H.M. is a two-channel presentation of a single film based on the true story of an anonymous, memory-impaired man, the famous amnesiac known in scientific literature only as "Patient H.M." In 1953, when he was 27 years old, H.M. underwent experimental brain surgery intended to alleviate his epilepsy. The unintended result was a radical and persistent amnesia. Though he was no longer able to make lasting memories, his short-term recall, lasting about 20 seconds, remained intact. He lived anonymously in this condition for more than half a century until his death on December 2, 2008, in a Connecticut nursing home. His case is widely credited with revolutionizing our understanding of the organization of human memory.
H.M. consists of a single 16mm film that plays through two adjacent synchronized projectors with a 20 second delay between them, so the viewer sees two simultaneous side-by-side projections of two different parts of the same reel of film. The structure of the installation and the nature of the material together produce a sensation of mnemonic dissonance much like that experienced by Patient H.M.
The roughly 18-minute loop weaves together reenacted, documentary, found and animated elements and lies somewhere between an experimental documentary and an independent narrative film.
Several ancillary projects were produced in conjunction with H.M., including a series of letterpress prints, drawings, and photographs.
Cast (in order of appearance):
Patient H.M. – Darrell Sandeen
Suzanne Corkin / Female Voiceover – Herself
Chiel (Graduate Student) – Sashi Bommakanty
Robert (Graduate Student) – Jonathan Davidson
Male Voiceover – Justin Dray
H.M.’s hands – Jerry Reynolds
Stand-in for Prof. Corkin – Deborah Ishida
Background – Robin G. Durr, Deirdre Weston, Linda L. Sandeen,
Nanciann Horvath, Joseph Mosconi, Melissa Coleman Reed, Benjamin Tong, Louise Yount, Daniel Ingroff, Enid Barkan
Set Dresser: Megan Lindeman
Chief Lighting Technician: Mike Parry
Lighting Technician: Trish Herremans
Assistant Lighting Technician: Jeff Truman
First Assistant Camera: Justin Browne
Second Assistant Camera: John O’Connell
Key Grip: William M. Hewson
Grip: Joel Michalak
Sound Recordist: Reza Moosavi, Lee Ascher
Second Unit Camera: Caleb Johnson
Script Supervisor, Animations: Jamie Chan
Hair and Makeup: Robin Black for Frank Management
Still Photographer: Ian Brook, Suzanne Mejean
Wardrobe: Qadriyyah Shamsid-Deen
Key Production Assistant: Juan Carlos Rodriguez
Production Assistants: Josh Desure, Britt Ringer,
Margaret Haines, Rachal Bradley
Casting Assistance kindly provided by: Kris Nicolau, Skirts Casting
Legal Counsel kindly provided by: Susan Estrich
Character Research: Suzanne Corkin, Philip J. Hilts, Ross Pastel, Hillel Chiel
All dialogue adapted from transcribed experiments and interviews conducted with patient H.M. at MIT in 1977 and 1992. Portions of the male voiceover inspired by Philip J. Hilts’ Memory’s Ghost: The Nature of Memory and the Strange Tale of Mr. M. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.
Filmed at Sets in the City, Santa Clarita, CA and locations in and around Hartford, CT and Mt. Desert Island, ME.