“I’ve just seen something around that corner!” says the Spud Rokk before running down the block with the cameraman running after him to discover a fresh piece of graffiti. The Graff Hunters is the most high-energy arts presenter that I’d ever seen. (See my review of The Graff Hunters and you must see The Graff Hunters on YouTube because not enough people have.)
I must note some bias because I have been involved with some of these documentary makers. Organizing the film night at Sweet Streets 2010 put me in contact with Spud Rokk (aka Spencer Davids) who turned out to be living only a few blocks away. He was making another documentary, that at the time was called “My Name Is…” – later it was renamed “Writer’s Bench” (2011). (See my review of Writer’s Bench)
At one time it seemed to me that everyone was making a documentary about Melbourne street art. Making documentaries about graffiti and street art was a natural part of the movement; documentaries, music clips and films had spread contemporary graffiti to Melbourne. “At first the only information on the genre consisted of a documentary film on Bronx street life Style Wars, the glossy art book Subway Art by Henry Chalfant & Martha Cooper, and a B-grade feature movie Beat Street.” (Christopher Heathcote “Discovering Graffiti” Art Monthly Australia, September 2000 – see Melbourne Graffiti)
There have been a few documentaries shown on the ABC TV’s Artscape. February 2009, featured Tony Wyzenbeek’s Paper Cuts the art of Miso & Ghostpatrol (see my review). And in September 2012 two episodes of Jacob Oberman’s Subtopia about Doyle and the Blender crew (see my review). Not Quite Art (2007) looked at Melbourne’s street art and DIY culture. And the ABC twice showed Rash (2005) by Nicholas Hansen.
Hansen’s Rash covered Melbourne street art from 2002 to 2005 and interviewed some of the artists at the centre of it. It won the Best Feature Documentary award at the Film Critics Circle of Australia awards in 2005.
Melbourne Ink, (2009) was made by Julien Sena and Romain Levrault, two young filmmakers from Reunion Island with a lot of assistance and advice from Coops at Arttruck (see my review).
Jamie Howarth’s 70K (2006) was a documentary about graffitists, including Renks, a member of the 70K crew, that was refused classification (censored) by the OFLC (Office of Film and Literature Classification).
Cutback by Rachel Bentley was filmed between 2011 and 2014 in Melbourne, Sydney, Berlin, NYC and London. It focuses on the mainstream reception of Australian street art and features many of the usual suspects from Melbourne’s street art scene: Makatron, Rone, HaHa, Vexta, Beastman and Phibs.
There is probably someone in Melbourne right now desperately trying to edit together another documentary on Melbourne’s street art. A lot of them never get finished.
Looking across the oceans there is fund raising activity going on for more street art and graffiti documentaries. If you want to see more street art documentaries then there are ways that you can make it happen. Dscreet’s film “Dots” is being funded by the sales of a set including art (the prints), a co-producer credit and percentage in the film. (Has he finished it yet?) There is, Dregs, a New Zealand street art documentary that is currently fund-raising. And “White Walls Say Nothing”, a documentary about the walls of Buenos Aires that has launched a Kickstarter campaign.