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
Syd Field at the 2008 Screenwriting Expo.
Born (1935-12-19)December 19, 1935
Hollywood, California, United States
Died November 17, 2013(2013-11-17) (aged 77)
Beverly Hills, California, United States
Occupation Screenwriting guru
Years active 1960–2013

Sydney Alvin Field (December 19, 1935 − November 17, 2013) was an American screenwriting guru who wrote several books on the subject of screenwriting, the first being the 1979 book Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting. He also conducted workshops and seminars on the subject of producing salable screenplays. Hollywood film producers have increasingly used his ideas on structure as a guideline to a proposed screenplay's potential.[1]


Field was born on December 19, 1935 in Hollywood, California.[1][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 Jacque Cousteau Specials from 1963−1965 for David L. Wolper Productions.

Syd Field died of hemolytic anemia 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]

Syd Field in an instructional video.

Field's most notable contribution is his articulation of the ideal paradigm "three-act structure". In this structure, a film's plot is set up within the first twenty to thirty minutes. Then the main character protagonist experiences a 'plot point' that provides a goal to achieve. About half the movie's running time focuses on the character's struggle to achieve this goal. This second act is the 'Confrontation' period. Field also refers to the 'Midpoint', a more subtle turning point in the plot that happens at approximately page 60 (of a 120-page screenplay). This turning point is often an apparently devastating reversal of the main character's fortune. The final third (the third act) of the film depicts a climactic struggle by the protagonist to finally achieve (or not achieve) his or her goal and the aftermath of this struggle.


  • 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 c 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. ... 
  2. ^ Syd Field at MyLife
  3. ^

External links[edit]