Synopsis of – If Walls Could Talk. A documentary film about the romanticism of dry stone walling in Derbyshire. The documentary isn’t a how-to guide but an in-depth documentary on the dry stone wallers themselves, the techniques used and how a dry stone wall can help date the landscape.
Dry stone walling isn’t a boring subject like many would think, it’s an art form and Derbyshire is the canvas. Visitors from all over the world come to Derbyshire and I would like to think they would go away with memories of the beautiful imagery of the county and its distinct drystone walls prominent in the landscape.
The documentary running time is 40 minutes and feature interviews with actual Derbyshire dry stone wallers who talk about the real power of working with stone, the holistic value of working with the outdoor elements as well as the sense of pride knowing a wall could quite possibly stand for two hundred years or more. Featuring members from The National Stone Centre and Derbyshire branch of National Drystone Walling Association of Great Britain, who have a wealth of experience in this ancient craft.
The documentary was shot using a Blackmagic cinema camera and drone aerial photography over six weekends in 2017 with a small crew of six friends who studied or trained and enjoy filmmaking. With the initial research starting in 2015 by producer and director Roland Keates, the story started to unfold to a fascinating insight into a subject which people walk past and take for granted.
Funding for the documentary came from one source, Roland Keates. After asking the local council and other government and private companies for help with no success, Roland worked more hours, so he could fund and take full control of the project. “Making heritage films, you don’t expect to get your money back, but I am happy to make them for posterity.”
This documentary was initially made so everyone could appreciate the beauty and history of dry stone walling which Roland Keates has come to appreciate and enjoy. “I didn’t want the documentary just to be made, I wanted it to be watched and the viewer to come away knowing this is a dying craft, which should be respected and not pushed over.”
Dry stone walls in Derbyshire are a constant in our diverse landscape that has stood the tests of time, the elements and the changing seasons. They are steeped in history and tradition and have witnessed countless changes of rule, battles and the turn of centuries.
If only they could talk, what tales could they share! Some of their secrets are only uncovered when they crumble and a lucky (or not so lucky) dry stone waller happens to spot them when rebuilding a wall.
Now, these secrets are uncovered in “If Walls Could Talk”, a 40-minute documentary shot by local filmmaker Roland Keates. He picks up on the stories from the hardened dry stone wallers of Derbyshire branch of National Drystone Walling Association of Great Britain, who dedicate themselves to rebuilding, the crumbling past and building sculptured works of art of Andy Goldsworthy.
Roland found how these walls can talk, you just have to listen to them as they are the foundations of old farming methods lost to maps and minds.
This documentary is not just for the local people of Derbyshire, it’s a journey of discovering the beautiful landscape of Derbyshire and witnessing through Roland’s eyes how research, hard work and a strong commitment to publicise the history and heritage doesn’t need to be in history books on a dusty shelf.
“If Walls Could Talk” is a 40-minute documentary film which tells the stories of dry stone walls in Derbyshire; how, why and where they were built and exploring how these walls can communicate the quirky tales of what is hidden inside and beyond.
The documentary is highly visual, letting the story and history of dry stone walls unfold using drone footage and steady camera work which ultimately showcases the beautiful imagery of Derbyshire Peaks and Dales.
The documentary was produced and directed by Roland Keates together with highly able, dedicated team and the cooperation of The National Stone Centre and Derbyshire branch of National Drystone Walling Association of Great Britain.
Watch the full film here