Filming of the “Only Love Remains” promotional video

November 17th-19th, 1986

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From Club Sandwich N°43, Winter 1986/1987:

For many people, ‘Only Love Remains’ is the classic, traditional McCartney item on Press To Play. As Paul himself says, “I like the quiet moment, and this song is that reflective moment“. Certainly, it’s hardly a candidate for the flashier kind of video treatment.

Director Maurice Phillips felt this too. Having directed videos by Billy Ocean, the Thompson Twins, Joe Cocker and Tom Robinson, he had just finished a feature film (The American Way, with Dennis Hopper and Michael J. Pollard) and had listened closely to both versions of the song.

The single mix is very different, especially with the sax added. I felt the video should reflect the simplicity of the song, so it was filmed in one continuous shot -the first time I’ve ever done this. There were no edits or special effects, only a fade-up at the beginning and fade-out at the end.

The whole thing took three days (17th-19th November) at D Stage, Pinewood Studios. What were the special advantages of filming there?

We needed a big stage; I’d done commercials there before.

As the song opens, Paul is spotlit at the piano, the other musicians and singers in the dark. (Included are Eric Stewart, Graham Ward and Nick Glennie-Smith from the Press To Play sessions and Tessa Miles, Vicki Brown, Preston Hayman and Jamie Talbot.) Linda, harmonizing at the piano, and the others are lit up one by one; then a living room appears, “suspended from the ceiling”, containing Gordon Jackson of Upstairs Downstairs fame and the lovely Pauline Yates, best known as the long-suffering wife of TV’s Reggie Perrin. (“They represent Paul and Linda twenty years on.“) Gordon sings along on the second verse, Gavin Wright and the 19-piece Astarte Session Orchestra appear behind the couple and sax player Jamie Talbot walks the stage, followed by a blue light.

Then, after a quick costume change, it’s Paul and Linda who occupy the room.

Soon, the camera homes in on Linda, allowing Paul to slip away, change back into his original clothes and run to the piano for the finale, when the entire band and singers are lit and Jamie goes walkabout again.

What are the technical demands of this ‘one-shot’ method of filming?

It’s a tall order as everything must be perfectly ‘choreographed’. We spent Monday and Tuesday rehearsing the cameras, lighting, costume changes etc., then shooting was done on Wednesday – in 24 takes. As well as those being filmed, there were about 100 people behind the camera to be synchronized too. The video for ‘When The Going Gets Tough’ was also pretty ‘live’, but this one was more abstract.

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