The Romanovs were pioneers of photography — in the early 20th century they owned the world's first portable Kodak cameras and captured almost every meaningful event in their lives.
On July 17, 1918, the last Tsar of the Russian Empire, Nicholas Romanov, was executed with his wife and five children by the Bolsheviks. To pay tribute to the family, we merged a large set of visual data with transmedia storytelling to piece out the big picture of a "lost Russia". This is the story of the Empire's last royal family through thousands of their own photographs.
#Romanovs100 is a comprehensive cross-platform social media project unveiling photographs from a unique collection preserved by the Russian State Archive. This vast family chronicle is a detailed first-hand witness account of the early 20th century - for decades this part of Russian history was eradicated from school-books and kept in the dark during the Soviet rule. Today, we bring it back to the spotlight.
With #Romanovs100 we continue to experiment with innovative formats and digital approaches in educational storytelling. Our creative strategy can be summarized in three key objectives: "Engage. Inspire. Educate." #Romanovs100 is a research into history through the visual language of photography combined with the digital reality of social media.
To promote the project, our team filmed three teasers using 8mm and 16mm cameras - every episode was a detailed behind-the-scene reconstruction of three real photographs from the Romanovs' archive.
While producing the videos, not only our team was looking for the right actors during casting, but attention to detail spilled out on meticulously choosing the exact props for the shoot making sure we were spot on with clothes, headwear and other details. In winter we built an exact copy of an enormous 10-meter snow tower, while in summer our crew headed to Crimea to film in the historic settings of the Livadia Palace. Using 8 and 16 millimetre cameras, we filmed like it would have been done in Nicholas's days. Analogue cameras, film and exact copies of objects handcrafted by the children all allowed for a time-travel experience, bringing the original photos to life.
The first scene brought to life is from 1916 when Nicholas II and his family built a gigantic snow tower in Tsarskoye Selo, their winter residence some 25km from St. Petersburg. Every winter Nicholas II – with the help of the Imperial Naval Guards – built a snow tower on a frozen pond at home in Tsarskoye Selo – a tradition brought to the royal estate from his childhood. These towers could stand until March, according to the Tsar's diaries.
The scene for the second teaser is set in Crimea's Livadia - family's main leisure destination. It was essential for the family to spend time in the mild Crimean climes because of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna's poor health and heir Alexei's hemophilia.
The original image reconstructed in the second teaser shows the Romanovs and their close circle enjoying an outdoor meal in the shade. As they put it themselves: "In St. Petersburg we work, but at Livadia we live."
The final teaser recreates a charity event that the Romanov family hosted in Crimea to support the TB sanatoria in 1912. It was important for the Empress to raise her children with charitable awareness. So, during their visit to Crimea in 1912, they took part in two charitable events with their mother: White Flower Day and the annual bazaar. White Flower Day was a regular event for the Anti-Tuberculosis League. Holding staffs of flowers, the Romanov children walked through the city of Yalta receiving donations and handing out flowers in return. The Grand Charity Bazaar was held for the benefit of the TB sanatoria.
To capture the atmosphere of early XX century life and portray the Romanovs as a kind and loving family, our team partnered up with famous Russian composer and singer Peter Nalitch to create a soundtrack for the project. Peter Nalitch, a 2010 Eurovision contestant, wrote 17 orchestral tracks some of which were used in the teasers. All the tracks were recorded in the legendary Mosfilm studios in Moscow using one of the greatest rooms in Russia for orchestral sessions where such giants as Angelo Badalamenti and Michel Legrand recorded their music.
#Romanovs100 is widely acclaimed by educators, historians and researchers in higher-education. Our team already made several presentations at 2nd and 3rd level institutions. The project was selected to be part of the official educational program of America's biggest creative festival - SXSW 2019 in Austin, Texas. #Romanovs100 is also showcasing at ASU GSV X forum in San Diego, focusing on innovations in education, and PromaxBDA Europe, gathering the best-inclass creative case studies in TV industry.
#Romanovs100 had an impressive impact across social media. The project generated over 25 million impressions & gathered around 55,000 fans & followers combined. Social media posts generated over 1 million engagements (likes, shares, comments, retweets). Our short documentary videos on Facebook and YouTube gained 1+ million video views with over half-a-million minutes of watchtime.
#Romanovs100 became the key hashtag during the centenary of the Romanovs' death on Twitter worldwide. During 16-17th July #Romanovs100 hashtag usage grew more than 2,000% with the project's unique tag featured in tweets by museums, history magazines, publishers, historians, students and educators. The project received wide global media coverage, featuring in The History Extra magazine, BBC News Hour, Tatler, Sky News, Daily Mail, The Sunday Telegraph, Quartz, Culture Trip and more.
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