5 movies you may not know were autobiographies first

Autobiographical content has been utilised in TV and film for many years, and a story that originates in reality engages viewers that much more. Many of the most famous autobiographical movies were once penned in written form long before they saw the screen. This type of content is also popular amongst the upper echelon of directors, swapping immersive fictional narratives for real life experiences.

We take a look at 5 famous autobiographies that have since been recreated on the big screen.

127 Hours

The autobiography, Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston, was released in 2004 following a mountain climbing accident in 2003 where Ralston found himself trapped in Utah’s Bluejohn Canyon for five days. It follows Ralston through both past experiences and his entrapment in alternating chapters.

Inc. Magazine called Between a Rock and a Hard Place one of seven ‘great entrepreneurship books that have nothing to do with business’. The book encapsulates determination and fearlessness perfectly, and such a rare occurrence was captivating for filmmaker Danny Boyle to reimagine on screen.

The 2010 movie version of this book generated a lot of media hype not least due to it being directed by renowned director Boyle and starring James Franco. It was nominated for six Academy Awards including: Best Picture and Best Actor.

The Pianist

This memoir was written by Polish-Jewish pianist and composer, Wladyslaw Szpilman. Szpilman grew up in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II, and the story highlights his struggles through this extremely difficult time.

The English version is titled The Pianist: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man’s Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945, and the story was later reincarnated into the movie, The Pianist in 2002 and like 127 Hours, was also reimagined by a renowned director – Roman Polanski.

Arguably Polanski’s best release, The Pianist was awarded the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and three Academy Awards (Best Actor, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay), two years after Szpilman’s death.

Donnie Brasco

A crime story for the ages, Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia is an extraordinary tale lived by former FBI agent Joseph D. Pistone. Pistone was an undercover agent tasked with infiltrating a theft ring run by the Mafia.

The book was released in 1988 and following the sensitivity of his work, Pistone’s life history was wiped by the FBI in order to retain anonymity and establish a secret identity. The operation it depicts lasted several years and led to more than 200 indictments and 100 convictions of mafia members.

The 1997 movie, Donnie Brasco starred Hollywood royalty, Al Pacino and Johnny Depp and was nominated for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar.

The Wolf of Wall Street

The life story of Jordan Belfort is known worldwide for his exploits in Wall Street. His 2007 tell-all book of the same name outlines his rise to success through stock trading. Belfort’s company would trade penny stocks artificially inflating their prices by spreading misinformation.

Belfort’s success was not without low points, and subsequently ended with his incarceration for securities fraud. The honest delivery of The Wolf of Wall Street puts the reader inside every moment.

The movie was also an immense success, partly due to director Martin Scorsese’s storytelling ability, Leonardo DiCaprio’s portrayal of Belfort, and a star-studded cast. The movie was released in 2013, six years after the book’s release and was nominated for five Academy Awards including: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor.

Eat Pray Love

Eat Pray Love, a 2006 memoir by American author, Elizabeth Gilbert, chronicles the author’s trip around the world following her divorce. It remained on The New York Times Best Seller list for 187 weeks.

It is a tale of self-discovery, spirituality and individual growth in times of hardship. The movie produced under the same title was released in 2010 and starred Julia Roberts.

Though the book was well received as shown by its dominance in the bestseller lists, the movie saw mixed reviews. The Huffington Post review described the film as ‘ultimately charming and inspirational … though it doesn’t have quite the impact of the book’.

The range of industries, topics and themes that autobiographies can explore are endless. The 5 books above all have different subject matter, so whatever your story is, it’s worth telling! Whether you have had success in the face of adversity or have expertise within a specific industry, there is always a story to tell and at My Story Told, we want to help tell your story in your words.

Get in touch here to start your storytelling journey.

An autobiography is a written account about oneself, narrated by oneself. An autobiography can be written for many reasons but are typically released by people who are well established or recognised in their fields and can also document unique introspective life stories.

Autobiography vs Biography

Biographies on the other hand are life stories written by a third party, and more often than not document the story of historical figures including politicians, entertainers and entrepreneurs.

Though biographical writers have a particular set of skills in order to aptly present the lives of renowned people, autobiographers need expertise in one field: themselves.

Planning an autobiography

If you are considering writing an autobiography or telling your story, My Story Told is the ideal choice to accompany you on your journey. Our expert writers will be there every step of the way to help with developing and writing your story exactly how you envisage it.

Understand your audience

Before planning an autobiography, thoroughly understanding who you are writing the book for. This is important because it will influence the tone, structure and overall approach of the story you are telling. If you are sharing industry expertise, it must be presented in a coherent way for the target audience.

Identify a clear core concept

Some key questions that are important in the planning stages of your autobiography include: what are you looking to get out of the book? Is there a central idea that can shape and unify the narrative of the book?

Familiar core concepts in autobiographical writing include keeping faith in the face of adversity or a rags to riches story; however, identifying a reoccurring trope can help streamline the planning process to include the most suitable stories and memories that align with the vision you have for your story.

Significant Memories

In addition to identifying a clear concept, pinpointing key life moments and weighing up their relevance is another important aspect of the planning process. If you are writing your story for your family, involving them in the planning process can be effective in choosing the best stories to include.

Here are two starting points when thinking about significant memories:

  • Childhood – detailing how your journey started or your formative years can provide contrast to where you are today and how you got there. This will also give the reader some background detail that creates a rounded view of your life.
  • Pivotal moments – significant turning points or moments that played a major role in your journey are what readers are looking for. They are also important in formulating the narrative construct of your story.

Our previous blog entry titled 7 questions you should ask yourself before telling your life story can help with this section of the process.

Be yourself

Your book should be seen as a portal into your life and should be written in your own voice. It is your story after all. Use the language you are most comfortable with,  don’t try to upgrade your writing with a larger vocabulary than you would normally use. Instead, pick the words you would normally use and this will maintain the personal touch of the story.

How My Story Told can help

My Story Told can aid with any of the above considerations when planning your book. Our expert team of writers will be on hand to ask the right questions and get all the juicy details of each story.

Regular catch-up meetings will provide the perfect opportunity to reflect on the memories that have been documented and a chance to fill in any blanks.

Get in touch and start your journey with us today.