The self-initiated feel-good project
Inspired by the many charity on the streets of London City, and after seeing the documentary 'Alive inside - A story of music & memory' (available on Netflix), we decided to start a creative project of our own. The documentary shows people suffering from Alzheimer's, and how researchers discovered that listening to music from periods in their lives brought back very vivid, accurate memories of that time. Music has been proven to be a key to brain diseases such as Alzheimer's. This fact inspired us to the birth of our project: producing a calendar with 12 remakes of famous album covers. Our drive was to donate a nice amount of money to Alzheimer Nederland to stimulate research, and to capture the chemistry of people brought together to co-create this initiative with us.
Coordination: models, locations, styling, and props.
Art direction: set materials, attributes, equipment, and guiding on photography.
Photography: the remakes and editing.
Graphic design: editing images for album cover, calendar lay-out, package for sending, and website for ordering.
Account management: project discounts of printing press and web development.
Promotion by social media: behind the scenes, banners, and video.
Administration: for sales and transport express delivery.
Sales within social circle
To manage within a limited time frame (starting in October and ending in December), the calendar is only sold in social circles to personal and business contacts. Advertisement on Facebook has been done by us the producers, models who volunteered, and Alzheimer Nederland. Also friends, family, and even business clients who spread the love made it a fantastic, feel good, heart-warming project that resulted in a nice donation. Our goal was to encourage further research into the treatment of patients and their loved ones living with Alzheimer's, and this has been achieved.
A website with easy to remember domain name www.charity2017.nl has been developed to enable a central ordering process. In addition to the most important ordering function, the site provided background information on the Alzheimer subject, a preview of the original documentary, the making of of all the remakes, and a promotional video.
To the remakes
This has undoubtedly been the most time-pressured project of the year. 12 album covers were selected on criteria such as fame, appeal, feasibility and creative challenge. For each of them a friend or acquaintance, being competible with some features of the artist, was approached to model for a specific cover. They all showed great willingness and have voluntarily offered their contribution by being model: "Anything for the good cause" is what we often heard. This resulted in a final selection of album covers consisting of 2 outdoor locations and 10 indoor studio photo shoots. For some curiosity about the photo shoots and production: view the making of images per album below.
Adele - 21 (2011)
The first studio photo shoot has been a tribute to Adele's successful second album '21', famous for hit singles like 'Someone Like You', 'Rolling in the deep' and 'Turning Tables'. For this remake it has been all about capturing the sensitive emotion on the face by a close-up portrait photo. We discovered that it is not so much about having the exact same position of face and hand, but that it is more about the reflection of the right emotion. It resulted in this final image selection for the album cover. This album cover was the first to be promoted on Facebook.
2Pac - All Eyez On Me (1996)
Cover for February is 2Pac's third album 'All Eyez On Me', yet the first one recorded at Death Row Records. Although not of undisputed behavior, we did think an icon for Rap and Hip-Hop should be on the calendar. We were lucky that Sacha's upstairs neighbour had a number of similar visual characteristics, and found it a pleasure to cooperate. The photo shoot in the studio consisted of having 'our' Tupac Shakur practice with the 'West Coast' symbol with his right hand while also having the half-wink of the eyes. Special props were ordered in stores selling party items for fake jewelry and tattoos. And indeed all 6 characters that spell 'Outlaw' on the left arm have been ordered.
Whitney Houston - I'm Your Baby Tonight (1990)
When getting to the cover for month March, we recognized our own Whitney in a befriended business contact. The album contains the hit singles 'I'm your baby tonight' and 'All the man that I need'. We were excited to have the first external photo shoot for the calendar. The original cover was shot at a Los Angeles skyline and having Whitney Houston sitting on a chopper motor. Our alternative became a parking deck in the city centre of Utrecht, with the support and permission of the owning company. A Honda SS50 replaced the original chopper, and although a bit chilly in November on the top deck, the shoot resulted in a much loved cover remake.
Elvis Presley - Jailhouse Rock (1957)
For the cover of April we reached the first soundtrack out of two. It has also been the first cover to be a compilation of both front and back side. Our consideration was that it had more iconic appeal, contributed to recognition and that it did not harm the overall look & feel of the album. Our Elvis Presley model took an impressive number of exercises to master the original stand-up jump, and furthermore the amount of brillance gel used to style the typical hair pick of the 1950s was immeasurable.
Pulp Fiction - Soundtrack (1994)
The undeniable winner of all remakes has been the soundtrack of Pulp Fiction. When arranging the calendar, we have considered different music styles, a balance of female and male artists, color and black and white, indoor and outdoor locations, but also the 'hit factor'. That being said, we agreed on this one thing: the calendar was in need of one babe to cover a month. Grabbing the phone, calling a dear friend and opening with the following line: 'You are a babe, right? We're in need of a babe on the calendar' made it all happen. Not only Pulp Fiction the movie hit the charts, the soundtrack was mind-blowing too with new approaches like recorded dialogues of the movie and an awesome selection of retro music. The set design activities involved preparing many props, styling the model, and positioning of the model, light and objects in a right manner. We had tremendous fun creating this remake, and no other album cover has exceeded the number of likes on Facebook.
Prince and The Revolution - Parade (1986)
The very first remake produced has been for Prince and The Revolution with 'Parade'. This album is most famous for the songs 'Kiss' and 'Mountains'. We decided this cover could well be done by a woman, as this makes sense with the androgynous person Roger Nelson himself was. This first remake also served as a demo, to show participating models a gleam of the idea, photographic quality and final result. The preparations for this cover were relatively easy, as it had been mostly about sewing the iconic top shirt with knots and make-up styling. The holding of arms and hands seem easy, but turned out to be not.
