How To Write Biopic Screenplay

Learning how to write a biopic screenplay can be a challnge. A biopic screenplay is a story that centers around the life of someone famous, whether the subject is a celebrity, a politician or other historical figure. A biopic screenplay must fulfill two purposes. The first purpose is to enlighten your audience about the subject of your story; the second purpose is to provide entertainment. A biopic screenplay without a story is documentary. The challenge is to find a way to balance information with entertainment to deliver a successful biopic screenplay.

  1. Research your characters and the story. Don't settle for one take on everything. Read all you can find on your subject, interview anyone who can provide additional information, and sort through the research until you find the kernel of your story.
  2. Set aside the research you will use and sift through it to find the focus of your story kernel. While writing a biopic screenplay, outline your story as you go. The point of a biopic screenplay is to tell a story within a story. If your screenplay is based around someone like General George Custer, it's going to be impossible to write a script that includes every detail of his life from the day he was born until the day he died. Even if you could, the screenplay would be boring. Not everything Custer, or anyone, has ever done in his life would be something an audience would want to see. Choose an event from Custer's life, or several small events, that culminate to the crux of the story. Custer's hatred toward American Indians would be an example here.
  3. Focus your story and use creative license. Creative license includes changing actual events and dialogue to make them more entertaining to moviegoers. Since you're writing about true events, you should not allow creative license to definitely change the true events, but to present those events in a way they likely could have occurred without altering the main outcome of the story. To what degree you use creative license will depend upon your writing style and how entertaining the story is without it.
  4. Secure legal permission to use anyone in your story currently alive. Consult a legal attorney here. It may be legal to use public figures and events of public knowledge in some cases, but having a lawyer on hand can help avoid lawsuits from anyone involved in the story.
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