Based on the true story of Shepard Fairey’s first act of street art, OBEY THE GIANT tells the story of a young skate punk challenging a big-city mayor and the powers-that-be at art school. Frustrated by his inability to gain respect within the confines of art school Shepard sets out to gain notoriety and acclaim by targeting the most powerful man in Providence, former Mayor Buddy Cianci. Risking expulsion and jail time Shepard plasters Andre the Giant’s face over the image of Cianci on a campaign billboard. As word of Shepard’s prank gets out, Shepard learns that art is a weapon and attention is both a blessing and a curse.
Director Julian Marshall is raising money for the movie on Kickstarter and he had this to say: “THIS IS NOT A DOCUMENTARY – IT IS A NARRATIVE FILM. The film approaches the origin of OBEY in a similar fashion to how The Social Network approached the origin of Facebook. This film is authorized by Shepard Fairey and I have the rights to his life story for the period that this story covers. (…) I recently directed a short narrative film about the early life of Shepard Fairey and the origin story of his OBEY GIANT street art campaign. The film is set in Providence, RI, in 1990 when Shepard was studying illustration at RISD. In an illustration class, titled Style and Substance, Shepard received a historic assignment that would later establish his legacy in Providence. Each student in the class was given a fortune cookie, and tasked with illustrating his or her respective fortune. Shepard’s fortune read: TO AFFECT THE QUALITY OF THE DAY IS NO SMALL ACHIEVEMENT. He then decided to paste his Andre graphic over the face of notorious former Mayor of Providence, Buddy Cianci, on his re-election billboard, located in the heart of the city.
They say you cannot force creativity. That seems to be the message behind the making of this project.
One morning I was sitting in my bedroom brainstorming story ideas for my RISD thesis film, and staring me in the face was the Andre The Giant poster that Shepard Fairey had given to me when I worked for him three years ago. It was then that creativity struck. I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be wonderful to tell the story of the conception of Shepard’s OBEY GIANT street art campaign from when he attended RISD in the early 90′s?
I put together a pitch and sent it to Amanda Fairey, Shepard’s wife. One week later, I received an email from Amanda saying that Shepard loved the idea for the project and could I come out to LA to speak with him about it. ”