Guest Blogger: Making my film about TS


What Makes Us Tic is a feature-length documentary that aims to increase awareness and understanding of Tourette Syndrome. Through a variety of media including personal interviews, a short film, and an animated robot named R.T.S.T., What Makes Us Tic will illustrate what it’s like to live with Tourette Syndrome, and give audiences a good understanding of the disorder to help stamp out common stigmas and misconceptions.

The filmmaker, Bella Thomson (pictured in this screenshot from an earlier draft of the film), is a high-school student from British Columbia in Canada who has lived with Tourette Syndrome since she was 9 years old. She feels very passionate about raising awareness for the disorder because she’s experienced first-hand the ignorance and lack of understanding that so many people have towards TS, so she’s combined this with her love of film to create a documentary.

OK, enough with the formalities. I’m sure you’re wondering why any teenager in their right mind would attempt to produce a feature-length documentary, and have it finished before they graduate. Well, my best answer to this question (other than that I am just very ambitious) is that I am very driven in my passion to raise awareness for Tourette Syndrome.

To me, if society can come to understand afflictions like cancer or multiple sclerosis, then they can come to understand Tourette Syndrome, and know that it’s morally wrong to mock it, like it is for a lot of disorders or afflictions nowadays. I want people with TS to be able to feel comfortable being themselves, and not afraid of who they are. In short, I want to do my part to make a difference for TS, and I think because I’m still a student living with the disorder, that impact will be so much greater!

Already, producing this documentary has been such a great experiance. It’s taught me so much. This film is actually an extension from a film I did for a school project in grade nine, which was half and hour long. The film turned out really well, but I wanted to make a big impact and there were quite a few technical issues that were inhibiting that success. So I decided in grade eleven to create an updated version of the film!

So far I’ve had a lot of success with this film. I partook in a Changemakers pitch event in November for the film, and won third place in the youth category. As well, I’ve raised a total of over seven hundred dollars on Indiegogo in fundraising for the film. There’s a lot that’s happened in regards to the film since September when I began, and there’s still lots to come!

Right now I’m organizing interviews for the film, and looking for submissions of art projects relating to TS to include in the film. My plans are to conduct interviews in Vancouver at the end of May, and in Edmonton and Calgary at the beginning of August.

In regards to submissions, I’m also looking to include projects created by kids with TS about what it’s like living with the disorder. This could include artwork, poetry, music, dances, theatrical performances, vlogs—you name it!

What I want to do is make this film as student-produced as possible and authentic to what real kids are going through. As well, I’m currently in production of a fictional short film and a one-act play which I’ll include in the documentary. I don’t want to let too much out of the bag at the moment, but these will give two very different perspectives on Tourette Syndrome, from two very different time periods!

So there’s a lot to be excited about, but most of all, I am very excited to have the opportunity to premiere the documentary at the National Conference on Tourette Syndrome Plus on October 23-25 in Vancouver, BC! I’m hoping to see all of you there.

If you’re interested in getting involved with my documentary, please feel free to email me at tic@bellamaria.ca.

You can also visit the film’s website.

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