Filming of “Press” promotional video

Monday, June 16, 1986

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About

Ever alert to the public mood, Paul realised that people were getting increasingly fed up with grandiose, costly videos which do nothing but distract from the songs they are supposed to illustrate. Scratching his head for a worthwhile alternative, our man came up with the brilliantly simple scheme of going down onto a London tube train to capture the passengers’ reaction to an impromptu McCartney performance. As with many simple ideas, careful planning was required to put this one into practice: which is where video director Phil Davie came in.

Fond of saying that he’s worked “with everyone from The Clash to Dudley Moore”, Phil’s track record also encompasses Big Country, The Moody Blues and Whitesnake, to name but three more. “This one was memorable because of who it was. Paul was self-conscious at first, but he soon relaxed — the mad people who got into it helped.”

Much of Phil’s planning was taken up with what to do if people became too mad: “If people gather round on the tube, it’s difficult to move them away, though the noise of the tube meant people at the other end of the carriage wouldn’t hear. We used the busiest stations as people are usually only on for two or three stops, also because the names of the stations are known worldwide. There was a chap with a radio telephone and cabs waiting at several stations for the first hour, in case things got out of control.”

Were there technical problems with filming underground?

“We used no lighting, just what was available on the tube — we’d done a test a few days before. We filmed on the Central and Jubilee Lines, going as far as Mile End and North Finchley. It took four hours, so we got our 60p’s worth!”

Was permission needed?

“We didn’t bother to ask. If you go through the proper channels, you generally get turned down. It was as low key as possible, so the extra loaders and assistants at various stations had rucksacks in case they should be in shot. The sync system (to synchronise music and movement) was disguised as a ghetto blaster in an Adidas holdall with holes in it. There were two camera bodies, so one lens could be changed when the camera wasn’t in use. In fact, both were often used simultaneously.”

That’s how “Press” added a remarkable page to Phil Davie’s portfolio. Personally, we found the background details almost as stimulating as watching the video: we hope that you agree.

From Club Sandwich N°42, Autumn 1986

Last updated on April 26, 2020

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