Why Biographies are Great For Research
When looking at the best ways out there to do research for a movie several ideas come to my mind. Books, novels, other movies, history books… but the one that stands out the most for several reasons is biographies.
Why biographies then?
Biographies are the kind of books that most people read and love or hate but that they have a lot of hidden truths. And that’s what people are after. Those ideas that whatever how much time passes by, will always keep being true.
What is a biography?
Because what we are analyzing when reading a biography it’s the actual events that took place because of some definite causes. All told from a subjective perspective (this means a biased perspective).
And that, essentially, it’s story.
In a story, even if there isn’t a character or characters telling the story, there is an author behind the keyboard that sets up certain situations that end up having definite consequences.
It’s the same with thing a screenplay that is a screenwriter writing a story about some definite characters that are in some definite situations and they take actions that have direct consequences within the world of the story. It is almost a thesis on a theme that results in a very specific even biased conclusion.
So why biographies stand out so much for screenplay research?
Because they are all the same than a screenplay in the sense that they are mostly “visual” and that they are based on conflictive situations and character driven stories.
In what sense do I mean visual?
They are visual stories in the sense that in biographies you focus on facts and on what actually happened, not on the thoughts and the feelings of the main character. This is what novels can do that movies can’t. In a movie what you see is what you get, in a book you can get inside the character’s head and know exactly what he is thinking.
What are conflictive situations?
Conflictive situations are the ones where the motivations and actions of certain characters clash. Then a conflict is created. This means that each and every character must want something and that desire gets into conflict with the desire of other characters.
What are character driven stories?
In biographies they usually skip all the thoughts, almost all the feelings of the main character and focus on specific situations in his life that had specific consequences. And these specific situations that I am talking about are usually turning points in his or her life’s story that change the course of their story. Most of these turning points are conflictive situations in which the person in hand has to choose between several options that will change the course of his life.
So I hope that you give biographies a try and find the hidden truths that helped those people become great at what they did!