy, chronicles a day at a New York City public swimming pool.

Gowdy, who never thought “in a thousand million years” that he would get a job as a city employee, leaves his Bronx apartment at 4am each morning for his job on the Lower East Side. He’s making every effort to leave the past behind and create a better life for himself, “I can cross my legs and pop my collar, I don’t have to worry about no po-lice on the sideline when I’m at the light. . . that’s the only police contact I’m going to have.”

The Pool Documentary - Character Overview

Other characters include Pool Manager, Sal Oddo, (casting directors would say Dennis Farina-meets-George Clooney) who is proud and protective of what he calls “a little oasis on the Lower East Side. Twenty-something Omar Malcolm once had dreams of the N.B.A. but instead pulls on a bullet-proof vest each day before taking up his post at the pool gate, as a Parks Enforcement officer.

Throughout the day early-bird swimmers, summer camp kids and residents of a local shelter for homeless disabled people use the pool. For local kids whose only idea of water sports would be a fire hydrant, the city pool is a blessing.

The Pool Documentary - Filmmaking Process

The Pool was shot over the course of the summer, but edited to represent one typical sweltering day. The filmmakers were granted unprecedented access to Hamilton Fish Pool on the Lower East Side by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.

The Pool Documentary - Production Biographies

Producer/ Director/ Editor: Sam Griffin

Sam Griffin has worked in television as a producer/director for 10 years and regularly reports on international style from New York, Milan and Paris. She was the Senior Producer of the “The World Fashion Tour with Elsa Klensch” that aired on Trio Popular Arts Channel as well as the documentary series, “The Designers”. She regularly works as a producer with RipFest, a not-for-profit organization that works with artists in multiple disciplines. This is her first full-length documentary.

Cinematographer: Roger Mendoza

Roger Mendoza was a producer/shooter/editor for In the Mix, a program aimed at teens that aired on PBS. He also works frequently with Global Nomads Group (GNG) a not-for-profit organization that brings young people together through video-conferences to bridge cultural and national boundaries.

The Pool Documentary - Links

A comprehensive history of the Park & Pool by Frederique Krupa:

The reopening of Hamilton Fish Pool in 1992:

Hamilton Fish Park today – official NYC Dept of Parks and Recreation site:

Hamilton Fish voted best public Pool in NYC by Village Voice:

A photo exhibition of the history of NYC public pools

Information on Hamilton Fish, (1808 – 1893)