Forgive the fact that it's somewhat a 12-minute commercial for Stella Artois, but I'd like to recommend this cool new documentary short called Up There, from filmmaker Malcolm Murray. It actually relates a lot to this week's Doc Talk column (up later tonight), in which I take a look at two films about advertising, Art & Copy and the Frontline episode The Persuaders. Also, I think this would be an appropriate pre-show ad to show before the new Banksy doc Exit Through the Gift Shop.

In addition to being a sort of ad itself, Up There is about an aspect of advertising, specifically the dying art of hand-painted billboards. I don't mention it in my column, but Art & Copy also features a billboard worker, but this is so much more interesting. And not just because I regularly see both of the Stella murals from the film in person -- though I am pretty fascinated with now knowing that they are indeed painted (even if done through a pre-designed grid method) and not merely the typical hung-up vinyl kind of sign (those are shown in the film for comparison)

My great-grandfather was a sign painter. I never saw his work, but I always imagined he was like Sissy Spacek's dad in Badlands. He apparently didn't do a whole lot of billboards, though, mostly smaller signs and the sides of delivery trucks. My father got his start as an illustrator by helping his grandpa out with these signs. I honestly didn't know there were people who still do that kind of work, albeit in a much different way than my family did 50 years ago. Maybe I should follow the family tradition and join these guys?

Check the film out for yourself after the jump:

UP THERE from Jon on Vimeo.

[via The Awesomer]