Short film “TAG” throws you into the extreme life of a graffiti artist

My review of short film TAG has been a long time coming. I heard about this film last year from its writer/director, Patrick Green who is continuing his man-on-the-street style of filmmaking with his upcoming documentary, For Your Consideration, which chronicles the creation of the now-infamous Harvey Weinstein Casting Couch statue on Hollywood Boulevard.

TAG, by contrast, is fictional, but its storytelling style isn’t any less real. In fact, for TAG, first-person POV is carried out throughout the film thanks to the lead actress Christina Masterson and stunt double Vanessa Zamarripa wearing  body cameras.

Masterson and Zamarripa play Harlow, a woman who is a volunteer at the prestigious Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, but her secret identity is as a faceless graffiti artist, stealing spray cans and leaving her mark the walls located on the other side of town.

TAG has been commended for its visceral element, and that part of the film can’t be understated. The visceral quality is actually its own character, since you are experiencing everything through Harlow’s eyes. When she’s running from the guys tracking her down for stealing, you feel the exertion and hear the labored breaths. When she makes extreme jumps over fences and down corridors, it’s almost as if you can feel the impact. When she’s startled, you’re startled, since you have her same blind spots. For six minutes, you are Harlow, a woman living on the edge. But, don’t just read my feelings on the film–check it out for yourself.

TAG – A colorful day in the life of a graffiti artist looking to make a mark from Patrick Green on Vimeo.

In his artist’s statement, Green said TAG was a passion project for him “after coming across a tagger signing their name to a wall in my neighborhood.”

“The anonymous figure was small, wearing a red hoodie and new sneakers. That image stuck in my head as I passed the tag in the morning, and I began to think about a person who would risk their lives to sign their tag name (not a gang sign) in a public space. I wanted to tell that story using a character that defies the stereotypical tagger that’s portrayed in the media. Although street art is now a big part of pop culture, it began as an underground act that gave a voice to the voiceless. As an Asian American artist myself who has struggled to be heard, I wanted the audience to see what we had to say, our point of view through a graffiti artist’s eyes, which is why we literally shot it in POV.”

For Green, TAG represents the artist who makes their name known to the world regardless of their limitations or other’s opinions.

“Every artist has that moment when they find their voice. It’s at that instant when you realize that ‘today’ is the first day of the rest of your life,” he wrote. “Nothing and no one will stop you from expressing yourself. Graffiti taggers, street artists, urban contemporary artists, whatever you want to call them, want to be heard and if no one is going to listen, they’re going to make you see.”

Christina Masterson as Harlow, standing in a tunnel with a spray can.
Christina Masterson as Harlow.

The raw, unfiltered quality of TAG has made it a hit everywhere it’s been screened; the film has been an Official Selection of these film festivals throughout 2017:

Official Selection at CAAM Fest (world premiere) ’17
Official Selection at Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival ’17
Official Selection at Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival ’17
Official Selection at Art Fair Málaga Spain ’17
Official Selection at Ground Effect “Behind the Walls” Paris ’17
Official Selection at Filmchella ’17
Official Selection at Los Angeles Diversity Film Festival ’17
Official Selection at RAW Film Festival ’17
Official Selection at Seattle Asian American Film Festival ’17
Official Selection at The Block Art and Film Festival ’17
Official Selection at Chinese American Film Festival ’17
Official Selection at Bad Film Festival ’17
Official Selection at CineMiami Festival ’17
Official Selection at Ithaca Asian American Film Festival ’17
Official Selection at Cine Miami Fest ’17
Official Selection at Cine Pobre Film Festival ’17
Official Selection at Freshflix Film Festival ’17
Official Selection at Miami Independent ’17
Official Selection at Canada Shorts ’17

TAG is available on Chopso and will be available on Amazon Prime and Vimeo on Demand. And, if you’re a fan of Green’s work, I’ll have more from him coming this week!

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