This list originally appeared in Twelve Ounce Prophet Magazine number Five. It has been expanded upon and a few new videos have been added. If you hear of, see, or are working on new videos about graffiti, send in the details and we'll do our best to include them here.
A word of warning: This list is a videography, not a catalog. Most of these are no longer in print. The purpose of this list is for writers and interested outsiders to get to know what's out there and what's been done in this field. We're not selling anything here, and we've left the ordering information off of most of these because many are homespun productions by writers who'd rather stay on the DL. In any case, never send money first and ask questions later.
Incidentally, not every video will work in every VCR. The USA has a recording system called NTSC, Australia has one called PAL, and Europe has yet another. None of them like each other. There are also bound to be a couple of videos that we mistakenly omitted. If that bothers you that much, send in the details and we'll do it up.
Wild Style is one of the graffiti classics; it stars Lee, Pink, and Zephyr, who all pretty much portray themselves in a pretty weak but cute plot about graffiti and its earliest commercialization. It's got some train footage, but not enough to really make you want to drop the cash to get it. It's a classic, but one you're pretty much done with after the first viewing... except for the train sequences, of course. Still available.
This is the grande dame of graffiti video, it doesn't get much more classic. This is the original film made to accompany Henry Chalfant's Subway Art, and it pretty much has it all. Interviews with lots of old train writers, bombing action, the whole nine. Y'all know the deal. Still available.
A really silly Hollywood version of the old days. There is some old graffiti, but it's incidental, and the "live" graffiti painting they capture was all done by corny set designers. Still a classic, for what it's worth.
You've probably never heard of it, but this video is absolutely one of the best out there. It dates from the very early 1980's - before Style Wars - and is an art film composed of subway graffiti and eerie urban images. A sparse, spooky Charles Mingus soundtrack accompanies the forty-five minute film. On the graffiti end of things, it features rare wholecars by Lee and the Fabulous Five, as well as other classic cars you've probably never seen before. On top of all that, it was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts - with U.S. taxpayer money. Still available.
This 1985 Hollywood film has nothing really to do with hip-hop graffiti, but it's still worth a watch. It stars Timothy Hutton as a young man who goes on a graffiti rampage in order to bring attention to the plight of his brother (Robert Urich) who is an injured firefighter.
A ridiculously corny b-movie about fictional writer King 67 and his exploits. The best scene is when he burns so hard that the toys who had followed him into the yard all stomp their feet and bang on the trains in applause. Dondi did the train sequences.
A 1984 BBC documentary featuring an interview with Brim, who laments the heightened security of the train yards. Narrated in rhyme by Gary Byrd.
A short film on the older NY writers who managed to make a career out of the gallery scene. Haring, Pink, Fred, Futura, and so on.
A collection of old NYC train footage; very shaky quality, and only 15 or 20 minutes long. Dates from the early 1970's and focuses on New York's number 4train. Strictly for diehard collectors.
Los Angeles-based filmmaker Bob Bryan turns in a nice documentary on LA graffiti, including a segment on Cholo-graff spokesman Chaz Bojorquez. There aren't so many of the LA graff stars highlighted as you might hope, and most of the writers spotlighted have pretty much retired, but it still makes for an interesting film. It's well-produced, which helps, but it's still rather obviously put together by a non-writer who really doesn't have his finger on the pulse of what graff is about, and that fact will leave most writers pretty cold. Still, it highlights one of the biggest scenes in graffiti, which otherwise has been rather poorly documented. Still available.
Full of nice eye and ear candy, Espo and company deliver their second well-produced half hour complete with Clark and friends piecing a clean train, an extra-nice freestyle by Black Thought of the Roots, and brief interviews with Kair, SMK, and Cost and Revs. The X-Men dj team show their spins, and a nice soundtrack rounds this one out. Out of print.
The first in the OTG series, this one focuses its eye on Philly, and documents one hell of a nice moment in time - the full bloom of Philly's "organics" style. There are interviews with Den, NM, and Des to round it all out. Des truly comes correct, attributing his fly career and college education to graff alone. Word! Out of print.
A fun little half hour series put together by some New Haven fellows - a nice soundtrack, cop car damage, and the standard NYC and Connecticut slide show round it out. Its quality improves, and it is up to issue four at the moment. Still available.
Put together by some folks from the relatively new Houston scene, Aerosol Warfare really goes overboard with the hip hop culture thing. It's got a pretty good distribution of mcing, djing, bboying, and graff - including a nice segment on the Paterson, NJ graffiti-a-thon a few years back. It's fun, but it just drags a lot. The subsequent second and third issues are big improvements. Still available.
