Under The Volcano, A Film About AIR Studios Montserrat, To Premiere At SXSW in March

Chillin' poolside after a recording session. (UTV Promo photo)

In 2021 working remotely has become the new normal, but for locals on the small Caribbean island of Montserrat, the concept of persons leaving the hustle and bustle of city life to work from an exotic location, has been around since the 1980s. It all began, when the late Sir George Martin (often referred to as the fifth Beatle) built a musical outpost called AIR Studios Montserrat, where the who’s who of top musicians recorded hit albums throughout the decade.

“I fell in love with Montserrat and decided to build the ultimate get-away-from-it-all recording studio”, which offered “all of the technical facilities of its London predecessor, but with the advantages of an exotic location”, states Sir George Martin on the official AIR Studios website.

Rush Films has now immortalised the story of AIR Studios Montserrat, by turning it into a music documentary called ‘Under The Volcano’.  The film that was directed by Gracie Otto and produced by Cody Greenwood has been selected to make its world premiere at the virtual South by SouthWest Film Festival (SXSW) in March.

Danny Sweeney stands outside his bar in Salem (UTV Promo photo)

Under the Volcano is a celebration of the creative process, and tells the story of the recording studio that was at the centre of the pop world in the 1980s. In the shadow of an active volcano, the studio not only attracted the biggest musical talent on the planet including: The Police, Paul McCartney, Duran Duran, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Earth Wind and Fire and the Dire Straits, but it was also the birthplace of hits songs that defined the sound of the 80s. The film features interviews from the likes of Sting and Mark Knopfler, as well as personal archives from artists such as Sir Paul McCartney and Stewart Copeland.

For a decade, AIR Montserrat formed the backdrop to monumental events in music history including the break-up of The Police, the reunion of The Rolling Stones, and the reinvigoration of Paul McCartney after the tragic murder of John Lennon. After a decade of hits, and at the peak of its popularity, the studio was destroyed when the island was hit by a series of devastating natural disasters.

Like many other festivals, SXSW is moving digital this year and will take place March 16 – March 20, 2021. Featuring provocative dramas and documentaries, the SXSW Film Festival has become known for the high calibre and diversity of films presented.

Cody Greenwood – ‘We are thrilled to be included alongside a stellar line-up of local and international films at SXSW. The festival is universally recognised for its music documentaries, so to have Under The Volcano premiere at this festival is a huge honour. Our whole team worked tremendously hard to pull the film together and I can’t wait for it to be shared with audiences’.

Film producers Gracie Otto and Cody Greenwood (UTV Promo photo)

SXSW is universally recognized for its music festival so it’s no surprise that the film program each year showcases films that pay homage to musicians. There’s an entire category dedicated to these films called ’24 Beats Per Second’ and Under The Volcano will be playing as part of this section of the festival.

Featured speakers for the SXSW 2021 line-up include Sir Richard Branson, Matthew McConaughey, Nicholas Britell, Dave Burd (aka Lil Dicky), The Chainsmokers, Samantha Bee, Chiquis, Laurieann Gibson, Taraji P. Henson, Barry Jenkins, Queen Latifah and LL COOL J.

Gracie Otto – ‘I’ve always been fascinated by the inner workings of creative artists and the artistic process. Even more so whilst researching and interviewing some of the greatest recording artists of our time for this film. Collectively they have created an unprecedented body of work behind the closed doors of AIR Studios and documenting this process was a pure joy. The significance of AIR Studios and its isolation feels even more timely given the current state of the world. We are so excited to share this film with audiences during SXSW.’

The announcement of the world premiere of Under The Volcano is extremely timely indeed, as Montserrat has recently launched its Remote Workers Stamp. The 12 month Remote Workers Stamp allows professionals and their families to work safely and remotely from Montserrat. If an individual is applying on their own the fees is USD$500 and if they are accompanied by up to 3 dependants, then the fee is USD$750. Individuals seeking to take advantage of the 12-month Montserrat Remote Worker Stamp must also have valid medical insurance and they must be earning a minimum of USD$70,000 annually.

Montserrat is a UK Overseas Territory, who receives aid from the United Kingdom, but with the global COVID-19 pandemic affecting the economies worldwide, the new Remote Workers Stamp and the world premiere of ‘Under The Volcano’ would help the country to recover some of the revenue loss experienced since its tourism industry came to a standstill at the end of March 2020.