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THESE BOOTS ARE MADE FOR WALKIN’

By Marci Liroff
I’m going to give you the secret to really feeling your character when you’re on stage, on a set, or in an audition. It’s so simple you’ll kick yourself that you didn’t think of it. Shoes. Yes, shoes! The right shoes will plant you so deeply in your character; it’ll be hard to walk away. The wrong shoes will screw you up so badly you’ll fall on your face – literally!
Recently, I was casting the leads in a feature film, “Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters”, and the scene we chose had the character in a training session. She was sparring with her teacher. Most of the actresses who came in really “got it” and wore either sneakers or flat boots with no heel. Some, inexplicably, came in wearing thigh-high boots with platforms and 6” heels. One poor gal tried a kickboxing inspired move and landed on her ass. We changed the appointment sheet to instruct actresses NOT wear high heels or any kind of heels. Still, several actresses still came in wearing the thing we specifically told them not to wear. What does this signal to us? Unfortunately it shows us that you are not able to take simple direction and aren’t thinking. It’s such a small thing, I know, but if you aren’t paying attention to the small details you can’t grasp the bigger stuff. I take great pains to help you so that when you come in for an audition for me you’re prepared, informed and there’s one less thing you have to worry about.
Los Angeles actor and teacher Jeffrey Marcus says, “Taking the time to choose a pair of shoes that my character would wear usually sets off a domino effect of conscious and unconscious revelations and discoveries that further enhance the characters’ life for me. Shoes tell a lot about the man (or woman) and assist me in moving into the walk, talk and backstory. As an exercise, observe the shoes of those around you, and create a detailed biography. Shoes tell more about a person than any other article of clothing. The Native Americans say to “Never judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.” Since actor rule #1 is “don’t judge your character”, I take that literally and believe that by putting on a special pair of shoes, you can enter into an imaginary world with compassion. Don’t forget the appropriate socks!”
The same is true for wearing the right clothes for an audition. Years ago I was casting the film “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” – which largely took place at a rehearsal dinner and a wedding. Most actresses were so smart and came in wearing cocktail dresses and heels, and the men in suits and ties. I was shocked when a couple of actresses came in wearing jeans shorts and flip flops – for one of the leads in the film – to read for the director and myself. What does that tell me? How an actor dresses for an audition indicates to us how you’re thinking. Now I’m not saying you have to get “costumey” – far from it. Remember, we take these audition videos to our filmmaking team who isn’t in the room. If you already look like the part because you’re dressed so convincingly, half the battle is won.

Hot tip for the ladies: Because our casting office may be on one side of the lot and the parking lot may be miles away sometimes  – bring a pair of flip flops or flats with you so you can make the hike to our office and not hurt your feet!! Also, batting your eyelashes and flirting with the guy on the golf cart and asking for a ride is totally acceptable!!
Do you have any questions for me? Feel free to ask them here!

We welcome your comments and suggestions.

 Glad you’re here!
Marci

Comments

  1. One of my favorite things about auditioning is “shopping” in my closet for the right outfit to wear! Sometimes I”ll come up with combinations that I’d normally not wear because it fits the character so well.

    And for flats to keep in the car for long walks on the lot, I highly recommend foldable flats (like these http://www.amazon.com/Dr-Scholls-Fast-Flats-Size/dp/B0040BGK6S ). They are cheap enough so if I lose them I’m not too upset and they fold up nicely in my purse while I’m auditioning.

  2. Love this article! Not only do you make the topic fun, but you also bring in real world examples that help illustrate the points you’re making. What a resource! 🙂

  3. Thanks Marci, for your terrific blog, “common sense” approach advice and insight! I agree, and have chosen appropriate shoes for attending auditions or working on set. I’ll be more than happy to share this with fellow actors..with my comfy shoes on!

  4. Anonymous says:

    For uni we swapped shoes and had to look and decide details about that person without knowing the person. as a get to know u game we were surprisingly accurate

  5. Anonymous says:

    Is it true that some auditions are just fake and directors can already have people picked out for the role their casting, they just hold the auditions so they won’t be sued or something? Because I saw something like that on bunheads

    • I’ve been casting film and television for well over 30 years. Do you think I would be involved in a project that held fake auditions?! Who has time for that!

  6. Fantastic article, Marci! I had a wonderful professor at Vassar who encouraged us to bring two pairs of shoes to every audition – the ones we had been wearing all day, and a second pair that belonged to our character. His idea was that the act of changing shoes was a mini-ritual and an opportunity to step outside of yourself-the-actor and into yourself-the-character, inviting in all those revelations and discoveries Jeffrey mentioned.

    Thank you again and again for the great resource!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Wear something that’s indicative of the character—but not a costume. Check out my blog “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ ” for more on how to dress for an […]

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