"Jane is ambitious and disciplined, but her work-driven life is starting to take a toll."
Tick is a short film directed by Levin Tamoj and Fabienne Priess about a young woman whose ambition and obsession with work drive her to burnout. The short was produced as a second-year project at renowned German school Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg.
Two characters (one of them a fish), external conflict, a critical look at the excesses of ambition and a work-centered life, and a comedic approach are the main elements of the short.
Staged in the interior of an apartment (urban location), Tick offers a portrait of a busy life and how a character’s psychology and perception of her environment deteriorate due to her ambition and obsession with work. An illustration of the consequences of setting one’s priorities the wrong way in life. The short questions one of the main values of modern-day society, the idea that being overly busy with work equals being successful. The aesthetic plays a key role in conveying Jane’s life, through character and environment design, props, iconography, etc. Color and lighting help transmit passage of time, mood, highlight the fish character in the frame, etc. Good effort has been dedicated to framing and composition of elements.
Ellipses abound. In order to describe Jane’s workaholic life, the short uses frequent jumps in time and repetition of sequential actions (coffee-making among them). These are interspersed with shots of the hungry fish waiting for its food.
Visual rhythm is high, handled mostly through editing, and also through a few camera moves, changes in lighting, shifts in focus and motion within the frame. Close-ups and medium shots abound, to capture the expression of the woman character, to describe the work she’s doing, show the accumulating to-do lists and how the excess of caffeine affects her. A few long shots are used to capture the apartment and for reveal effect, with a surprise shift to non-realistic staging. It’s worth noting the attention to detail dedicated to describing Jane’s busy life, such as the empty fridge with the keys in it, the worn out objects, the light left on during daylight, etc. Sound design also helps greatly in conveying the work-focused life with an emphasis on coffee-making as a recurring theme.
What makes Tick work so well? A creative portrait of the life of a workaholic, effective use of conflict to hook the viewer, great use of staging and cinematography, elements of surprise and humor, and a critical look at one of modern societies’ most promoted values, which can easily lead to unhappiness when it goes out of balance. A subject that will appeal to a wide audience.