Several years ago, I made a Surrealist short film that people seemed to like — it won some awards at film festivals, etc., and led to a fair amount of paying work, so (locally, anyway), some people took me to be a successful independent filmmaker. I was asked to screen the film and do a Q&A afterward for a non-profit that sponsored local, usually small-town, screenings and film education programs in various communities, and I agreed.
So I pack up the car, DVD screener in hand, and drive most of the way to Louisiana for the Q&A in Beaumont, Texas. The local community college film/media program is co-sponsoring it in some way, and the screening takes place essentially in the back storage room of an art gallery or pottery studio of some kind located in this odd, dark part of town with maybe a single streetlight for several blocks around.
I meet the guy whose event it is, and he’s great, very passionate for helping local filmmakers, and it’s a really cool night. There’s maybe 20 people there, including several local kids who had made their own movies (I remember a vampire short and a music video) and were getting to screen them in front of an audience for the first time. Then they screen my film last, introduce me, and invite me up to the front to field questions…
…where I discover that a guy sitting in the front row has no face. And I mean that literally. He has no face. Just eyes, and then a flat expanse of skin, and a small slit for a mouth.
George Carlin had a bit about going to shake a guy’s hand, and then realizing that the person doesn’t have a complete hand. As much as you want to let go, you have to keep shaking hands and pretend like it feels great. Very similar situation. The guy at the screening was very nice and everything, and I remain completely impressed that despite whatever accident or anomaly had resulted in his condition he was still out and about and participating in community events. But I remember that night most for the stunning moment when I walked up to the front of the room, and for a brief second, was utterly convinced that I was having some kind of very odd, very vivid dream.
Because when I went to go answer questions about my Surrealist short film, there was a guy sitting three feet away from me that had no face.