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Graffiti: Just To Get A Rep

Just To Get A Rep
Just To Get A Rep directed by Peter Gerard

Peter Gerard is an indefatigable filmmaker who finds the extraordinary in the ordinary. His first documentary, "Out of Breath," looked at teen life in the Midwestern town in which he grew up. The film won the Audience Favorite award at the SOFA Film Festival in Portland, Oregon and has been shown at the Royal Museum in Edinburgh, Scotland. In 2000 and 2001, he produced the Bargain Basement Film Festival, a celebration of low-budget film. A multi-media visionary, he has made numerous short films, designed award-winning websites, and shown his photography in the U.S. and Britain. His most recent film, Just to Get a Rep, documents the art and history of graffiti in the U.S. and Europe.

Director's Statement

In many parts of the world, there is a commonly held misconception that graffiti breeds violence and crime and that graffiti writers are dangerous or violent. I have spent the past three years with incredibly generous and respectful people that risk arrest to decorate their streets and trains. These are youth who have been denied creative expression, yet they find their own way to speak. Just to Get a Rep barely scratches the surface of an international culture that has created its own network, its own media, and its own galleries despite the constant threat of the authorities and the established art world. While it as initially a challenge to locate these mysterious artists, I quickly became part of the culture and have met hundreds of writers in Europe and the U.S. After more than three years of filming, I finally forced myself to stop filming and tamed the material into a coherent film.

More than thirty years ago, the youth of New York's neglected neighborhoods started a revolution by spray-painting their names on subway trains. The energy and freedom of this expression has inspired generations of youth throughout the world, yet the established authorities and institutions continually deny its merit. Working against the powers of the media, the police, and the art world, aerosol artists have developed a unique worldwide culture based on respect, camaraderie and a shared struggle to re-claim and re-create their environments.

Just to Get a Rep rigorously examines the love-hate relationship between graffiti and hip-hop. Hear the true story of aerosol art as told by New York's pioneers as well as today's innovators from all over the world.

Just to Get a Rep is directed and produced by Peter Gerard. It is a self-funded independent production with a very small crew. They have filmed in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, St. Louis, London, Manchester, Rome, Milan, Venice, Paris, Barcelona and more.

Hip-hop culture is commonly defined by "four elements" - rapping, DJing, breaking or b-boying, and graffiti. Graffiti writing actually started at least five years before hip-hop music, and though these various forms of expression co-existed in the Bronx during the 1970s, they were not thought of as a singular culture until the beginning of the 1980s when the media took interest. The media packaged the four artforms and labelled them "hip-hop" before they were shipped abroad. Naturally, many people took the package as it was delivered.

Now the connection between graffiti and rap music is dwindling, if not non-existent, yet the idea of the "four elements" still persists. Just to Get a Rep looks closely at how graffiti and hip-hop developed into cultures with global appeal. The film compares the present with the past and examines how accepted histories have evolved.

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