Esquire interviews Henry Chalfant

The producer of the legendary film on its making, and why street art shouldn’t be a crime.


When Henry Chalfant moved to New York City in 1973, the Stanford-educated sculptor found cheap studio space in a declining city, and compelling, clandestine art on the subway to SoHo. Graffiti had risen from the ashes of a burned-down Bronx, mutating from simple tags to Rust-Oleum-rendered murals that consumed entire train cars. And while other commuters contemplated how best to strangle the perpetrators, Chalfant grabbed his camera to capture the rolling canvases.

He chronicled graffiti in a pair of 1980s photo books, but perhaps Chalfant’s greatest anthropological contribution to the culture was as producer of Style Wars, a seminal 1983 documentary that’s finally out on Blu-ray today. Originally aired on PBS, Style Wars illuminates New York subway spraying at its early-’80s apex. It’s a drama in which teenagers defy the Koch administration, their parents, and sometimes each other to write their pseudonyms big and often, inspiring future generations to put their names where they didn’t belong. Chalfant spoke with us about gaining the trust of teenaged vandals as a middle-aged white man, the brawl that spawned Style Wars, and the creativity embedded in New York’s dangerous old days. Here are his words:

Style Wars Interview with Henry Chalfant

Listen to this great interview with Henry Chalfant from Sports Byline USA (heard on numerous Sirius Satellite Radio channel 122, CRN Digital Talk Radio Networks channel 2, and the Armed Forces Radio Network). He addresses the making of the film, “Style Wars”, the process of restoration, and extras on the Blu-ray.

Here is more information about the restoration from the Kickstarter campaign:
“The original footage is damaged and fading. Fortunately, it will be possible to repair using digital technology. It will cost $28,000 to save and restore the outtakes. Saving the best outtakes is an important component of our overall project to restore the entire negative of the film and make an HD master which will preserve the record of the first painted trains in their original vivid colors.”

Style Wars Blu-ray Release Trailer

Style Wars on Blu-ray is available November 4th, 2014!

Featuring a brand new HD transfer from the original 16mm print, this video features over 70 minutes of never before seen extras including:

• The Outtakes and The B-Boy Showcase, made from unreleased footage, remastered with the help of donations from Kickstarter, also in HD
• Style Wars: In The Cutting Room, a behind the scene look at the making of the film during the final stages of the editing process

Blu-ray Release of the Classic Hip-Hop Documentary



Blu-ray release of the classic hip-hop documentary

Available on November 4th

Style Wars, the legendary hip-hop documentary and timeless film classic, the indispensable record of a golden age of youthful creativity and exploding hip hop subculture, will be available on Blu-ray on November 4th, 2014.

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Style Wars: More Testimonials with Outtakes

we have all needed this in our lives for long time, so glad to see this is going to finally happen for real, PEACE from Newcastle UK – raier

Congrats! This is the great movie, it was opened to me this scene of graffiti! common folks let’s make it 10 grand more than initially pledged)) 2 left) – Vladimir Antonov

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Style Wars… the Outtakes: The Testimonials


Yesterday, at 11:56 pm, EST, on the 26th day of our campaign our fundraising goal was met: 412 backers ensured that we will all get to see what is in the Style Wars outtakes… thank you!  We also compiled several of the comments from Kickstarter and Facebook – truly awesome observations … lovely time capsules:

30 more hours of history that build my life….. – GILLERBEE

Henry, back in the 80’s Style Wars brought New York graffiti and hip hop to Europe. We used to watch the vcr tape, recorded from tv, over and over again until the tape faded and all we could do is lipsink along with the audio. This movie inspired us to become who we are and we’ll be forever grateful to you for making it. – Mick La Rock

Great to play a small part in helping to restore some genuine Hip-Hop history – Style Wars had such a massive impact outside of the US and definitely educated me as a young kid in England discovering Hip-Hop culture in the early-80s – congratulations to Henry and the team for reaching the pledge goal and best of luck with the restoration process. – Ryan Proctor
Congrats henry you deserve it and the graff community needs it to teach the new generation about what graffiti was really like during the train years,I will be the first to cop it when it drops for sure. – Jimmy Griffin

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