UP THERE, a Short 2010 Documentary Film by Malcolm Murray for Stella Artois


In 2010, Up There, a short documentary film by Malcolm Murray for Stella Artois and Mother NY was released. The full film is available online. at Vimeo
Content is from outside sources.

Up There is a short documentary about the sign painters who still work in cities like New York, hand-applying mural-style ads to brick walls. In this short preview clip, you see an accelerated version of a series of murals painted over three weeks to advertise Stella Artois. Each image is drawn cartoon-style onto paper, holes are burned through the cartoon, and charcoal is applied to pattern the brick wall. Then the painters fill in the mural, mixing their paint as they go.

It’s truly humbling to see such skilled painters, able to fill a wall with a proportional, almost photorealistic mural in a matter of hours, while hanging on a window washing scaffold above traffic. May they never be out of work.


Directed by Malcolm Murray, based on an original concept by Mother as a promo for Stella Artois beer demonstrating the ritual of the perfect pour.

Shot high above the streets of New York City, UP THERE reveals the dying craft of large-scale hand painted advertising and the in-told story of the painters struggling to keep it alive. Capturing a trade that is equal parts artistic precision and grueling labor, the film presents a painting tradition pre-dating modern advertising. A craft that today finds itself dangling precariously on the brink of extinction. UP THERE is directed by Malcolm Murray, based on an original concept by Mother. It is produced by Mekanism with music by the Album Leaf. Enjoy!


A film by Malcolm Murray for Stella Artois and Mother NY

The mini-documentary 'Up There' gives a fascinating look at the dying art of hand-painted advertisements. In the documentary made by the advertising agency Mother in collaboration with Mekanism, you can see a number of talented artists at work for the 21-day 'Ritual Project' of the Belgian beer brand Stella Artois.

The film directed by Malcolm Murray is about professionals working for Sky High Murals, one of the last remaining mural companies in New York. You hear the painters talking about the risks that the profession entails and how many years it takes before you have mastered the art completely. Partly due to the music of The Album Leaf, it is a great movie to watch. The next time you come across a beautifully painted mural of meters high on the street, think about these guys for a moment and hope that this art will never disappear.

Concept: Mother NY; Production Co: Mekanism; Director/DP/Editor: Malcolm Murray; Music by The Album Leaf; Painters: Colossal Media/Sky High Murals/Bob Middleton; Presented by Stella Artois


"This film is impressive and the ultimate message is being seen by a lot of folks from the streets of NYC. Beer is a great topic since everyone loves beer, but I was wondering if some other businesses that are not so well known, or are even more obscure could benefit from this kind of publicity. For example, I work promoting software modernization and Access replacement services via the internet. There are services that handle the updating, improving, and even specialize in Access replacement for legacy systems for businesses, ensuring they stay current with technological advancements and fills a critical need for these businesses. I really think promoting this service on NYC buildings could enlighten everyone as to the existence of this important niche and make us all more aware of the valuable contribution they make to our society. I realize that painting buildings by hand is probably way too costly for such an effort, but just sayin..." Margo Johnson




A Beer Marketer Is Painting the Town, Literally

 APRIL 15, 2010 4:20 PMApril 15, 2010 / Article from NYTimes


Stella Artois beer commissioned a short documentary, to be released on Thursday night, about the art of billboard wall painting.

One of the hottest trends in marketing is for brands to commission the creation of content — sometimes chock full of product placement, sometimes low-key in trying to peddle their wares.

One of the softer-selling projects of late is to be introduced on Thursday night by Stella Artois beer. It is a documentary film, 12 minutes long, about the increasingly scarce art of wall painting, by which billboards are painted directly onto building walls.

The short film, called “Up There,” chronicles the hand-painting of a billboard for Stella Artois on the side of a building at the corner of Broome and Crosby Streets in Soho. The effort, which took place in November, was known as the Ritual Project because the billboard displayed the nine-step ritual that the brand suggests ought to be used when Stella Artois is poured into a glass.

The documentary short was the brainchild of the Stella Artois agency, the New York office of Mother, and was produced by a San Francisco studio named Mekanism. Malcolm Murray of Mekanism filmed, edited and directed “Up There.”


The short film chronicles the painting of a billboard on the side of a building at the corner of Broome and Crosby Streets in Soho.