Erykah Badu - See You Next Lifetime (1997)
For July a remake of the hit single 'See you next lifetime' cover from Erykah Bady has been made. It was the second liberty we took, after Jailhouse Rock, because this cover is not actually of an album but only from a single. Yet it is very iconic for Erykah Badu, which is why we choose to do this. Creating the cotton wrap and it's filling and ring prop were most challenging for this remake.
Buena Vista Social Club (2015)
The remake of 'Buena Vista Social Club' and its same titled album was a real challenge in terms of contrasting locations. The shoot was our second outdoor location, taking place in December in The Netherlands - a bigger contrast with tropical Cuba is hardly imaginable. Preparations were to shop for similar clothes and scouting for the right locations with a right setting for natural sunlight. The shoot has been postponed once due to weather circumstances, so this fnal day was cold but with a very satifying result. We discovered that for recognition it wasn't so much about the exact same street perspective or sun-overloaded sky, but more about an overall similar look and feel to it.
Kate Bush - The Kick Inside (1978)
The remake of Kate Bush' debut album 'The Kick Inside' was one our most creative highlights. Initially this album cover was not planned, but because the dropping out of another cover it came to our mind in second instance, when searching our minds for somebody who could make a good match for Kate. The album did cross our minds at an earlier stage, but was considered less feasible for creating its attributes and trapezium. We were lucky that our aquaintant was gifted with garment skills of her own, so while we were focusing on constructing the trapezium she had prepared the outfit. Imitating the pose of the album had caused some stiff muscles the next day, but both the graciousness of the model and the creativity to approach the decor made this remake a success. Graphical editing of the final cover hit the most time spent of all remakes.
André Hazes - Live In Het Concertgebouw Amsterdam (1982)
In addition to knowing we just had got to have at least one artist to cover for Hip Hop, being in need of at least one very babe, we also realized we needed one tear-jacker artist from Dutch soil on the calendar. The king of kitsch piece songs is without a doubt André Hazes. We were lucky to know somebody willing to model for him, and we had the greatest fun shooting this on an actual pop stage.
Elvis Costello - This Year's Model (1978)
The photographer of the project decided to model himself too for one album covers, and appropriately choose for 'This Year's Model' of Elvis Costello. Completely by his own hand and controlled by a remote control, we found this album cover to be a nice hook for both the concept and his own role in producing of the calendar.
Fleetwood Mac - Rumours (1977)
Next to Pulp Fiction, this album has been the most popular cover of the calendar: the historic and iconic 'Rumours' of Fleetwood Mac. The duo-act gave a playful dynamic which one could sense on the set of shooting, but was also to be sensed on the eventual printed calendar. Exercising the right positions of even two people at the same time doubled all of our efforts, but the tremendous fun while doing this made up for that completely. The models are a befriended couple who tailor-made their clothes themselves. We took care of making the props, and as art director and photographer side-figured on the tiny, glass bowl that the stand-in model for Mick Fleetwood holds in his hand.
From concept to delivery
The calendars are packed in black tissue paper and sealed with a matte silver sticker. A small hand-written paper card is included, thanking the buyer for his support for Alzheimer's and mentioning the total number of calendars sold. The stirdy, carton envelop secures a protected transport and the concept of Charity Music Calendar 2017 has been finalized into the details bij a designed, personalized post label for sending.
Facebook promotion ads
The advertorials on Facebook were posted to boost the sales in a very short time. By the time all covers had been photographed and edited, there was short time left to promote and sell the calendar before the new year would take on. An arrangement with the printing press was made for producing only the amount of ordered calendars, to be passed on in the last week of December. Printing, drying and express-transport delivery guaranteed to be on time this way. The Facebook ads have a plain and compact design, with emphasize on the potency as a gift for Christmas or new year. The last days of promotion were used to boost the sales by counting up in accordance to the number of already ordered calendars.
A website with easy to remember domain name www.charity2017.nl has been developed to enable a central ordering process. In addition to the most important ordering function, the site provided background information on the Alzheimer subject, a preview of the original documentary, the making of remakes, and a promotional video.
Making of and fun facts
See the images below to get a better impression of how each cover has been established. From preparations to photo shoot and editing afterwards. Followed by a list of additional fun facts and details on the production process, for the ones with some more overall interest.
Nice to know
- The format of the calendar is the same as that of vinyl record covers: 31x31 cm.
- During the photo shoot the actual album was played for getting in the right atmosphere.
- Each album cover is officially credited with mention of record company and year.
- All the artist's birthdays are noted on the relevant days: from Stevie Nicks to His Royal Badness. This also made us realize that many of these artists have already died and at relatively young age.
- The most common holidays are listed on the calendar: from Jewish to Christian, from Muslim to Dutch occasions.
- To achieve the deepest black quality, a special 'double-hit' technique has been applied for printing of the calendars. In combination with the sturdy, matte paper, this gave the true vinyl experience.
Our favorite question, when hearing all the enthusiastic responses after people received their example, was which album cover was their favorite one. As it turned out, everyone had an own preference for personal reasons. One buyer told us that she and her sons liked 'Buena Vista Social Club' best because it was the only album she and the two teenagers all knew. While the contact person of the printing press told us that he found 'Adele' very striking. And for other people goes they liked the cover best that had their lover, child, friend, or relative posed for. We loved all the responses we received and realized that it was the collaboration and gathering of so many people at once that made the calendar and its purpose a success.