Institute20th September 2022
We’re excited to announce If These Walls Could Sing, Mary McCartney’s new Disney Original Documentary on Abbey Road Studios is coming to Disney Plus on 16 December after making its debut at Telluride Film Festival.The culmination of years of research, the film is Mary’s personal love letter to a place which not only fostered her dad’s creative work, but also countless numbers of the most talented artists from around the globe.
Featuring stories from the likes of Jimmy Page, Kate Bush, Noel Gallagher, John Williams, Celeste, Elton John, Giles Martin, Shirley Bassey, Liam Gallagher, Pink Floyd and Paul McCartney.
If These Walls Could Sing is a passionate account of the world’s first purpose-built recording studio spanning 91 years. From our beginnings recording the greats of classical music, to hosting dance hall and big band stars, witnessing the birth of British rock & roll, producing a prolific string of hits in the 1960s, facilitating Oscar-winning film scores and seeing the rise of hip-hop idols. Mary’s film brings to life the magic that continues to echo within the walls of No. 3 Abbey Road.
“I want to make it an emotional experience as a documentary, rather than doing all the historical points. I didn't want it to feel like a lesson. I really, really hope the viewer falls in love with it.
Yes, there were some tense moments, or they're talking about some creative differences, or sometimes maybe they were a bit naughty in the studios. But I think ultimately there's a real love for the place. And I find that really interesting that people feel that way about a building still.”
- Mary McCartney in Vanity Fair
Mary's initial inspiration for the film was an image of her mother and father walking across the zebra crossing in 1977. Watch Paul McCartney relive the moment in this clip from the film:
“Abbey Road Studios have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I grew up around the corner and have early memories of going to visit my parents while they were recording. The studios felt like a family. The people who worked there had also grown up there, staying years to be trained and nurtured by the generation above them. This family had also produced the music I loved; iconic, original, pioneering records that have inspired and moved me and millions of others.
A photograph of my mum leading our pony Jet across Abbey Road’s zebra crossing sparked these memories again. Walking by the studios and watching people gather on the crossing to have their photos taken, people who had made the journey from all over the world, made me realize the significance of Abbey Road. There is something truly special about this place; it is much more than a building — it’s a shrine to creative, original thinkers and a treasure-trove of stories.
I have always been drawn back to the studios, and when Abbey Road opened its archives — a huge collection of stills, session tapes and footage — this film began. Covering 90 years of recordings, I realized I could never include everything. I looked to find moments where artists felt comfortable to dare to push themselves and create something new. I knew Abbey Road was a trailblazing institution, but I wanted to really unpack why and how and find emotional, personal moments of self-belief and creativity.
This process surprised and revealed so much. I was familiar with the ‘60s recordings, The Beatles of course, but filling in the gaps revealed immense breadth and diversity and how each period of music built upon the next, paving the way for the next generation to continue to push the envelope. From Elgar to Shirley Bassey to Ye, I found each artist embraced the space, its staff, equipment and possibilities in their own way, with an awareness of what came before and a desire to push further. I had always seen instruments lying around in the corridors, and my dad had told me stories about how the Beatles would pull in anything lying around to use on their recordings, like the comedy sound effects cupboard. But looking at Abbey Road’s history in detail, the cumulative effect of the studio’s building on its music history was astounding.
As a photographer, I wanted to capture the spirit of the studios visually. Being able to invite artists back to the space created intimate, emotional interviews and revealed so much for me and the subject. While gathering memories, I wanted to open the studio up to people who had never had the chance to experience it. I see this film as an opportunity to make the magic of the world’s most famous studio accessible to engage with a younger audience and surprise people.
Abbey Road was a space I thought I knew, but I continue to discover new things every time I go in. For me, this process has underlined why shared creative spaces like Abbey Road Studios matter. I hope this film will carry that message.”
– Mary McCartney, September 2022If These Walls Could Sing played for the first time on 3 September to a packed Sheridan Opera House in Telluride, Colorado and will be released in select theatres and on Disney Plus on 16 December.
The film was produced by John Battsek (One Day in September, Searching for Sugar Man), Sarah Thompson (The Australian Dream) and Miles Coleman (head of development for If These Walls Could Sing) of Ventureland and executive produced by Alice Webb and Marc Robinson of Mercury Studios and Kerstin Emhoff and Ali Brown of Ventureland.
Watch the official trailer below:
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