PARIS — Director Charles Mehling helped capture the intoxicating spirit of Paris for The Rolling Stones’ new video,Living in the Heart of Love. The track is the first song released off the 40th anniversary edition of the 1981 album "Tattoo You".
The video plays out as a hedonistic rock and roll love story, set in the City of Lights during the wee hours. A group of young people hit the bars and nightclubs, partying until the sun comes up. Its monochromatic pallete serves as an homage to drummer Charlie Watts, who passed away just days after the shoot wrapped.
Mehling and his crew - assembled by executive producers Marieke Tricoire (Womanray Paris) and Olivier Gauriat (Barnstormer Productions) - took a cinéma vérité approach, using gritty, atypical Parisian backdrops and even the director’s own room at Hotel Grand Amour for the interior party shots. Archival footage of the Stones is cleverly interwoven into the scenes as media the partygoers are enjoying via laptops and other outlets.
The edit stays in lockstep with Charlie Watts’ style of drumming, and Mick Jagger suggested the idea of closing the piece with the words “Charlie is My Darling” as a nod to the 1966 Stones documentary of the same name.
“Doing a video for The Rolling Stones was kind of a dream project for me,” says Mehling. “I come from a musical background that the Stones heavily influenced. I was in a band called The Brian Jonestown Massacre, for goodness sake. Funny, the more you connect and are inspired by a project, the less stressed and nervous you are. The decisions becomes more intuitive and fun.”
Mehling admits that he took a chance with the decision to present the piece in black & white.
“In the world of music videos, that is a bit of a risky commitment, as it generally produces a more mature and sometimes dull mood,” he explains.
The project was shot over a day and a half using two Arri Alexa Minis - one operated by DP Martin de Chabaneix and the other on a Steadicam by Jan Rubens.
“Martin de Chabaneix really pushed for using the Red Epic Monochrome, but I chickened out at the last minute, fearful the record label would demand some color,” says Mehling. “Funny, it was the label that kept pushing for more [grit] and grain, fearful of the video becoming too slick and not edgy enough.”
The video was shot anamorphic, a demand that de Chabaneix insisted on.
“I think we used Cooke (lenses),” says Mehling. “(It) looked great, (with) not too much modern light flares, which I’m not a big fan of.”
Rather than shoot from dusk till dawn, the crew sensibly shot the dance club in the afternoon and then shot the sunset for dawn on the terrace of post house Nightshift. The shoot wrapped at 2am with the cafe location. On Day 2, some crew members went out and shot inserts of Paris handheld.
“The edit was a challenge due to Charlie Watts passing away a few days into it,” Mehling recalls. “Luckily I’d decided to take performance bits from the band's previous music videos from the Tattoo You era. After all, this is a track from the 40th-anniversary re-issue of that album. This footage helped to make the project still relevant in such a turbulent and sad moment for the band and their fans.”
On Mick Jagger's request, the final edit tripled the amount of Charlie moments.
“My editor Benjamin Ricart did a great job of really making it feel like the band, and especially Charlie, were actually playing to “Living in the Heart of Love”. I’m happy with the way it all turned out. Considering the changing and eventual sad climax to the project, it was an absolute honor to take part in such an important moment in the career of the greatest rock n’ roll band in the world.”
Alexa Haywood executive produced and Semera Khan served as creative director.