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RISD student’s “Obey the Giant” movie set to debut May 16 + 18

May 4, 2012

RISD student Julian Marshall caused a bit of a local stir a few months back when word got out that he was making a film related to former Providence Mayor Vincent A. “Buddy” Cianci Jr. The project actually centers on RISD alum Shepard Fairey, best known for his Obey Giant image and the “Hope” portrait of President Obama, although Cianci is a chacter in the movie.

Marshall bills “Obey the Giant” as the first narrative film about Fairey, and it looks well-made and certain to enter the Ocean State creative canon, based on the trailer. It’s set to debut May 16 and 18 at RISD’s FAV festival, which is open to the public. Tickets can be obtained by calling RSID.

Marshall joined Tim White, Ted Nesi and myself on WPRI/WNAC-TV’s Newsmakers this morning to talk about his project. During an interview after the show, he told me:

The film is the origin story of Shepard Fairey’s Obey Giant campaign. It’s set in 1990 when Shepard was a student at Rhode Island School of Design. It’s the story of the first billboard of thousands that he ever pasted his Andre the Giant graphic on.

Fairey pasted an eight-foot tall image of the wrestler over the face of a Cianci re-election billboard on Benefit Street.

Asked what attracted him to the story, Marshall, a native of Washington, D.C., says, “What better story for a RISD student to tell than the story of RISD student?”

The trailer for “Obey the Giant” includes a scene inspired by Cianci’s notorious 1983 encounter with Raymond DeLeo, who Cianci suspected of an involvement with his estranged wife. The move depicts Cianci striking Deleo with a burning fireplace log.

Marshall, who made a guest appearance on Cianci’s WPRO radio show, says the former mayor wasn’t pleased with him.

The RISD student helped to fund his project with kickstarter. He hopes to place the movie at Sundance and to distribute it widely over the Internet.

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