Biography examples: How to write a biography?

Wherever you present your screenplay or idea, people will want to know who you are and what you have done before. Therefore, it is essential that you prepare a biography and filmography that reflects your past achievements. In this post, we will focus on biography examples. Before preparing a biography and filmography it is very important to determine what information is necessary and important.

Biography

It would be wrong to see the biography as a text filled with personal expressions that you need to explain exactly who you are. The biography that you will add to your project file for your screenplay is not a document of this kind, but rather a technical text that mentions your trainings and achievements. So our first and most important advice to you is to avoid personal statements when writing biographies. (In our previous post we have stated that you should write your personal opinions in the screenwriter’s statement document: Scriptwriter: How to write a scriptwriter’s statement?)

Biographies are written in the third person. So you should talk about yourself as a third person. Now let’s focus on how to write a biography. Let’s divide the biography into 3 sections and give a list of what you can talk about in each section.

I. Section

  • Name
  • Birthplace and date
  • Job
  • Years of professional experience

Let’s prepare a biography example based on this information:

Metin Erksan was born in 1929 in Canakkale, Turkey. He has been working as a screenwriter and director since 1953.

II. Section

  • Education
  • Professional training and professional workshops
  • Brief information about achievements

You do not need to mention primary and secondary education. You should specify your higher education even it is in a field other than filmmaking. But professional trainings and workshops should be about filmmaking or screenwriting. These could be scriptwriting or short film workshops you attended.

All of your work will already take place in filmography, so you only need to mention the most important of your concrete achievements. These achievements may include festival screenings, awards, supports, and funds you receive for your projects.

Let’s continue to write a biography example based on this information:

Erksan studied History of Art at Istanbul University and directed more than 30 feature films. His film, Dry Summer (1963), was the first Turkish film that received the Golden Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival.

III. Section

  • What you are doing now
  • Supports and funds that you receive for the project you are working on

What are you doing now? You may be continuing your studies or working in an alternative profession. After specifying these, you can talk about your current projects. This could be the development workshops you participated in or the supports and funds you received. If Metin Erksan was still alive and makes films, we would probably finish the biography example like this:

His latest film, supported by the Ministry of Culture, is in the port-production stage.

That’s what you need to mention in a biography example. Now let’s talk about a few things you need to pay attention to.

Biography examples: Contact Info

We advise you not to include your contact information, social media accounts and photos in your biography unless specifically requested. Such information is usually included in the application forms or requested separately from the project dossier.

Biography examples: Fictitious interview

In the biography, you should not give the impression that an imaginary journalist has made an interview with you and the biography has been written out of your answers. For example, We recommend that you do not use such statements: ‘Serap has been writing short stories since 2008. If she did not write, she would go crazy’. It is the best choice for you to extract expressions other than what you have achieved professionally.

Biography examples: Misleading

You may have just started your career and have only had little success to mention in the biography. It is okay: Just indicate what you find most important for you. But if you don’t have many things to say you can just skip it. You shouldn’t try to pretend that you’ve very successful and try to mislead a professional evaluator. Here are two very obvious misleading cases:

I. Cannes Short Film Corner

Cannes Film Festival, one of the world’s most prestigious film festivals, has a short film market called Cannes Short Film Corner. Every year, thousands of short film directors and producers participate in this market to promote their films. It is not very difficult to take part in this market and, of course, it is more than okay participating in such an event, but it would be misleading to write that ‘my film was shown at the Cannes Film Festival‘ in your biography. Because there is a big difference between showing a film in one of the most prestigious festivals in the world and being presented in a market where thousands of films take place.

As the word ‘Cannes’ is included in your biography, you can receive congratulations from your peers on your social media accounts or be successfully launched by the local or national media who do not know the subject and even you can create a small public opinion. But you can’t fool a professional who knows the essence. If you participate in the market, you should express it as participating in the market.

Biography examples
A photo of events at the Cannes Short Film Corner.
Biography examples
The famous Grand Theater Lumiere in Cannes Film Festival.

II. Short film awards

Nowadays it is almost impossible to find a short film that is not awarded. There are many awards received from the festivals that we don’t know clearly how they are organized. The availability of opportunities in European countries makes it possible for even small cinema groups to organize festivals. There are many film festivals in various countries such as India which has a large population. Some festivals in the United States do not make physical screenings and they make monthly or even weekly competitions.

Awards in these organizations can, of course, be valuable and beneficial in the developmental process of a filmmaker, but the awards you receive at such festivals should not be presented as great successes. You can market your achievements as you wish on social media, but you should remember that the people who will evaluate your screenplay are more aware of the cinema industry than your Instagram followers.

Filmography

The list of the film projects you worked in is called filmography. You can divide the filmography into sections according to your roles in the projects and specify the information of the projects such as name, year, genre, duration, festival screenings, and awards. You need to pay attention that your newest project should be at the top. If your project is in development, you can specify it and write the funds and supports you received.

According to this information, let’s write a part of Metin Erksan’s filmography and prepare a filmography example:

Screenwriter and Director

Criminals Among Us | 1964 | Drama | 01’38”

Milano Film Festival, Best Social Film, 1965

Dry Summer | 1963 | Drama | 01’30”

Berlin Film Festival, Golden Bear Award, 1964

Next post: Film pitch: How to pitch a screenplay?

Previous post: Scriptwriter: How to write a scriptwriter’s statement?

Biography and Filmography FAQ

What is a biography?

It would be wrong to see the biography as a text filled with personal expressions that you need to explain exactly who you are. The biography that you will add to your project file for your screenplay is not a document of this kind, but rather a technical text that mentions your training and achievements.

What is filmography?

The list of the film projects you worked in is called filmography.

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