In the second The North Face X Gucci collaboration, Highsnobiety partnered with Black Dog Films’ director Tom Dream to create a campaign that caused quite the social media stir. When Francis Bourgeois popped up, positive reactions were shared across Instagram, Twitter and TikTok, the collection was even shared on HYPEBEAST and across several fashion magazines.
Tom shares how the team went full steam ahead with the project, even discussing the best train to use with Francis and ensuring everyone was on board with the concept. Francis has advocated the stereotypically ‘uncool’ hobby he gained while living in London’s Wilsden Junction. Sharing his posts onto the social media platform TikTok, Francis has sparked a new generation of trainspotting enthusiasts who commented ‘no niche is too small’ as they watched the campaign.
Tom spoke to LBB’s Nisna Mahtani about his determination to shoot on 16mm film, being on set for the shortest day of the year and the post production process that brought the campaign all the warmth it needed.
LBB> What were the initial conversations surrounding the launch of the second The North Face X Gucci collection and what was the premise of Highsnobiety’s involvement in the campaign?
Tom> I had a call with Josh Wilson and Sian O’Flaherty to discuss the creative concept they had developed at Highsnobiety, and was really excited to contribute as there were so many elements of the project that resonated with me.
LBB> Once you heard the brief, what was something you were eager to incorporate within the campaign and why?
Tom> I love to think about music and sound design early in the development process, so I began researching steam whistle organs and synthesised train sounds to incorporate into a composition. I was also determined to shoot on 16mm film, despite apparent shortages, as I knew the whole concept of controlled chaos would lend itself so well to the format. I was over the moon when my producer, Ghandi El-Chamaa, found film stock.
LBB> What was Francis like to work with? Any moments that you’ll remember from your time with him?
Tom> Francis was an absolute pleasure to work with. We spent a day together before the shoot discussing the whole concept, what train he thought would work best for the film and how we could best create this whimsical Alpine train world.
Francis, Josh and I sat in the hotel bar the night before playing that game from school where someone draws a head, someone draws a body and someone else draws the legs - ‘head body legs’ I think it’s called. I still have the artwork and intend to frame it.
LBB> How long did the film take to create?
Tom> We only had a week to get everything together before the shoot, so I have to thank my producer Ghandi El-Chamaa and the team at Black Dog Films and Highsnobiety for helping pull it all together in time. Also, special mention to the art director Clarisse D’Arcimoles and her incredible team. They made absolute magic happen in such a short timeframe, and I was so happy with the level of detail in the production design, it makes such a massive difference on the day.
LBB> Let’s talk editing and grading. The campaign video is shot to feel nostalgic, with the classic grainy texture of the past - how did you achieve this during filming and post production?
Tom> We shot on 16mm film on 500T stock due to the limited amount of available light, as we filmed on the shortest day of the year in overcast conditions. This gave it a wonderfully textured and timeless look, which I love about 16mm. Megan Lee at ETC did a beautiful job adding warmth and hope to the final film, as the tungsten stock and blue weather needed a lot of balancing out!
LBB> So far, the campaign has gained a lot of social media attention. Have you seen or heard of any particularly memorable reactions?
Tom> I think I like Glenn Kitson’s David Bowie meme the best. And @loveofhuns_tv shared something too. I’m not sure I’ll ever tap into this broad audience again, it really is one for everyone.
LBB> The campaign has a very fun feel to it, can you tell us about any funny or interesting behind the scenes moments that happened during the shoot?
Tom> Thanks! We wanted to establish a feeling that the whole set was moving the whole time, which involved some careful choreography by movement director Ted Rogers.
To get this right it was important to keep a positive energy on set and make sure everyone felt valued and confident to contribute creatively. I regularly collaborate with Ted to help establish and maintain this atmosphere - it’s something we talk about a lot and want to explore further with each project.