Anyone out there interested in writing a biography might be interested in these lessons I learned from the experience of Rod Taylor: An Aussie in Hollywood.
1) It’s going to take you forever. But you can’t think of that when you’re doing it – just lie to yourself (and your partner) that it won’t take long.
2) The best way to get people’s phone numbers for interviews is through recommendations. Whenever you interview someone, always try to ask at the end if they can think of anyone else who’d be good to talk to – and get the phone numbers there and then if you can.
3) Another good source for phone numbers is – surprise – the phone book. I found it a lot easier to get them directly out of the phone book than through agents or guilds. Although you do find yourself praying that the person you’re tracking down as a long convoluted surname rather than “Smith.”
4) The internet is not the solution to all your problems. You will at some stage have to go to the library and go through microfiche, old newspapers and musty books. Not everything has been digitized yet. Of course, sometimes things are digitized after you’ve already done the work – this happened to me with old Sydney Morning Heralds, and google news archive. What took me a week could have taken a day. Still, it’s a risk you have to face.
5) Americans sometimes have trouble understanding the Australian accent over the phone. It can be easier to just put an American accent on when you’re speaking with them.