How to always remember actor names:
- Get a copy of the call sheet for the day or an extra copy if you want to hold onto one yourself.
- Locate the section that lists the cast along with their character names and individual call-times. This is usually on the front side of the call sheet after the list of scenes being shot.
- Cut out that section. Don’t worry about the non-essential parts of this section such as “In” and “Out” times. This is only about remembering names, so cast member and character will suffice.
- Attach it to the camera somewhere that has empty space using camera/cloth tape. Smart side generally works best.
- Reference the list whenever you can’t remember the name of talent.
(See the picture at the top of this post for an example.)
The trick is instead of remembering the names, to reference them instead. I have read other accounts of camera assistants, production assistants, etc. that say it is important to write down names on a list, but someone has already done that for you. It’s a nifty little piece of paper known as a “call sheet” and almost every production sends them out everyday.
This was taught to me by the first assistant camera on Below the Beltway who used to request that at the start of everyday, the list of names was attached to the side of the camera in case he needed to get the attention of one of the actors in the scene. You can see it on the side of the camera in the picture at the top of this post. It isn’t supposed to act as a replacement for learning somebody’s name, but instead it acts as a safety net. It will also help you learn names over time.
Knowing the names of the cast and the crew is an important factor for gaining their respect and maintaining a professional attitude. Almost everybody on set will take their time to learn your name, so you should be making the same effort. Of course, despite best intentions, names can be forgotten for a variety of reasons and for that, they’ll be waiting for you on the side of the camera.