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The Girl and the Red Dress

Shaun MacArthur is a young, aspiring romance novelist with a burning desire to create an original narrative despite his lack of life experience. His unrealistic expectations to both impress his mother and revitalize her writing career begins when he finds his absent father's binoculars and goes to the local woodland area over-looking a swing park. By curious happenstance, he notices a rebellious school-girl, of a similar age, smoking a cigarette which inspires his initial idea for what he believes will be his masterpiece breakthrough novel. Shaun's obsession with perfection coupled with sleep deprivation and an unhealthy enthusiasm for stalking the aforementioned school-girl causes his psychological state to progressively deteriorate. To make matters worse and increasingly more intense, Shaun's mother, after years of sobriety, starts drinking again compromising their once fruitful relationship. A considerable amount of verbal abuse and torment ensues causing Shaun to lose his grip of reality. Unsure of how to finish his story, he confronts the school-girl that he has been secretly watching. Aided by the discovery of a red ballroom dance dress that he finds in his mother's wardrobe, Shaun writes what he believes to be the perfect ending for his story.

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Director Biography - Ryan O'Donnell

Ryan is an aspiring writer/director with a passion for cinema and visual storytelling. He obtained an HND in the creative industries and television from Glasgow Clyde College and his BA Degree in Digital Film Production at SAE Institute Glasgow.


He primarily creates content for his brother’s band (Kyle O), whilst writing and directing his own short film projects. His ambition is to write and direct his own feature film.

Director Statement

The Girl and the Red Dress’ follows Shaun MacArthur, a socially inept, adolescent writer endeavouring to create his best story to date. His source of inspiration eventually comes from a rebellious, unsuspecting schoolgirl smoking in the local park. Shaun develops an infatuation for the girl, causing him to romantically fantasise about their life together. He gathers his thoughts in a scruffy notebook and decides to confront her as he truly begins to lose his grip on reality.

The suspenseful and dark-natured narrative is heavily influenced by the works of both Stanley Kubrick and Alfred Hitchcock, specifically ’The Shining’ and ’Psycho’.

’The Girl and the Red Dress’ is a short psychological-thriller film conveying themes of obsession, motivation, family dynamics and isolation.

I aimed to create a character study focussing on the protagonist's motivations, obsessive tendencies and emotions. By using little dialogue, originally composed music by the talented Adam McDougall, long takes and montage-based story-telling techniques, we attempted to visually communicate the struggles of the protagonist. Exploring key themes, especially obsession and isolation, remain relevant to many young people as they continue to fall victim to overthinking, anxiety and depression in this current climate.

The idea of following a main character fixated on generating a concept in which he deems valuable to the point of obsession has always fascinated me. By putting characters in uncontrollable situations, I hope the spectator feels a sense of relatable isolation which eventually causes Shaun to act uncharacteristically, resulting in regret and despair for not only himself but the people around him.

I was incredibly fortunate to have a great team of creative individuals working alongside me for the duration of this short film production.


I owe a great debt of gratitude to our fantastic cast and crew, especially producer Robin De Vernon Ryding and Cinematographer/Camera Operator Pablo Martin. Using 3 locations, we shot the 12-page script in 5 days.

Still Photos

Genre: Drama/Romance

Release date:  31st October 2021

Run Tme: 10 minutes


Isaac Allen as Shaun MacArthur

Carrie Dodds as Mother

Debbie King as Irene MacArthur

Hannah Marie MacMillan as Diane Anderson


Ryan O'Donnell as Writer/Director/Editor

Robin De Vernon Ryding as Producer

Pablo Martin as Cinematographer

Adam McDougall as Composer

Ellen Norna Francis as First Assistant Director/Production Assistant

Wan Lapp Chan as Second Assistant Director

Nikole Migl as Make Up Artist

Luigi Lanzoni as Sound

Jack McNeil as Gaffer

James Raeburn as Lighting Technician/Still Photographer.

Screenings and Awards

  • Auber International Film Festival

    July 31, 2021

  • Auber International Film Festival

    July 31, 2021

  • Golden Sparrow International Film Festival

    August 5, 2021

  • Golden Sparrow International Film Festival

    August 5, 2021

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