whitehot | September 2010, Interview with The Baron: DOTS
Burning Candy van
Photo by Chris Osburn
Interview with The Baron: DOTS - World's First Graffiti-Funded Movie, Burning Candy and the World
“Truth is reached through dispute” or so says secret identity filmmaker, The Baron, who has commenced work on a documentary about one of London's most infamous and prolific graffiti crews – Burning Candy. The idea behind the film - entitled “DOTS” - is to take each individual Burning Candy artist to “visit the places and cultures that most inspire their artistic style, in order to discover how they can take their own work further”. Think of it as an East London “throw up” on a global scale. And as with many a graffiti collaboration, The Baron reckons there'll a healthy dose of chaos and plenty of dispute to keep things real along the way. Already in the can, so to speak, is the journey taken by Cyclops to Mumbai. It's engaging to watch as the thirty-something street artist negotiates the streets in search of sign painters with whom to paint alongside and – if The Baron can pull it off – promises a compelling movie of an almost epic scale. As avid as he is cranky about working with Burning Candy, The Baron was keen if cryptic during a recent convo about his film, the artists involved and the unique “graffiti-funded” model he's adopted to pay for this (mis)adventure in art.
Chris Osburn: Tell us about the movie you're making. Is this just an excuse for you to travel around the world with your mates?
The Baron: First of all I don’t even like these people, its simply that I think their art is so good and powerful that it should be documented regardless of my personal disdain towards them. They’ve got the skills, sense of adventure and the philosophies to take this art form to the next level. The film aims to put them in some really challenging and exotic locations that will test both the integrity of the art and the artists to see what comes out of the mix. For example Cyclops, one of the artists featured in the film, went to India to find and collaborate with the street sign painters, the resulting murals were a bizarre but intriguing mix of Sanskrit writing with Cyclops’ skull iconography and graffiti writing. On paper it shouldn’t work, but in reality the pieces looked amazing. Travelling and embracing different attitudes, cultures and aesthetics is an extension of BC's already prevalent philosophy to break rules and keep the work open-minded, fun and different.
Osburn: Who are the Burning Candy artists? How did you become involved with this crew and what makes them worthy of a feature length film?
Baron: Cyclops, Dscreet, Mo, Rowdy and a bunch of other geriatric jokers. We used to knit together in the basement of the Mecca Bingo club every Sunday. It was a natural progression for us to become the premiere savant guarde spiritualist spray paint crew in the UK. Of course, we have the delicate balance of graffiti and sockmaking skills required to rock the contemporary artworld. This film should reach the masses and be entertaining to spinsters, rapdancers and hipsters alike.
Osburn: How did you determine which artist would be going to which destination? Were some of the location decisions easier to make than others?
Baron: Each trip is designed to complement each artists' working practice and inspiration. For example, Rowdy paints crocodiles on rocks and dumps them in the middle of urban centres; therefore Rowdy will be travelling to outback Australia to work with Aboriginal artists whose forefathers were some of the original practitioners of painting pictures on public rocks, the parallel is kind of obvious. Of course the Aboriginal philosophy and rationale for doing so is probably different from Rowdy's, but there is a connection between artists that transcends language and cultural beliefs which I'm sure will result in them making some beautiful art together.
Osburn: Any particular locations for “DOTS” that you're particularly excited about visiting?
Baron: The Outback! Siberia! Brazil! New York and Miami! They’re all killer locations - I'm in a permanent state of ecstasy right now.
Osburn: How are you planning to fund the production of “DOTS”?
Baron: We’re selling our artwork to fund this film. It makes sense to sell art to make more art and this film is a creative extension of what the artists already do. For those who want to get involved the deal is this: you pay £500 to become a co-producer on the film and you get a % return on the films profits for the next ten years. You also get a highly collectible box of prints made by the whole BC crew. This box set includes nine core members of the crew, and the line up will most likely never be repeated. It’s a special rare release.
There's also a gallery section on the website www.dotsthefilm.com where you can buy original artworks by the crew involved. Sales of this work will also assist the film and half will go straight to the artist. There are even DOTS T-shirts if you can't afford the artwork, all the money goes to the film.
Osburn: What's your background as an artist and filmmaker?
Baron: I've made a broad range of music vids and documentaries. I'm also a graffiti fanatic and artist in my own right, so it seems natural to fuse my two greatest passions with this project.
Osburn: How will your film compare to other movies about graffiti artists? What are some of your favourite street art flicks?
Baron: As a sprog I watched “Style Wars” religiously. It was almost an unhealthy obsession. Then some older writers put me on to a great film called “Stations Of The Elevated” which took a more visual and suggestive approach to documenting the art form. Lately I've really enjoyed films like “Infamy” which achieved an intimate personal insight into writers minds, lives and motivation.
This film will be different in that it will take the writers out of their natural habitats and force them to consider their own work and how it relates to unfamiliar environments and cultures. I think it's interesting to see how people adapt in the face of challenge and adversity, graffiti was founded on a DIY approach to shaping and decorating the surrounding environment. However lately I think it's become a bit too comfortable and safe in its aesthetic. In relation to the crew dynamics it's also fascinating to see how a large group of monumental egos manages to meld and clash in order to reach a common creative goal, I'm amazed it works at all.
Osburn: Have any idea of when “DOTS” will be ready for release? Is there a website or other way that people can keep up with developments?
Baron: I plan on re-shooting the film seven times with a variety of producers and DOPs, there will be technical problems relating to experimental film stocks and tribal border wars. No doubt there will be many deeply personal fallouts and possibly even fisticuffs. There's no telling how long this could take. To be honest I put myself in the category of people who are best able to give form to their ideas by arguing – I entirely subscribe to the view that truth is reached through dispute. Probably two years then…