‘Flannel Pajamas’ offers a different kind of love story
"Flannel Pajamas" is a love story, but certainly not in the style of "Romeo and Juliet," or many other "boy-meets-girl" pieces of cinema.
Written and directed by Jeff Lipsky, the film follows the story of two lovers, Stuart and Nichole, who meet in a New York City diner one night through mutual friends; the evening grows into a courtship and an intense relationship full of love and passion.
But as the bond between the two grows closer, their relationship reveals their flaws, their stubbornness and their strength, bringing to light the complexities inherent with love and living together. In that way, the story follows the full course of a relationship, from start to finish, using events in the lives of and moments between the two lead characters, brief scenes taken over a span of months and years. The result is the story of Nichole and Stuart’s entire relationship, and an unedited love story much more holistic than most.
"The impetus to write this story was rooted in autobiography," he noted in the question-and-answer session following the film’s premier. Lipsky said the story was inspired by one of his relationships, which led to a brief marriage, but at the same time, he said the film’s narrative is entirely fictional. He merely used his experiences to establish the characters and place them in a situation; from there, he added other characters of his own invention and let the story run as he thought it might, following its own pattern.
Before "Flannel Pajamas," Lipsky built a career in independent filmmaking, working with John Cassavetes in the late ’70s, and later starting two production companies, October Films and Lot 47. Between his ventures with his production companies, he also wrote and directed his first film, "Childhood’s End."
Hoping to return to a place behind the camera he wrote the script for "Flannel Pajamas" in the year or two after he left Lot 47.
"When I wrote it, I said, this is an amazing piece, especially if I get some incredible actors," Lipsky noted, in an interview with The Park Record.
After sitting on the shelf for about a year while Lipsky searched for a producer, the piece entered pre-production in April of 2004. Lipsky scored his top two choices Julianne Nicholson and Justin Kirk, for the roles of Stuart and Nichole, and the piece began filming at the end of 2004.
According to Lipsky, his hopes for the project came to fruition in the first day on the set.
"It was worth every bit of the sweat, blood, tears and money the day we started principal photography," he said. "To hear them say the words [from the script] was already justification."
The crew spent 29 days shooting, with 24 in New York City and five on location in Montana. After finishing the film’s editing in July, Lipsky said they submitted the piece to the Sundance because it was the next major film festival.
He said he was ecstatic to be a part of the group of competition directors.
"It’s truly a rarified and special event," Lipsky said about the film festival. "They make you feel like you’re deserving of this, and I just hope I am."
Speaking to The Park Record on Sunday, he said his time, so far, has been great.
"I hope the rest of the week is as electrifying as the first four days have been," he concluded.
"Flannel Pajamas" will screen Thursday, Jan. 26 at noon in the Eccles Center in Park City and Friday, Jan. 27 at 6 p.m. in the Tower Theatre in Salt Lake City. For more information, visit http://www.sundance.org.
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The Park City Ice Arena is expected to temporarily close later in 2021 to allow crews to replace the ice surface and perform other maintenance work, one of a series of projects City Hall plans to outline at an upcoming open house. It will be an in-person event.