Syd Field

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For the British comedian, see Sid Field, for the actor see Sidney Fields
Sydney Alvin Field
Syd Field.jpg
Field at the 2008 Screenwriting Expo
Born(1935-12-19)December 19, 1935
DiedNovember 17, 2013(2013-11-17) (aged 77)
OccupationScreenwriting guru
Years active1960–2013
Spouse(s)Aviva Field (1991–2013; his death)

Sydney Alvin Field (December 19, 1935 – November 17, 2013) was a leading American author and speaker who wrote several books on screenwriting, the first being Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting (Dell Publishing, 1979). He led workshops and seminars about producing salable screenplays. Hollywood film producers use Field's ideas on structure to measure the potential of screenplays.[1]


Syd Field was born on December 19, 1935 in Hollywood, California. He attended the University of California, Berkeley.[2]

Field taught screenwriting for the Master of Professional Writing Program, at University of Southern California. Field also wrote and produced the television series Men in Crisis, Hollywood and the Stars, National Geographics, and Jacques Cousteau Specials from 1963−1965 for David L. Wolper Productions.

Field died on November 17, 2013, aged 77, at his home in Beverly Hills, California, surrounded by his wife, family, and friends.[1][3]

The paradigm[edit]

Field in an instructional video

Field's most notable contribution is his paradigm "three-act structure". In this structure, a writer sets a film's plot within the first twenty to thirty minutes. Then the protagonist experiences a plot point, providing the protagonist with a goal. About half of a movie's running time focuses on the protagonist's struggle to achieve this goal. The second act is called the confrontation. Field also refers to the midpoint, a turning point around the middle of the screenplay (such as on or around page 60 of a 120-page screenplay). This turning point is often a devastating reversal of the protagonist's fortune. The third act depicts the protagonist's struggle to achieve (or not achieve) his or her goal, as well as the aftermath.


  • Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting (1979)
  • The Screenwriter's Workbook (1984)
  • Selling a Screenplay: The Screenwriter's Guide to Hollywood (1989)
  • Four Screenplays: Studies in the American Screenplay (1994)
  • The Screenwriter's Problem Solver: How To Recognize, Identify, and Define Screenwriting Problems (1998)
  • Going to the Movies: A Personal Journey Through Four Decades of Modern Film (2001)
  • The Definitive Guide to Screenwriting (2003)


  1. ^ a b William Yardley (November 18, 2013). "Syd Field, Who Wrote the Book on Writing Screenplays, Dies at 77". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-10-27. ... This book, published in 1979, was widely regarded over the next three decades as the 'bible' of screenwriting. It happens that 1979 was the year Syd Field published 'Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting,' a book that over the next three decades became widely regarded as the 'bible' of screenwriting, the paperback enabler of Hollywood dreams. ... Sydney Alvin Field was born on Dec. 19, 1935, in Hollywood. His wife, Aviva, said he died at his home in Beverly Hills. The cause was hemolytic anemia. ...
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External links[edit]