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Short Starts: Watch “Like Crazy” Director Drake Doremus’s “The Shirt”

Short Starts: Watch "Like Crazy" Director Drake Doremus's "The Shirt"

Short Starts is a column devoted to kicking off the week with a short film, typically one tied to a new release. Today we look at an early film by Drake Doremus, director of “Like Crazy,” which opens in limited release this Friday.

I’m very anxious to see Drake Doremus‘s new film, “Like Crazy,” not just because it won this year’s Sundance Grand Jury prize and a Special Jury Prize for actress Felicity Jones, but also because former Spout intern Daniel Walber gave it a rave review out of Toronto last month, and Dan is not an easy critic. Truth be told, I haven’t even yet seen the filmmaker’s 2010 Sundance film, “Douchebag,” despite all its praise from other critics I trust. So Doremus’s weird and sweet 2006 short film, “The Shirt,” is my first taste of his work.

And it’s a good bite at that. Co-written by Lindsay Stidham, a collaborator on two prior films and two following this (including “Douchebag”), and made for a reported budget of $500, the film stars Tobias McKinney as a morose library worker who believes finding a perfect new shirt will lift his spirits. He searches the windows of local shops and then begins trying on every tee and button-down for sale at a thrift shop. While there, he catches the concerned eye of Violet (Leslie Zang), who attempts to help him in his quest. Instead, she becomes the key to the film’s metaphor.

Given that “Like Crazy” has been celebrated for its portrayal of a relationship, I latched onto the romantic side of “The Shirt.” It’s not the most subtle short in terms of its main idea, yet the relationship between the characters is done implicitly through the search for this clothing that will presumably change the guy’s life and make him happy. By the film’s end, we’re reminded that neither objects or people can bring us happiness — that’s up to us on our own — and at the same time great things, be they shirts or girls, come about when you’re not looking.

Watch the short after the jump.

One more thing: I want to thank Doremus for putting his short up on YouTube a few years ago, partly in response to a post by Erik Davis, then of Cinematical. I sure wish more filmmakers were gracious enough to do so with their early work. And not just for this column. For the enjoyment of short film fans in general.

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