Five years ago, when I started auditioning at the Film School, I didn't know anyone. When I went in twice yearly to audition, there would be a new trio of faces behind the camera and directing the action. Over the last year and a half, I have been sufficiently involved that the faces behind the audition table are frequently ones that I have encountered on one project or several projects as the students cycle through the various responsibilities involved in making a film.
When Laura walked out to call me, I could mentally check off one face (and Facebook friend). Another young woman in the room is a student I have dealt with, but not someone I have worked with extensively so that interaction was okay with a "hey how are you?". But the student behind the camera is a student I have worked with on enough films that I have lost count. I said, "Oh, I think you auditioned me last time." He said, "No, I didn't work auditions last time." Backpedal, backpedal. I kind of brushed it off, naming the person who auditioned me last time. But I was still struggling to name this person.
This names/faces problem is really, really irritating!!
I vaguely remember hearing an ABC news story about faceblindness awhile back and thinking, "hey! I feel that way a lot!" I remember running into Carladenise Edwards, someone I was meeting with several times a month at the time, in Publix once and literally having no idea who she was. The list of these types of incidents in my life is pretty long by now. (By the way, this is one reason I am such a huge fan of Scott Ginsberg, also known as "The Nametag Guy," who has worn a nametag for the last 3,616 days.)
Why did my interaction at the Film School, just another incident like all the others, matter enough to make it blogworthy? It matters because when I fail to recognize someone that I have been involved in a project with, for a cause/enterprise we are both passionate about, I can't help but feel that the person feels minimized or less important. It matters because, although acting talent is the absolute main thing that a film student looks for when casting a role, I don't want to be the one that the student's main recollection is, "oh yeah, she's the one who didn't remember my name." It matters because, after reading Still Alice (about early onset Alzheimer's Disease), I didn't feel any better about this problem.
When I started researching material for this blog tonight, I realized that this onion is going to have many, many layers now that I have started peeling it. There is a Yahoo group devoted to the problem (the medical disorder is called Prosopagnosia, but I am not self-diagnosing, just confirming that I share similar frustrations) and blogs.
I would be interested in hearing about your experiences with names/faces difficulty, along with any strategies you have for coping. I have tried this:
But, as my experience today showed, I am far from being any kind of "memory champion"!
In the meantime, bear with me if I ask your name again (and again). And if you have a juicy role coming up in your film (or not juicy, just a role) (or a job trimming beer bottle labels for the breakaway beer bottles!), let's face it, all you have to do is call my name.