Internet Movie Database [online resource]. Available at: http://www.imdb.com
Reference type: Index
Authority: This database has become the resource for information about movies of any sort.
Audience Relation: Science fiction writers often use pop culture references as indicators of time and place in their work, especially if they are writing alternate histories. Movies are, for the time being, one of the most visible pop culture references. Thus, finding out the exact year of a picture's release, who was in it, and how many awards it won would be nice details to include in the writing to make it more "real" to the reader. Additionally, the database provides information on whether or not movies have been made into books and what production company purchased the rights. This could be very useful when going into contract negotiations for film rights.
Scope: This database is a grand compilation of almost every movie ever made. In most cases, the entries include complete cast and credits as well as a reviews from people who have seen it. For some older and foreign works, perhaps only a title and date are provided, but even this is a start for research.
Content Evaluation: This index is very powerful and very comprehensive. The entries are all hyperlinked together so that one could start by searching Gone with the Wind and instantly jump to a list of all of Clark Gabel's movie and television roles. This allows for great reverse lookup in situations like the following example: "I remember a movie where this guy was in it and I want to know who he was and what the movie was called, but all I can remember is that he was in this other movie with Kathleen Turner and I think it was in 1994 because that was the year I graduated." By starting with Kathleen Turner and looking at her work in 1994, one could eventually wager a guess as to the "guy" the person for which the person was originally looking.
The electronic format is excellent because it allows for constant updating and powerful searching methods. IMDb is set up so that one can cross reference, say, Patrick Stewart with Molly Ringwald to see if they ever worked together. The database is also equipped with "fuzzy logic" search engines that allow for word stemming.
The reviews and ratings system is all based on visitor input. This is an especially useful tool for writers because it allows them to see the likes and dislikes of the "man on the street," not just the Hollywood critic. As a matter of fact, IMDb has a constantly updated list of the top 250 movies based on user votes.
The database is also a good way to keep an eye on upcoming projects. This is important for sci-fi writers because it helps them keep up with what properties are selling and what are not. For instance, are movies being made more out of space books in general or just about Mars? This type of searching is enhanced by being able to buy the book from Amazon.com straight from the movie's entry in the database.
All in all, the enormous amount of movie related information that can be found here is an indispensable resource for the science fiction writer.