Doug Gillen

Doug Gillen is the man behind (and in front of) Fifth Wall TV – a brilliant channel investigating all aspects of graffiti and street art. We thought we’d catch up with him to see where it’s all come from, and where it’s all going.

Hey Doug, what propelled you to get in front of the camera and starting Fifth Wall TV?
To be honest it naturally emerged after years of trying various different things that didn’t quite fit. I have been messing around on radio and in front of cameras for as long as I can remember but I guess I saw a gap in the art world I thought that it seemed like the right way to go.

Do you have a background in the graffiti/street art world?
Part of the reason I decided to start making these videos was because I really can’t paint. Don’t get me wrong, give me a few beers and a can and I’ll go to town, but that was never going to be the path for me. For the last decade I’ve lived in one of the most concentrated areas in the world for this art movement so you get pretty exposed to all the mechanics that make the machine function.

Graffiti artists tend to not really want to be on film – what’s your secret to getting people to open up to you?
The thing about this scene is it lives in this weird place right now where you have these superstar artists each with a million followers but the average person still doesn’t know much beyond You Know Who. When you hear some of the questions these guys get asked in interviews it  makes you cringe, so I think the key is coming in with a rounded understanding of the culture, otherwise people will never take you seriously.

What would be your dream video piece on graffiti and who would star in it?
Not sure there’s one person in particular but I’ve been working with one artist on and off for the last year and the footage we’ve got together is absolutely next level, the guy is as true as they come to the form, not telling you who, but when it gets finished it’ll bang. 

You did an excellent piece on the Walled Off Hotel that went onto become a much bigger documentary on life in Palestine and your most recent piece has been on the absurd jail sentences for graffiti writers, do you want to be delving into more meaty, sociological subjects with your films?
The whole point of this for me is to tackle the wider conversation. How many news articles do you see on some celebrity-esque artist where they fawn over the hype and completely miss the point of the subject? I’ve been reading on the Israel/Palestine conflict for years so I felt comfortable tackling the Walled Off Hotel the way I did. It was such a surreal environment. I remember sitting talking to this die hard art couple from Bristol who had no idea what-so-ever about the situation there and saw it just as a holiday, then there was this dude who came solely to clean out the hotel shop to resell the stock and of course the bus loads of tourists stenciling things like “Pray for Harambe” on the Separation Wall. It was a lot to process.

What do you ultimately want Fifth Wall TV to become?
I have a few more features developing just now but my ultimate goal for FWTV is to bridge the gap between those in the scene and those curious about it. The problem with the art world was that it was traditionally very closed off but that’s changing, if I can help shine a light on some of the people pushing the boundaries then my job is done.

Interview: Josh Jones
Photo: Tom Medwell

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