Freddie For A Day was created about four years ago by a young woman who decided to go work dressed as Freddie to raise money for The Mercury Phoenix Trust. She went about her day, starting on the London underground then working as a banker and ending up on stage at the 8th anniversary of We Will Rock You. Everyone loved it, and Freddie For A Day was born.
Emanuel Donhauser from Swiss Education Group asked if I would be interested in shooting photos and video for their Freddie For A Day Festival in Montreux. Since this was in support of The Mercury Phoenix Trust who fight AIDS worldwide, my services were offered to the charity. What I could not afford in cash, I would donate in creativity.
I had a small problem in the form of a conflict. At the same time on the weekend of May 31st 2014, I was busy with my first photo exposition, but Swiss Education Group have been great clients and friends. I had produced all their promotional videos. The official cocktail party was scheduled for 5:30, just after the closing of my exposition. I figured I could juggle both events. It was a simple task.
But then things started getting serious. A public relation firm called and gave me a brief and a task list of the photos I was to take, as well as a deadline to post the pictures online. Sunday 5:30 pm. I was asked to cover the cocktail party with the mayor of Montreux, Laurent Wehrli. Then the concerts and DJ. The next day there would be a Freddie For A Day flashmob. Then a performance from the SEG musical group, as well as food games and lots of people.
Everyone was wearing a Freddie mustache, and they all looked like Freddie, Saddam, Pancho Villa or Tom Seleck. My sticky mustache was in my back pocket. I had not stuck it to my unshaven mug yet, but was more than willing join the facial hair festivities. Just a few people away from me stood Montreux’s mayor chatting with SEG executives. I was craving a glass of wine, but here was my photo opportunity, the wine would have to wait.
The mayor had the three top honchos from SEG with him, Mr. Donhauser, Mr. Rondez and Mr. Samson, all wearing their bandito mustaches looking like The 3 Amigos. I pulled mine out of my back pocket and handed it to the mayor and ordered him to stick it to his his chubby baby face. He refused. I insisted. He said no. I pushed. He winced. I smiled and said it would be in all the papers. I did not restrain my enthusiasm in my efforts to see the business suited mayor wearing a mustache. I was joined by the trio of executives and the wine drinking crowd around us chanting in unison “Put it on!”
I should be his campaign manager. As soon as he put on the mustache, the cameras behind me went into a frenzy of shutter clicks. Which seriously annoyed me as everyone was benefiting from my bold and gutsy insistence and stealing my shot. The mayor had transformed from a serious politician to a jovial enthusiastic Freddie look alike. “We Will Rock YOU!” I ordered. And they sang the Queen anthem like teenage rock fans high on star power. I was also shooting video, so I needed these fab fours to act out for my camera.
Simultaneously I shot video and photos. My exhibit was also going on, and luckily my son Seb managed the expo while I shot armed with 5 cameras. Two Sony NEX-5, and Sony Z1000 and two GoPros. I set two cameras on tripods for the flashmob one GoPro on a head-strap and a hand-held photo camera. This sounds like some photos buff diatribe, I apologize. But I got the essentials, as a one-man-film-crew. I felt like the one-man-band-circus-clown. But like the clown who gets his laughs, I got my shots.
I had to meet the 5:30 deadline, and close my exhibit. The photo expo had done quite well. We had sold quite a few of the hundreds of framed pictures. I made my way to my home studio to download the many of snapshots digital photography allows us to take these days, when I heard a tapping noise just behind me. There on my balcony was a Freddie For A Day yellow balloon which gently bounced into my editing room. It was both strange and magical. I am on the fifth floor of my apartment building, how did this little yellow fellow get up here from The Freddie For A Day Festival in Montreux?
It did not matter how. It was a sign from from the great king Freddie and a twist of Queen lyrical irony, “A Kind Of Magic”. The yellow balloon with the Freddie For A Day logo was forever captured in my camera. It was a cute photo with the Alpine vista behind it. I sent the photo to a key figure in the Mercury Phoenix Trust team. They loved the photograph, as it remind them of when they worked at the Montreux offices a long time ago. They asked if they could use my picture as the cover photo on the Freddie For A Day Facebook page. It was shared on Queen’s and Freddie Mercury’s pages as well, and in less than 24 hours it had amassed nearly 10’000 likes! Freddie’s magic was working as if it were “Made In Heaven”.