The Pitfalls of doing a lot of short films, or just being me

February 11th, 2011 ~ 8:45 pm

Ok, so for those of you who don’t know me personally, I have a problem recognizing people. I actually had a doctor from Harvard give me a test for Prosopagnosia. While I think his test was a bit flawed at recreating real-world scenarios, it was good enough I guess. His analysis is that I don’t have it, but that I’m much slower at recognizing faces than normal people. I basically have to make a conscious effort to memorize faces. I’ve gotten a lot better these days, and it helps that I only see a certain number of people regularly. Plus facebook is a HUGE help because I can review every so often to refresh my memory on people I rarely see. It was a lifesaver on the set of Leading Ladies.

If you’re thinking, ‘Man, everyone has times when they don’t recognize someone they don’t see very often.’ Well, I once didn’t recognize my sister when she came into work and started talking to me. I realized who she was pretty soon, but there was enough time before that Ah-ha moment to realize there is something wrong in my brain.

So that’s an issue I have anyway. When it comes to acting, it’s something I actually worry about regularly. In a business where networking is so important, it’s awful when you can’t remember what someone looks like at all. Confession time: I can rarely remember what the casting directors look like that I do workshops with. Within a few days of seeing them I’ve forgotten their face. If I’ve gone to multiple workshops, eventually I learn their faces. This is why I try never to be an asshole to a stranger- I might actually know them, and/or they might have jobs for me.

Compounding this issue is that I mostly work on short films, webisodics, etc. which means I meet a lot of people in very short amounts of time. My initial memory tricks of ‘Dark hair, glasses, thin, white guy’, ‘stocky, short hair, black guy in red jacket’, etc. don’t really hold up over time. They do well enough on a set even if I forget names (of course I forget names) because at least I can remember who the AD is and the DP and the makeup person, etc. In the long term they are not so effective. Most of the faces are completely erased and those that stay are fuzzy. The exception being people with really distinctive features and people I spent the most time with. Then I might actually recognize them out of context. Might.

So here’s where my nightmare becomes reality:

This morning I had a USC audition. (I do a lot of USC projects, it’s a great school and I always recommend it to other actors starting out. They are always very professional.) Being on campus, it’s pretty likely I run into some of the students I’ve worked with recently. So I go in the Cinema Arts building and run into a fellow I immediately assume is DirectorA, from the most recent shoot I had with USC. Dark hair, glasses, recognizes me from working together. Yes, must be DirectorA. I tell him I was just talking about him because someone was saying how LA apartments don’t have intercoms and that I recalled seeing one in his apartment. Turns out DirectorA happens to be assisting at the audition I’m going to! Cool! Plus the guy doing the project is an old friend from Boston U., where I went freshman year. So two ‘familiar’ faces.

I go upstairs and see my friend and go in the room while he’s still setting up. I’m like- ‘Oh, I ran into DirectorA downstairs, I just did a project with him.’ I used his ‘actual’ name.

DirectorA joins us and comments on how he was telling my friend about the hassles of the bathroom in the library when we were shooting. I didn’t think it was that annoying because in my head we were shooting outside and I just went downstairs to the bathroom there. ‘Oh, it’s wasn’t so bad!’ I say.

As we are chatting I admit that I copied the short he sent me to my hard drive but forgot to watch it. I felt bad. And then I say how I need it since all my reel footage is old with long hair and that the only short hair stuff I had was from this other USC short I did.

I do the audition and promise I’ll watch the short when I get home. Say bye and leave.

Halfway to my car it hits me that maybe he was not DirectorA at all, but DirectorB fron the year before!! ACK! No wonder he seemed confused by my talking about his apartment and why he was talking about the library, because we were in the basement and it was kind of a hassle (I had a lot of blood on me). His was the film I was referring to that I had used footage from already. I felt bad it’s been a few weeks since receiving my copy, and he thought it had been like a year!

Now I feel like a TOTAL JACKASS.

WOW! So I double check on my phone on Facebook and find a picture of DirectorA. Yep, I am pretty sure I was not talking to that guy. That guy looks more like my friend Asa. DirectorB doesn’t as much.

I call DirectorB and leave a message to apologize and let him know I watched and used the footage long ago. And I explain it’s just an issue I have sometimes. I didn’t hear back from him, but I’m assuming he had a good laugh and maybe thinks I’m a ditz.

It was seriously the most farcical, sit-com style situation I’ve had in a long time, maybe ever. I think that’s also the longest I’ve gone before realizing who I was actually talking to. It just so happened I used the bathroom int eh library for both. I think if I hadn’t I’d have realized it sooner.

Man, I don’t get embarrassed very easily, but that will do it!

So, yeah, if you know me and I am being weird and maybe don’t seem like I recognize you, it’s nothing personal.


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