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Film and Digital Media

Basic Biographical Sources

There are countless biographical sources; listed below are a selected few that provide brief information.
American Screenwriters
Main Library Reference PS 21 .D5 v. 26
American Screenwriters: Second Series
Main Library Reference PS 21 .D5 v. 44
Both volumes are part of the Dictionary of Literary Biography (DLB) series, and each contains rather lengthy essays on the careers of 65 significant motion-picture writers, accompanied by lists of screenplays and other writings, photographs, and bibliographic references. Generally, writers in other media who wrote for the screen only occasionally and those whose film careers consisted mainly of adapting their own works for the screen are omitted.
Contains biographical information on over one million individuals from all time periods, geographical locations, and fields of endeavor. The "Biographical Facts Search" allows searching for people based on one or more personal facts, such as occupation (which includes the categories "Actor," "Actress," "Director," "Producer," etc.).
Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television
Main Library Reference PN 2012 .W5
An ongoing biographical reference series providing brief biographical information and credits of performers, directors, writers, producers, designers, technicians, composers, executives, and critics in the United States and Great Britain. The biographies in this set are available online in the Biography Resource Center database (above).
Dictionary of Film Makers
Main Library Reference PN 1993.45 .S313
International in scope, includes biographies of producers, directors, scenarists, cinematographers, and designers from the beginnings of film through the 1960s.
The Great Movie Stars: The Golden Years
Main Library Reference PN 1998 .A2 S54
The Great Movie Stars: The International Years
Main Library Reference PN 1998 .A2 S55
Presents generally lengthy profiles, incorporating biographical data and critical comment on the films and performances.
International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers
Main Library Reference PN 1997.8 .I58
Volume 1 profiles approximately 600 major or representative films; volumes 2-4 provide short biographical sketches, complete with filmographies, bibliographies, and evaluative essays for more than 1,600 directors, performers, producers, cinematographers, screenwriters, art directors, etc.
Motion Picture Performers: A Bibliography of Magazine and Periodical Articles, 1900-1969
Main Library Reference PN 1998 .A2 S38 1971
Motion Picture Directors: A Bibliography of Magazine and Periodical Articles, 1900-1972
Main Library Reference PN 1998 .A2 S375 1973
Reel Women: Pioneers of the Cinema, 1896 to the Present
Main Library Reference PN 1998.2 .A24
Sketches devoted to women's behind-the-scenes contributions to film, divided into 13 main sections.
Variety Obituaries, 1905-1986: An Eleven-Volume Set, Including a Comprehensive Index
Main Library Reference PN 1583 .V35 1988
Reprints in chronological order from Variety news stories, editorials, and obituary columns the death notices of individuals connected with the entertainment industry.
Who's Who in Entertainment
Main Library Reference PN 1583 .W47
Contains approximately 20,000 biographical sketches of prominent individuals in the entertainment industry.
Women Filmmakers and Their Films
Main Library Reference PN 1998.2 .W66
Comprises more than 250 entries, 190 of which are devoted to women filmmakers; the remaining articles deal with specific films directed by women. Includes chronology. Indexed by nationality, occupation, awards, and film titles.
World Film Directors
Main Library Reference PN 1998.2 .W67
Provides introductions to the work and lives of about 400 of the world's best-known film directors, from 1890 to 1988.

Choosing Biographical Sources

There are several aspects to consider when you are looking for biographical information and choosing a source.

> What type of information do you need? Basic information (e.g., birth and death dates) or an in-depth essay about the person with a list of other resources to consult?

> Do you want direct information about the person or do you want a list of resources to consult?

> Is the person you are researching living or dead?

> In what field (politics, business, writing) is/was this person active?

Read the brief descriptions of the available sources with these questions in mind and you'll be more likely to choose a source that will suit your needs.