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Film

Interview with Florian Gaag, Director of Graffiti Film Wholetrain

What was the inspiration for Wholetrain?

The main inspiration for making Wholetrain was my personal history in graffiti-writing. I started writing in 1984 and have followed the culture ever since. Also, I thought it´s about time to do a decent fictional film since graffiti-writing in most movies is nothing more than a hip urban backdrop or - even worse - romanticized or criminalized.

You worked with some impressive artists and musicians to create the movie, was that difficult to arrange? How did it come together?

The politics behind making Wholetrain were hell. All the officials were scared to support a movie that deals with a still controversial subject like graffiti-writing. Funders didn´t want to back it up, it took us three years to get shooting permission and when the film was finally made, movie theater owners refused to play it because they were scared their theaters might get wrecked.

The collaboration with all the writers and artists involved was great. Some of them are friends from back in the days, people like NEON, CEMNOZ and WON ABC, others I met through them, like PURE TFP from New York.

For the soundtrack I wanted to work with people who have love for graffiti culture or have been active as writers themselves, like for example Tame One of the Artifacts. Other artists I worked with: KRS-One, Planet Asia, Afu-Ra, O.C., Freddie Foxxx, Akrobatik, El Da Sensei, Grand Agent and Reef The Lost Cauze. I produced the beats, sent them the files, the according scene from the film, we recorded and that´s how it all came together.

How has the world of graffiti changed since the film was made?

There has definitely been a little shift towards street art / urban art recently and there are more and more galleries picking up on displaying the work of urban artists and graffiti-writers. But in terms of traditional graffiti-writing: trains are still being bombed all around the world, every day. It just got a little harder in recent years since the transit authorities have stepped up their surveillance methods.

How did you decide on the different backgrounds for the 4 main characters

Graffiti-crews are often made up of totally different individuals - in terms of their
ethnicity, personal and socio-cultural backgrounds etc. - who are being drawn together by writing-culture. So i wanted that to be reflected in the four main characters in Wholetrain.

Your film screened at MOCA last weekend; do you know LA well, and what are your impressions of the city? How is your film relevant to LA and our art/graffiti scene?

I´ve only been to L.A. once and - of course - spent a lot o time in the car. But i met
some great people out there. To really have an opinion about the city i´d have to
come again and stay around a little longer though.

Even if the story in Wholetrain is really closely centered around the subway / train bombing scene in Germany, I think it has kind of a universal quality, something that every person who´s ever been involved or interested in writing culture can relate to. Also in L.A.

You can get more information on the film on the official website.

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