Graffiti in Philadelphia
I will be creating a video series highlighting Philadelphia’s history with the art of graffiti and multiple prolific and active graffiti artists.
Over the next few months I will be creating a journalistic video series that explores the history of graffiti in Philadelphia, and also highlights various prominent graffiti artists in Philadelphia. This will consist of 4-6 videos, each between 4 and 14 minutes long. Videos will consist of sit-down interviews, stills and footage of both existing graffiti and artists in action, and clips that document graffiti history.
Philadelphia is known as the city of murals, but is also widely known for the abundant street art. Although tons of city spending is on public art, its also spent on “buffing” or erasing artwork that was done without permission. Since graffiti is illegal and controversial, there is little existing coverage about the world of graffiti. Existing coverage from major news organizations largely vilify graffiti artists, simply regarding them as vandals. Additionally, graffiti artists rarely reveal their identities and usually their work is done at night so they won’t be seen. I believe that most Philadelphians are well aware of graffiti, but don’t know much about it. I think that people will be interested in watching these videos purely out of curiosity: to learn about Philly’s history with graffiti, to hear what the artists have to say, and to watch them practice their craft.
I’ve always admired VICE’s journalistic video coverage of illegal and taboo topics, which inspired me to want to create similar pieces. As a journalism student with the goal of producing short documentaries post graduation, this project would be an excellent portfolio item for what I want to do professionally.
Audience and Impact
This project will have two audiences: citizens of Philadelphia and the worldwide graffiti community. Keeping that in mind, my goal for this web series is to be informative to Philadelphia citizens about the craft and community of graffiti, while also being sure to properly highlight the art itself (Philly style, different artists style, techniques, etc.) for the graffiti community worldwide.
This project will consist of 4-6 short documentaries which will be posted to YouTube and promoted on Instagram. I chose the medium of video on social media because I think most people prefer to consume content in the form of video, usually on social media.
The concept of these documentaries is largely inspired by video coverage on illegal and taboo topics by VICE. I plan on conducting sit-down interviews with artists and members of the Philly graffiti community (just the interviewee in frame), likely with voice changers and blurred/covered faces to protect artist identities as VICE often does.
Example: VICE’s “Informer” series
For my videos, I plan on using a very similar interview format to VICE’s “Informer” series, protecting the subjects’ identity using a mask or blurred face and voice changers. Additionally, I plan on conducting the interviews so that just the interviewee is speaking, and you don’t actually hear the questions/there’s no titles detailing the prompts. The goal is to make it seem like the interviewee is simply telling you stories and information without a prompt.
Unlike VICE, I will not be conducting interviews in a studio and will not create such a dark/scary tone and rhetoric.
Example: Graff PHL Videos
This Youtube channel produced multiple videos about Philadelphia graffiti artists, with the last video posted over 5 years ago. I’m inspired by the action footage of these videos, and would like to similarly create cinematic shots expressing adrenaline. Contrary to the content produced by Graff PHL, my videos will be much heavier on interviews and have the goal of being informative rather than simply interesting and fun to watch.
Through taking college courses such as digital filmmaking, digital field methods, video art, and interning with Skate Jawn Magazine as a multimedia editor, I have experience capturing and editing video using a DSLR and Adobe Premier Pro, along with capturing and editing audio using a zoom h5, lav microphone and Adobe Audition. I will be using my own Adobe subscription, tripod and camera, and borrowing audio and possibly lighting equipment from the SJU Comm Gear Room. Additionally, I have interviewing experience through being a journalism minor and working with the Hawk Student Newspaper for over 2 years.
“How-to” interview series for Skate Jawn
This video series shares phone-call interviews with professional skateboarders where they give tips on how to do a trick they are well known for, and a video compilation of them doing that trick. This series seriously tested by audio editing capabilities since the raw audio was very poor quality, and also improved my video editing skills.
Skatepark Review Series for Digital Field Methods class
I produced this video series over two years ago, and was my first time producing video content like this. Having more experience now, the Philadelphia graffiti documentaries would be much more professional and serious than the videos in this series.
Short documentary on “Meg’s” DIY Skatepark for Skate Jawn
This video is the most similar of my examples to my vision for the Philadelphia graffiti series. I learned a ton about documentary filmmaking in the process of creating this video, which will be really helpful. I will be using a better camera than what was used for the Meg’s project, and use what I learned in the process of creating this video when shooting. (this video is not finalized or published yet)
This project would combine my obtained knowledge from the communications and journalism departments at St. Joe’s through using objective journalistic intent, interviewing skills, storytelling skills, along with media studies, multimedia editing and design.
I recognize that the videos I plan on creating for this project need to be a step up and more professional than the video work I have previously produced. Using what I learned from previous projects, critique and help from journalism and video professors and a better camera, I plan on creating very professional and polished short documentaries for this project.
The major obstacle for this project is finding sources who are willing to interview and be filmed while practicing their craft, since its illegal. I have one artist who is willing to participate in my project, which I believe will be helpful in finding other artists to interview, and maybe even make other artists want to do a video as well. Additionally, there are multiple important members of the Philly graffiti community who no longer practice and seemingly would be down to interview. I have never used facial blurs or voice changers, so that will be a learning curve as well.
Another challenge about this project is that since I am not a member of this community, I need to thoroughly research and familiarize myself with graffiti community in order to ask thoughtful questions and properly depict the artists. To do this I will use journalistic research methods that I’ve learned through reporting for the Hawk Student Newspaper. I will continue to have off the record conversations with Mutt (owner of Mutt Airbrush and Graffiti Supplies, legend in Philly graffiti), continue to explore the community on social media, and research the history of Philadelphia graffiti (law changes, famous writers, styles, etc). I’ve been looking into this topic purely out of interest in recent months, and will continue to watch documentaries, existing coverage and content straight from the community.
Additionally, I will be using a new camera for this project that I will need to thoroughly learn how to use before shooting any video, but I have had cameras before and know how to shoot on DSLR.
Week 3: Research, reach out to sources, draft designs for social media accounts, intro&outro animations
Week 4: Research, finalize designs for social media, video titles, find archival footage, possibly shoot history video interviews
Week 5: Shoot interview with Mutt, possibly Cornbread, street art expert, take video of existing work from artists that will be featured, source archival footage
Week 6: Edit Mutt&Cornbread interviews, source archival media, shoot with OSHIN
Week 7: Finish draft 1 of history video with Mutt, shoot with OSHIN
Week 8: Draft 1 of OSHIN video, finalize history video
Week 9: Shoot with Skue Ghost, finalize OSHIN video, post history video and promote on instagram
Week 10: post OSHIN video and promote on instagram, edit Skue footage, shoot more with Skue
Week 11: Draft of Skue video, shoot with KRAP
Week 12: Finalize Skue video, shoot with KRAP
Week 13: Post Skue video and promote on instagram, draft 1 of KRAP video
Week 14: Final draft of KRAP video, possibly combine videos into one longer documentary
Week 15: Presentation, KRAP video published and promoted on instagram