Recently, I was advised to write a biography for all the characters in “Inside-Out, Outside-In” after our read-through provoked some questions about their backgrounds and desires. Of course, I already feel like I know my characters pretty well, but committing ideas in a written form does solidify and clarify things. My preferred method for tackling this is mindmapping.
The skeletal mindmap I’ve developed includes a number of qualities of the character, including their personal history in terms of their family, career, education and romantic relationships as well as ideas about their principles, personality types and sexuality (including some hidden desires). For good measure, I also include relevant images, colors and locations associated with the character to help you as you prepare to direct a film. You’ll want the visuals associated with that person to provide a shortcut to the psyche of whoever you’re depicting. You have to give the inner life of each character in a matter of minutes, so there is no room to be lazy about anything in the frame with them.
Here’s my mindmap sample. It’s by no means the only option, but it’s a start. Let me know if it helps you develop your characters!
Hunter Lee Hughes is a filmmaker living and working in Los Angeles and the founder of Fatelink, an open source production company. Our filmmaking blog charts the progress of each of our projects. If you enjoy the blog, please support our team by following us on Facebook, Twitter (@Fatelink) or Instagram (@Fatelink).