‘Jean Shorts’ will debut Thursday at Loomis



By Jim Vorel

When a person thinks of stylish clothing, certain images come to mind, like the slickly dressed denizens of a swanky night club, or the guests of an expensive socialite gala.

For everyday occasions, these stylish threads are more likely to be found being modeled in the pages of fashion magazines and on students strutting along the Quad in emulation. However, one piece of clothing that probably doesn’t come to mind is the frayed edges and dangling fibers of a worn pair of Jean shorts. After all, it is difficult to imagine a fashionable icon like James Bond approaching the bar in his favorite pair of jean shorts to order his martini; shaken, not stirred.

Jean shorts make an unusual central theme in the film of three senior student directors. Their film, titled “Jean Shorts,” is a compilation of shorts (no pun intended) taking place in a small Illinois town that resembles Champaign, all in the course of the same day.

The film was co-directed by Roshan Murthy, senior in LAS, and Samuel Copeland, senior in FAA. The film, with the screenplay written by Kevin Walsh, senior in Communications, along with Murthy and Copeland, will be shown at Loomis Lab on Green Street on Thursday at 8:30 p.m.

“Jean shorts are sort of the core of the film,” said Murthy. “We’re addressing a very specific little issue here – the faux pas of wearin jean shorts in this day and age.”

Murthy added that the movie is about more than just jean shorts, though they do include that into the story. Mostly, he said, the story is just a collage of comical situations that the characters get mixed up into. The paths of the characters in the shorts will all cross, said Murthy.

“Two characters in particular who wear jean shorts are antagonized by this guy, Chaz, who thinks he’s really cool,” Murthy said. “One of the characters becomes ashamed of his shorts and stops wearing them, and then has to decide whether or not he’s made the right choice.”

The jean shorts themselves were salvaged from the closets of the 15 cast members of the film, some having not been worn in quite some time. Several other pairs of jean shorts were created by cutting full-length jeans, giving them dangling jean fibers where the cut was made.

Murthy, Copeland and the rest of the crew have been working on the film since early August. It clocks in at more than 35 minutes, longer than Murthy expected, or intended. He said that the inventiveness of the cast in ad-libbing new lines and suggesting entirely new scenes made the project grow above and beyond his expectations.

“It’s a really fun, funny movie,” Murthy said. “It’s a lighter issue, and anybody can enjoy it, whether or not you’ve ever worn jean shorts.”

Copeland, co-director of the film, said that the most difficult part of shooting the filming was meeting the deadline that the crew had set.

“We set the deadline before we were even close to being finished filming, and used that to motivate us to get it all done,” Copeland said. “The idea started out as sort of just a compilation of shorts before we realized we could tie them all together with jean shorts.”

Copeland said he was once a proud owner of jean shorts but that he eventually laid them to rest in his closet, where they sat, until the filming of “Jean Shorts” began.

“It does feel a little strange to wear them again,” he admitted. “They’re really sort of their own style.”

Phil Robinson, senior in Engineering and actor in “Jean Shorts,” remained in Champaign during the summer filming scenes for the movie. He said his character is actually the same one he played in a previous movie directed by Murthy titled “Stage Game.” It was the first-place winner in the 2006 Monumental Short Film Festival, sponsored by University Housing.

“My favorite part of the movie is probably the credit sequence,” Robinson said. “The entire cast does the Michael Jackson dance from ‘Billy Jean’ in the Krannert parking lot.”

The production team of “Jean Shorts” will be collecting donations at the showing for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, in Memphis, Tenn., and giving out DVD copies of “Jean Shorts” to people who donate.

For Murthy and Copeland, the film is the next step in their development as filmmakers. Both will graduate this year, and have interest in attending film school and seeing where their film-making abilities will take them. The pair also intends on continuing to show films in Champaign. Murthy said he thinks the pair’s next film might be an “action epic.”

“We’re just trying to have a good time making as many different kinds of films as we can,” Murthy said. “Hopefully people will keep turning out to see our movies.”