Carbon films were energetically deposited onto copper and nickel foil using a filtered cathodic vacuum arc deposition system. Raman spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy and UV–visible spectroscopy showed that graphene films of uniform thickness with up to 10 layers can be deposited onto copper foil at moderate temperatures of 750 C. The resulting films, which can be prepared at high deposition rates, were comparable to graphene films grown at 1050 C using chemical vapour deposition (CVD). This difference in growth temperature is attributed to dynamic annealing which occurs as the film grows from the energetic carbon flux. In the case of nickel substrates, it was found that graphene films can also be prepared at moderate substrate temperatures. However much higher carbon doses were required, indicating that the growth mode differs between substrates as observed in CVD grown graphene. The films deposited onto nickel were also highly non uniform in thickness, indicating that the grain structure of the nickel substrate influenced the growth of graphene layers.