Hot Docs 2021 Review: Rockfield: The Studio on the Farm

Written by Taylor Baker

78/100

Rockfield farm buried in the Welsh countryside slowly changed from a family farm into a family farm and historic studio. The likes of Iggy Pop, Queen, David Bowie, Black Sabbath, Robert Plant, and countless others came to this residential studio space to record albums. It slowly built up a reputation among musicians specifically as the place you record a Rock Album. Perhaps most notably serves as a landmark for where “Wonderwall” was recorded. To this day it remains in the family overseen by Kingsley and Charles Ward and their families.

Primarily presented as a recounting of Kingsley and his family’s recollection of the historic studio’s climb to fame. The artists chiming in from time to time recall Kingsley sometimes fondly, and others as an annoying fly on the wall that wouldn’t take a hint to leave when the artists were attempting to write alone. Rockfield: The Studio on the Farm deftly dances between verbal recountings that are animated in a sort of 2D paper cut out styling and snippets of various talking heads recalling experiences. 

Chris Martin remarks that it’s something of a Musical Hogwarts near the end of the film, a claim that I find rings true. My favorite moments are the allusions and mentions of how the space evolved: which buildings were repurposed as studio and recording space on the farm, which ones used to be where the Pigs or tools were kept. Innovating on a shoestring budget and using empty bags of pig feed to dampen the walls of the first recording studio and the many other various DIY components of Rockfield that reek of imagination and innovation. Rockfield seems to be the fable-like monument of an otherwise quiet town a destination full of secrets, tall tales, and hard work. And I’d be remiss to leave you without mentioning just how clearly spoken Ozzy was in this film. Quite possibly the most eloquent I’ve heard him.

Rockfield: The Studio on the Farm Trailer

Rockfield: The Studio on the Farm screened as part of the Hot Docs 2021 Film Festival.

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