Produced by the Video Graf staff, OTB shows true graffiti at its finest. It showcases the kids who really run New York - the gritty bombers who remain pretty much unknown outside of the City. It's exciting to watch; more so then watching writers piece. Among others; it features Doms KOC, Semer ICF, Demco ICF, Set KRT, Giz KRT, Web 113, and many more.
There are nine half-hour specials in this set and it's become a classic for writer entertainment on those rainy evenings. Production ranges from pretty shitty in the first issue to pretty good by the ninth. All of them have nice hippity hoppity soundtracks. The highlights of each episode are as follows:
#1: Phase 2 interview.
#2: JA; UW crew.
#3: Los Angeles tour.
#4: MQ; UW crew.
#5: RIS crew bombs the Ghost Yard.
#6: Boston special; Cope and Dero.
#7: California and New Jersey special.
#8: Ces and Clark; RTM and AWR crews.
#9: Bombing special.
A focus on the Cincinnati, Ohio, graffiti scene. Set in the Channel, a viaduct open below ground level.
Piece after piece from one of the best scenes in the country. Featuring a bit of bombing, as well as the renowned Psycho City and Oakland tracks yards.
A hour-long special on the Los Angeles and San Diego scenes. Featuring a nice slide show and funny interviews with PJ (WCA,) Teck, Risk, Phyzek, Zodak, Xpres, Mear, Anger, AZ, and Tenz. Production is both outstanding and original. Still available.
Direct from Brooklyn comes the NY-centric Forbidden Art series. Up to (I believe) issue three, it features walls, interviews, clean train robbery, and so on.
As of this writing, this video is due out soon, but shows every indication of being really hot. Produced and distributed by Flashbacks magazine, it features the work of some of the best production writers out there; the Bronx-based FX crew. It's an hour long and has interviews with FX members Per, Ces, Poem, Pose 2, Sub, Daim, Hesh, and Loomit. I wouldn't sleep on this one.
This West-Coast-based freights-only video has about three issues, each of which features one particular crew doing their thing to the freight yards. There's also tons of footage of pieces rolling by and sitting in the yards. Out of print.
Put together by the TITS crew in California, this hour long video features Cali walls and so on. Focuses, not surprisingly, on TITS, and that's not a bad thing.
A Bay Area focused production, featuring some fresh live freeway sign painting in broad fucking daylight. Quite a fun video, highlighting the earlier side of the well-documented San Francisco graffiti explosion. Out of print.
A twenty minute Providence, Rhode Island-based video featuring Hence painting live, along with a slide show of Boston, NYC, Providence, Florida, and LA. Good production quality.
A two hour focus on UK graffiti featuring interviews and commentary from most of the UK's top writers. Trains, walls, and so on.
This video is weird. It was put together by some British guy taking a rather academic approach to the English scene. It does show some nice footage of British stuff and has a few interviews, including one with cultural theorist Paul Gilroy, a noted academic. It isn't the kind of thing you'd want to pay money for, but it's an interesting half hour or so.
This series wins the prize as most prolific; these Brits are up to issue 14. Their production quality is good, but as of late they have not come up with as good content as in the past. One nice thing about this series is that they cover any gallery shows that come through. Primarily London, England, and Amsterdam. Still available.
This is a one-hour one-off from the Visual Graphix crew; this time exclusively featuring London trains from the 1980's and 1990's. A definite favorite among British writers, despite a pretty weak soundtrack. Features footage of the only whole train ever completed in Britain.
No review available.
Focusing on Berlin, this video has a bit of everything - bombing, breaking, walls, and so on. There are three in this series so far, I believe.
A one-off production based in Frankfurt. Backjumps magazine has also produced a fairly straightforward video. Breaking, graff, turntablism, the works.
Put together by the True Colorz team, this hour-long series is up to issue three or so. All of them have horrible rave soundtracks from what we hear, but feature strictly Amsterdam subways and Dutch "Banana" trains, most of which are from 1994-1995.
A newer series from the True Colorz crew, this features the walls and trains of Amsterdam. There are also several writer interviews, too. This one's up to issue two.
Three ridiculous hours of train wreckage from Holland.
A homespun venture featuring a three foot dwarf pissing on a bunch of girls in bondage. Oh, Rens and Cave paint live, too.
Primarily a train special, this series is up to number four so far, and keeps getting better. It's about an hour of rare Aussie trains and walls, with decent quality camera work. The fourth issue finishes strong with some rare footage of old NYC writers Dez, Sharp, and Delta2. Still available.
A new Sydney-based video that clocks in at a decent eighty minutes. Its strength is that it shows work that rarely would be seen outside of Australia. Features live train bombing, walls, and a nice hip hop soundtrack.
There are several other Australian videos that I managed to get a peek at. Unfortunately the folks I saw 'em with got me so zooted that I don't really remember 'em. So, if you live in Australia and can help us out... please do.
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