2014. Gap – Dress Normal (series)

David Fincher’s Gap Ads Are Black and White and Enigmatic All Over

Todd Wasserman
August 28, 2014
Mashable

David Fincher, best known for his obsessive and meticulous direction of The Social Network, Zodiac and Fight Club, has helmed the latest round of ads for Gap, which are shot in black and white and strive to be enigmatic.

The four ads, which roll out next week, complement a print campaign the retailer launched in mid-August themed “Dress Normal” that features Anjelica Huston, Elisabeth Moss and The Wire‘s Michael K. Williams, among others.

Seth Farbman, Gap’s global CMO, told Mashable that the tagline was meant to be a “gentle provocation, in a way” and are designed to connected with Millennials who are “pushing back on some of the chaos” in their lives, some of which is driven by technology. “In the fashion world, there’s a trend and a conversation around this idea that’s called normcore,’ he said. “I’m sort of edified in a way to see that there’s a fashion trend that is more extreme but recognizes this same truth. We’re not normcore, but we’re seeing this same truth.”

The Fincher ads were created with that positioning in mind. However, they aren’t anthemic. Instead, they’re a bit cryptic and generate an atmosphere rather than tell a complete story. As Farbman puts it, they sort of jump into the middle of the story, skipping the beginning and leaving out the end:

01. Kiss

It’s not unusual for Fincher to ask for more than 50 takes of a single shot. In this case, Farbman says, multiple takes meant the actor’s coarse beard hair was chafing the actress’ skin. The solution was to shave him down and replace the beard with fake, softer material. The ad also contains some misdirection: At first you think the woman in the ad might be looking at someone who is coming down the stairs, but she’s actually checking herself out in the mirror. It’s also obvious that the guy’s passion for the woman is fairly unrequited.

02. Stairs

The actor here had to run 50 or 60 times up those stairs. (Farbman said actors were asked to run 10 minutes as part of their audition.) The video was shot overnight at Pasadena’s city hall and Fincher created a new camera out of carbon fiber to track the actor as he ran up the stairs. The shirt at the end, by the way, is the man’s. On first viewing, many people assume it’s the woman’s.

03. Drive

This ad is full of intrigue: Why is this woman all wet? Why is she taking off her jeans? Why are the people in the front seat smirking? Farbman says the main actress in this ad initially came off as too cheery. “Every single take she had to get re-wet,” Farbman says. “[Fincher] kept saying ‘Stop smiling!'”

04. Golf

“It’s very free form. The woman is dancing to her own drummer and obviously wants to get some attention from the guy, but he’s trying not to look,” says Farbman. This ad was shot overnight at City of Industry in Los Angeles. The actor taking the swings was actually a good golfer, Farbman says. “This guy was hitting 300 yards straight and nailing it every time,” says Farbman. “We made sure we got a long shot.”

Credits

CompanyGap
  
Advertising AgencyWieden+Kennedy New York
Executive Creative DirectorsSusan Hoffman
 David Kolbusz
Creative DirectorsStuart Jennings
 Susan Hoffman
CopywriterSheena Brady
Art DirectorKim Haxton
Head of Content ProducerNick Setounski
Executive ProducerAlison Hill
ProducerLisa Delonay
Brand StrategistsErik Hanson
 Hayley Parker
Account TeamTamera Geddes
 Dipal Shah
 Patty Ehinger
Business AffairsLisa Quintela
  
DirectorDavid Fincher
  
Director of PhotographyJeff Cronenweth
  
Production DesignerDonald Graham Burt
  
StylistTrish Summerville
  
Production CompanyReset
Managing Director / OwnerDave Morrison
Executive ProducerJeff McDougall
Line ProducerLaura Miller
  
Editorial CompanyWork Editorial Inc.
EditorKirk Baxter
Assistant EditorsNate Gross
 Mike Horan
 Billy Peake
Post ProducerSari Resnick
Post Executive ProducerErica Thompson
  
VFX CompanyThe Mill LA / The Mill NY
Senior Executive ProducerSue Troyan
Producer (LA)Dan Roberts
Producer (NY)Clairellen Wallin
Production CoordinatorJillian Lynes
Creative DirectorTim Davies
2D Lead ArtistsTim Davies
 James Allen
2D Artists (LA)Robert Murdock
 Tara Demarco
 Timothy Crabtree
 Jale Parsons
2D Artists (NY)Brandon Danowski
 Jamin Clutcher
  
DI ServicesLight Iron
ColoristIan Vertovec. Light Iron
  
Audio Post Production CompanySound Lounge
Sound DesignerTom Jucarone
Sound MixerTom Jucarone
ProducerVicky Ferraro
  
Kiss MusicDavid Holmes – Kiss
Stairs MusicSons of Kemet – Inner Babylon (written by Shabaka Hutchings)
Drive MusicMartial Solal – L’amour, La Mort
Golf MusicEddie Ray – Wait a Minute

Kiss Cast

GirlDiana Georgie
GuyZachary Mooren

Drive Cast

Male PassengerTim Ahrens

Golf Cast

Dancing GirlCharlbi Dean Kriek
GolferChris Pinkalla

Technical Specifications

Runtime30 s
  
Aspect Ratio2.20:1
  
AcquisitionDigital
ColorBlack and White
  
CameraRED Epic-M Monochrome

Production Details

CountryUSA
  
Kiss Filming LocationsLos Angeles
Stairs Filming LocationsPasadena City Hall. Pasadena, California
Drive Filming LocationsLos Angeles
Golf Filming LocationsCity of Industry, California
  
Release DateSeptember 28, 2014

Ian Vertovec, Supervising Colorist at Light Iron
March 17, 2019
Instagram

Black halation effect here emulating the old television kinescope look, using a luma key.

Tim Davies and James Allen, 2D Lead Artists
The Mill

David is a perfectionist so there was no surprise that the elements he delivered to us were amazing. The ‘Drive‘ spot was shot on stage against black, so we needed to add in the backgrounds to each scene which were meticulously filmed with the correct lenses with the right focal length. We roto’d the people and then restored the reflections back over the plates, making it look as seamless as possible.

Tom Jucarone, Sound Designer and Sound Mixer
medium.com

If you watch those spots, there was no sound originally. It was going to be just a music track but now most of them have everything sounded out now. The only one that doesn’t have a lot was the one with the guy running up and down the stairs, because the music really carried that.

It was a different approach and they came to us and said, “Well, now we want to try this with all the sound.” They handed it to us and we had to have people make sounds to follow all of the people in the spot. We didn’t use everything but we had to create it, and then we could play with it.