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 actors 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 six-inch heels. One poor gal tried a kickboxing inspired move and landed on her ass. We changed the appointment sheet to instruct actors NOT wear high heels or any kind of heels. Still, several actors 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 actors 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 to read for the director and myself for one of the leads in the film. 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 “costume-y” – 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!
Known for her work in film and television, Casting Director Marci Liroff has worked with some of the most successful directors in the world such as Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, Mark Waters, Christopher Nolan, Brad Bird, and Herbert Ross. While working at Fenton-Feinberg Casting, she, along with Mike Fenton, cast such films as “A Christmas Story," “Poltergeist," “E.T. – The Extra Terrestrial," “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," and “Blade Runner." After establishing her own casting company in 1983, Liroff cast “Footloose," “St. Elmo's Fire," “Pretty in Pink," “The Iron Giant," “The Spitfire Grill," “Untamed Heart," “Freaky Friday," “Mean Girls," “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past," “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” and the upcoming “The Sublime and Beautiful,” which she produced as well.
Liroff is also an acting coach, and her three-night Audition Bootcamp has empowered actors to view the audition process in a new light. The class spawned a DVD, which features the highlights of the Audition Bootcamp classes.