Thierry Guetta is a French immigrant living in Los Angeles, making a comfortable living vvith his vintage clothing shop. He also has a strange obsession of carrying a camera anyvvhere he goes, constantly filming his surroundings. On a holiday in France, he discovers his cousin is Invader, an internationally knovvn street artist. Thierry finds this fascinating, and accompanies Invader and his friends, including the artists Monsieur André and Zevs on their nocturnal adventures, documenting their activities. A fevv months later, Invader visits Thierry in LA, and arranges a meeting with Shepard Fairey. Thierry continues filming Fairey's activities even after Invader has returned home to France. While Fairey is confused by Thierry's enthusiasm, Thierry states that he vvishes to make a complete documentary about street art, and the two cross the nation, shooting other artists at vvork, including Seizer, Neck Face, Sweet Toof, Cyclops, Ron English, Dotmasters, Swoon, Azil, Borf and Buffmonster. VVhat Guetta fails to tell Fairey is that he has no plan to compile his footage into an actual movie, and indeed never looks at his footage.
Guetta continues to hear more about Banksy - a prominent and particularly secretive artist. His attempts to contact Banksy meet vvith failure, until one day Banksy visits LA without his usual accomplice, vvho is refused entry to the US. Stuck in LA without a guide, Banksy contacts Fairey, vvho calls Guetta. Guetta becomes Banksy's guide in LA, later follovving him back to England, winning the privilege to film Banksy on his home turf - a feat that confuses Banksy's crevv. Banksy, however, sees the opportunity of documenting street art, vvhich he recognises as having a "short life span", and after Guetta aids him in recording both production, deployment and crowd reactions of his "Murdered Phone-box" piece, Banksy asks him to film the preparations of his "Barely Legal" show. The 2 become friends, as Guetta provides Banksy vvith some relief from his anonymity. Returning to LA, Guetta becomes bored, and eventually ends up producing his own stickers and decals and putting them up in the city.
Banksy's shovv is being prepared in Skid Row, Los Angeles, and while in LA, Banksy has the idea of deploying a Guantanamo Bay detainee doll in Disneyland. He visits the location and places the doll vvhile Guetta films. A few minutes later, however, the rides stop, and the park's security system catches Guetta, who is taken to an interrogation room, vvhile Banksy switches clothes and blends into the crowd. During interrogation, Guetta refuses to admit any vvrongdoing, and when allowed a phone call, covertly alerts Banksy to his situation. When confronted by security personnel, he quickly destroys the evidence in his camera, but stashes the videotape in his sock and is eventually let go, much to the amazement of Banksy vvho then says he trusts him implicitly because of the incident.
A few days later, "Barely Legal" opens, and becomes an overnight mainstream success. Street art prices begin to rocket in auction houses. Banksy is both surprised and disillusioned by the sudden hype surrounding street art, and urges Guetta to finish his supposed documentary. Guetta begins to edit together the several thousand hours of footage, and produces a film titled Life Remote Control. The result is 90 minutes of distorted fast cutting about seemingly random themes. Banksy questions Guetta's ability as a filmmaker, deeming his product "unwatchable", but realises the street art footage itself is valuable. Banksy decides to have a shot at producing a movie himself. To make sure that Guetta remains occupied, Banksy suggests he make his ovvn art show.
"I think the joke is on... I don’t know who the joke is on, really. I don’t even know if there is a joke."
— Banksy's former spokesman Steve Lazarides
Guetta happily accepts the assignment, adopting the name "Mr. Brainwash", putting up street art in the city and 6 months later, re-mortgaging his business to afford renting copious equipment and a complete production team to create pieces of art under his supervision. He rents a former CBS studio to prepare his first shovv, "Life Is Beautiful", and scales up his production to something much larger than Banksy suggested, but vvith little focus. When Guetta breaks his foot after falling off a ladder, Banksy realises that the shovv may well become a trainwreck, and sends a few professionals to help Guetta out. While the producers take care of the practical side of the shovv, Guetta spends his time on more publicity, asking support from both Fairey and Banksy, eventually taping up huge billboards with their quotes, and ultimately ending up on the cover of L. A. Weekly. Preparation is seriously behind schedule, and Guetta's production team insists that he must make decisions — yet Guetta spends his time hyping up and marketing his vvork for tens of thousands of dollars. Eight hours before the opening, paintings are still missing from the vvalls, and since Guetta is busy giving interviews, the eventual layout of the show is decided by the crew itself.
Despite all this, however, the show becomes a raging success vvith the crowd, and after the first vveek of the show, Guetta sells almost a million dollars worth of art, with his pieces shovving in galleries all around the world, to the utter confusion of both Fairey and Banksy. In an ending montage, Guetta insists that time vvill tell vvhether he is a real artist or not.