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The London Vandal Review of London Tonight Graffiti Film

Review

The London Vandal

All of the lads here at TLV Towers have eagerly anticipated the release of London Tonight for quite some time, and in December 2010 after a wait and a half, it finally became available to the public. Although we unfortunately didn’t make it down to the private screening before Xmas, one of the guys from Vision Films popped over today for a chat and to hand us a copy of the film.

The first half of the film consists mainly of writers-bench “spotting” footage and interviews with writers who made their names in the 90′s and early ’00s. Brief appearances from writers including Check, Met, Slice, Chop, Faum72 and Ment in the beginning of the film set the tone for some old school graffiti from some big names! The film continues by exploring the nature of London’s early Tube graffiti scene and describes the movement’s beginnings and the culture of battles that evolved in the yards. It paints an exciting image of a time long passed when London’s graffiti scene was only just emerging and the security and law enforcement was a lot less sophisticated than what we are used to today. A mix of full colour pieces, end-2-end burners, and whole-cars made up a healthy graff spotter’s diet, and marker insides made up the snacks. Some writers hint towards a rivalry developing between the European style of graffiti and the markedly different London (and then later UK) styles, which could be looked at as a precursor to the difference in the two styles that can be seen today.

The video is set to music including some graff influenced UK Hip Hop from Demon Boys, London Posse and Hijack. The musical soundtrack is cut with interviews with writers who tell stories from the yards, talk about the early London scene and explain about their histories as graffiti writers. These voice-overs are cut with tapes from police interviews where a clearly annoyed BTP officer confronts a writer with the evidence they claim to have collected against him. It makes for compelling listening!

The first half of the video doesn’t have much action in it, but concentrates on spotting runners. The selection includes a few classics that writers of all generations will recognise, including a beautiful “Diabolical Dubstars” end-to-end panel and an Sbom whole-car. Moving into the second half of the hour long video, there is more train depot action and other fun footage. Snippets from news reports about the 2006 Christmas Killa Mission (remember CGO battering Camden Town?) brought back memories of rolling into that station during the holiday season myself.

Unseen Ozone, Wants and Wazu footage is one of the biggest selling points of this DVD, and it’s only right that they are paid tribute to in a film about this scene and time era. Interviews with people close to Ozone, action footage of Wants and banter with Wazu are a welcome addition to the benching and action scenes, and further footage of these three lost writers makes up the bonus section of the disc.

The production quality of this film is good, it’s watchable, and it’s better than a lot of the graff videos I’ve watched in the past 5 years, though it may not impress the kids with HD video cameras and video editing workstations in their bedrooms. This footage was taken in illegal locations, around a decade ago, before graffiti heads were making legal videos with fancy lighting effects for Vimeo. This video represents the DIY culture that made the London graffiti scene and is very much worth 20 of your hard earned pounds.

Thanks to Vision Films for making this film, and RIP to Bradley Chapman, Daniel Elgar and Paul Johnson.

    The London Vandal Review of London Tonight Graffiti Film