Speaking to IFTN about the project, director Maya Derrington said the idea for the film came from walking the streets of Dublin and encountering people wearing pyjamas as daywear for the first time. “It brought out a surprise reaction in me, I was surprised that I was so shocked by this, I started asking myself why it shocked me so much."
“I then noticed that whenever I talked to people about the subject they always tended to have very strong emotional responses. My personal response wasn’t necessarily a negative one but I noticed that a lot of people out there do have very negative responses to people wearing pyjamas during the day. It just really fascinated me why the topic fires people up so much.”
The wearing of pyjamas in public first emerged on the streets of Dublin during the early years of the new century and since then it has become increasingly popular in the city’s most disadvantaged areas: “I was also really intrigued by what inspired the girls themselves to launch this trend, it’s not necessarily a fashion orientated statement but it’s definitely a statement of sorts even if it is a very gentle statement.”
Filming at the Basin Street Flats in Dublin City, ‘Pyjama Girls’ focuses principally on teenagers, tracking the intense micro-dramas of teenage life in the close-knit community. The project is a collaboration between Still Films and The Irish Film Board.
With Denise Woods, Paddy Jordan and Maya lending their skills over the course of the shoot as D.O.P’s, Nicky Gogan is producer.
Wearing pyjamas in Dublin city during the day has provoked furious debates, online rants and anger according to Maya, “there is even a Facebook site set up by pyjama haters and they say the most shocking things. I think it’s just so bizarre that people get so incredibly worked up by this subject.”
Taking into consideration the changes that have materialised in our society in the last year and the natural life cycle of trends and fads Maya said that there has been no major evolution since the documentary commenced shooting, “In the area where we are filming there hasn’t been any major changes, different individuals will stop wearing pyjamas as they start going through different life stages but I haven’t noticed the phenomena changing. People are always seen wearing pyjamas around the city so it’s certainly an ongoing trend not a fad.”
Pyjama wearing isn’t a specifically Irish phenomenon with cases cropping up in Shanghi and many cities across the UK.
Pyjamas are banned in a lot of public spaces in Dublin and Belfast, in schools, community centers and dole offices. Maya has spoken to community workers about this ban as part of the documentary and “Community workers feel by banning pyjamas they are encouraging people to have self-respect, by making the effort to get dressed to come out.”
The documentary, whilst it is very much about community, has principal characters emerging over the course of filming, “Our subjects are young females and one of the interests in the observational dimension of the project is the way teenage female lives tend to be a part of society that we hear very little from. So this demographic group making a statement is something that certainly merits a closer look.”
Hoping to complete the project by the end of the year editor Paul Rowley, who is based in New York, will cut the final documentary.
The team will enter ‘Pyjama Girls’ in some of the forthcoming film festivals upon it’s completion. Maya hopes that this specific project will follow in the footsteps of 'Still Films' previously IFTA nominated documentary 'Seaview'