David Fincher’s Gap Ads Are Black and White and Enigmatic All Over
August 28, 2014
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:
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.
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.
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!'”
“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.”
|Advertising Agency||Wieden+Kennedy New York|
|Executive Creative Directors||Susan Hoffman|
|Creative Directors||Stuart Jennings|
|Art Director||Kim Haxton|
|Head of Content Producer||Nick Setounski|
|Executive Producer||Alison Hill|
|Brand Strategists||Erik Hanson|
|Account Team||Tamera Geddes|
|Business Affairs||Lisa Quintela|
|Director of Photography||Jeff Cronenweth|
|Production Designer||Donald Graham Burt|
|Managing Director / Owner||Dave Morrison|
|Executive Producer||Jeff McDougall|
|Line Producer||Laura Miller|
|Editorial Company||Work Editorial Inc.|
|Assistant Editors||Nate Gross|
|Post Producer||Sari Resnick|
|Post Executive Producer||Erica Thompson|
|VFX Company||The Mill LA / The Mill NY|
|Senior Executive Producer||Sue Troyan|
|Producer (LA)||Dan Roberts|
|Producer (NY)||Clairellen Wallin|
|Production Coordinator||Jillian Lynes|
|Creative Director||Tim Davies|
|2D Lead Artists||Tim Davies|
|2D Artists (LA)||Robert Murdock|
|2D Artists (NY)||Brandon Danowski|
|DI Services||Light Iron|
|Colorist||Ian Vertovec. Light Iron|
|Audio Post Production Company||Sound Lounge|
|Sound Designer||Tom Jucarone|
|Sound Mixer||Tom Jucarone|
|Kiss Music||David Holmes – Kiss|
|Stairs Music||Sons of Kemet – Inner Babylon (written by Shabaka Hutchings)|
|Drive Music||Martial Solal – L’amour, La Mort|
|Golf Music||Eddie Ray – Wait a Minute|
|Male Passenger||Tim Ahrens|
|Dancing Girl||Charlbi Dean Kriek|
|Color||Black and White|
|Camera||RED Epic-M Monochrome|
|Kiss Filming Locations||Los Angeles|
|Stairs Filming Locations||Pasadena City Hall. Pasadena, California|
|Drive Filming Locations||Los Angeles|
|Golf Filming Locations||City of Industry, California|
|Release Date||September 28, 2014|
Black halation effect here emulating the old television kinescope look, using a luma key.
Tim Davies and James Allen, 2D Lead Artists
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
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.