Private Project

Making Up

Making Up is set in the late 1980s, framed within the gritty drag scene of London's east end. The short film stars BIFA award-winning Dave Johns, Jessica Ellerby and Carey Thring and follows Ted who is diagnosed with a hereditary illness. Ted must therefore reconcile with estranged daughter, Cassandra. However, being a celebrated drag queen, paired with the bitter feelings Cassandra harbours over their past, presents a larger obstacle for Ted to overcome.

  • Ryan Paige
  • Ryan Paige
  • Daniel Pemberton
  • Ryan Paige
  • Amy Ajeto
  • Poppy O'Hagan
  • Dave Johns
    Key Cast
  • Jessica Ellerby
    Key Cast
  • Carey Thring
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    15 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    April 9, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    15,000 GBP
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Country of Filming:
    United Kingdom
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Ryan Paige

Ryan is a Writer/Director with a keen interest in telling entertaining, thought-provoking and relatable stories with plenty of visual, cinematic flair.

Emerging from an artistic background and having studied Film Production at Bournemouth University’s Media School, Ryan has since carved out a career on the editorial side of TV Drama, working on various BAFTA, Emmy and Golden Globe-winning dramas. More recently he has become a Development Executive at a major streamer where he develops and creatively oversees a selection of productions.

Ryan most enjoys collaborating with others to breathe life into stories and get them from page to screen in the most effective and inventive ways. This is complemented by an excitement to engage an audience viscerally whilst introducing them to characters as well as worlds and environments that they may not be so familiar with themselves.

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Director Statement

Having written and directed shorts which required a large amount of world-building and focused on heightened characters in surreal realities, for my next short, I wanted to build yet another world, but one an audience of any community might be at least a little more familiar with.

The idea of Making Up germinated from an evening pint in a well-loved hidden gem of an east end boozer tucked away in Limehouse: The Old Ship. A venue that welcomes an eclectic crowd of old-school codgers and a vibrant LGBTQ+ clientele; I wished to create a family drama set in the 1980s and have such a venue at the heart of this story.

Making Up has always been intended to be brash, brazen and crude – it’s lipstick on teeth, false eyelashes in pints, with plenty of busted heels and tattered sequins thrown in for good measure - the grit that makes the pearl. I wanted to have plenty of fun with the performance sequences and the showy locations, but more importantly, intended to capture an intimate slither of the relationship between an estranged father and daughter, keen to evoke touching and honest performances as we split between Ted’s Technicolor, jovial, fever-dream world and the less impressive real world he has to inhabit as he reaches out to his daughter. Aesthetically, I was inspired by earnest, handheld, naturally-lit (iconic) British dramas as Wonderland, The Full Monty and Billy Elliot to really pile on the nostalgia and give the short that naturalistic edge.

More pertinently, I’ve hoped to represent communities that I’m proud to be a part of and tell their stories. In an endeavour to fully reflect the truth of Ted’s career, I have worked with celebrated UK drag queens, who have been in the cabaret circuit for decades, to ensure we have an authentic approach when telling our story. It’s been important to us to depict a story about an LGBTQ+ protagonist who isn’t one-dimensional. In mainstream cinema, such characters tend to be represented as camp, often mere token inclusions who rarely face a happy ending. In this short, Ted is presented as multi-layered - he’s a grey old sod that outside of work, would be found down the pub with the rest of the east end codgers.

We are telling this story as it’s one that everyone can relate to, irrespective of background. Within every family are secrets, disagreements, issues and struggles that we all strive to overcome. We want to take our audience on an emotional journey, with all of the tacky glamour, vibrancy and inclusivity of Ted’s working world, and all the while explore how attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community have changed drastically since the 80s, and in other ways haven’t, especially in recent months.

Just as our featured song When Will I See You Again raises questions of reconciliation – its uncertainty, unpredictability and the limbo of knowing where you stand - we hope Making Up will draw upon these relatable themes, through both small steps, and big, as audiences engage with our story.