First impressions are really important, especially in the dating world. If you mess-up that first date, there probably won’t be a second. Josef Bates’ short film TIC invites its audience to play third wheel on one such encounter, as we get a table-side seat when the nervous Dave (Will Merrick) meets Jess (Emma Mackey) at a restaurant. A car-crash comedy, that’s as uncomfortable as it is funny, will Dave be able to beat his Tourettes and win the heart of his potential partner?
Based on his own experiences, Bates was diagnosed with Tourettes Syndrome at 14 and struggled to deal with his condition throughout school and his adolescence. “My Tourettes acted in a very similar way to Dave’s in the film (Maybe without the leg-stabbing and violence)”, the director reveals, “I wanted to make a film which demonstrated this un-seen look at Tourettes.”
“It’s ok to laugh! Just know why you’re laughing”
Hoping to alter preconceptions about Tourettes, that Bates believes have been “ingrained in peoples minds due to the amount of reality shows and documentaries on the subject”, he wanted to show tourettes can be funny, but for more than just swearing. “The awkwardness and ridiculousness of the disorder is where the humour comes from”, Bates explains. “It’s ok to laugh! Just know why you’re laughing.”
Driven by the performances of it’s talented cast – Will Merrick (Skins) and Emma Mackey (Sex Education) play dating duo Dave & Jess – Bates used improv in rehearsal to bring the words on the page to life and inject his short with energy and fun. The pleasure/amusement the director and his team put into the short shines brightly when viewing TIC and really adds to the impact of the film.
It’s a story based on the director’s real life struggles, but he’s allowing us to laugh at what most will find agonisingly uncomfortable. Bates uses humour to not only provide entertainment in his short, but to help spread the message of his piece in an easily digestible manner. He gets his point across, makes you reconsider any assumptions you might have made about Tourettes without it ever feeling preachy and he didn’t need to put a PSA-type message before his end credits to do so.
TIC made a good first impression on me when I saw it play as part of the Joy to the World programme at the 2019 edition of the BFI London Film Festival. I obviously wasn’t the only person impressed, as Bates’ short is now in the process of being developed as a TV show for Channel 4, with the filmmaker revealing he’s excited to “expand on the story we started with Dave and Jess and provide more of a world for these characters.”