The Mother headquarters in London came up with an idea in 2008 for a short film to be financed by Eurostar, the train service that connects London and Paris. Instead of a short, a feature-length movie, “Somers Town,” was made, and it was released two years ago to good notices.

“We’re always challenging Mother and our other agencies to break through, to go a little deeper and make an impression,” said Paul Byrne, brand manager for Stella Artois at Anheuser-Busch InBev in St. Louis.

In this instance, the concept of hand-painting a billboard enabled executives to help reinforce brand attributes like “craftsmanship, heritage, tradition,” Mr. Byrne said.

And Stella Artois frequently uses film as a global marketing platform, he added, citing examples like the brand’s sponsorship of the Sundance Film Festival.

In fact, a campaign just getting under way promotes the company’s sponsorship of the Cannes Film Festival by encouraging consumers to enter a contest to win a trip to Cannes. The campaign is centered on a make-believe King of Cannes, Jacques D’Azur, who has apparently died, leaving clues behind on social media Web sites like Facebook and Flickr.



Tuesday, January 18, 2011 / POST from http://sexy-ladies-night.blogspot.com/

20' x 50' Stop Motion Hand Painted billboard

As a former sign guy who used to hang out with lots of old-school sign painters (true artists), I really appreciate this...

Shot high above the streets of New York City, UP THERE is a documentary film that takes an inside look on the dying craft of large-scale hand painted advertising and the untold story of the painters at Colossal Media who are fighting to keep the artform alive. 




Stella looks at dying art of hand-painted ads

By Adweek Blogs|April 19, 2010 / https://www.adweek.com/

Mother in New York hosted a screening of its short film Up There for Stella Artois at the Grand Hotel on Thursday night. The 13-minute film (embedded after the jump) profiles the waning art of hand-painted advertising while chronicling a 21-day project during which artists from Sky High Murals painted the Belgian beer brand's "pouring ritual" on a 20-by-50-foot wall in SoHo. The documentary short, directed by Mekanism's Malcolm Murray, shows the painters, including retired artist Bob Middleton of Mack Sign Company, talking about the years it takes to perfect their artistry. By the time some of the young guys in the film become masters, there may not be much work left for them. So, take a minute to look up and check out the real thing the next time you pass a painted original. It's advertising's high art. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

—Posted by Eleftheria Parpis







Marco  Houston / 8 years ago
great work, both filmmaker & artists!


Elissa / 8 years ago
2 days an alien in New York, visiting from Melbourne for 12 days.
This video is changing the way I experience this dazzling habour town and I love it, thank you!
I'm also a documentarian in learning, hoping to hone my skills and tell beautiful and raw stories such as this. So far I have made just the one little clip which you can see on my vimeo page.
Are you making anything new at the moment?


Allan Cerbelli / 7 years ago
This is coming from a signpainter (Wall Dog) of 40 years who feels like a dinosaur in the sign business with the introduction of vinyl and technology. I feel the creativity, passion and heart oozing from these brave men's pores. To risk your life everyday for the love of sign artistry is inspiring. I was born in Brooklyn, New York and grew up on the ability and talent of these men who dazzled me as a young child on Times Square and all around the city.

I have the utmost respect for this trade and I could relate with everything that was said in this documentary. I have been having a hard time within the past few years getting steady work. I was let go from a great position with a major corporation. I love what I have been doing for a living these past 40 years, but I was complacent and didn't see how the thechnology end of the business would leave me in the lurch if I ever lost the job I loved.

I was emotionally touched by your film and I give you my thumbs-up as a "Signtist" who could feel what these men in the trade feel. As I said, "Signpainters" are considered dinosaurs these days and I wanted to convey my feelings on your film and "thank you" for bringing life to a great subject...."Imagination unrestricted by reality."


eatTVPLUS / 7 years ago
Beautifully done. One of my favorites!


Valentina G / 7 years ago
THANK you.


Michael Campbell / 7 years ago
I hope my work is this good one day!


Torko / 7 years ago
Amazing and beautiful doc. Great soundtrack too. Thanks for sharing it.


Sam Stanistreet / 6 years ago
Beautifully shot and a great insight into the people that still do it and love doing it.


John Contreras / 1 year ago
I seriously have been looking for this Godly video since summer started. The whole video had me in my seat and in complete awe! Super curious about the whole process.