I am honored and moved by the love and appreciation of Syd’s friends, students, colleagues, readers and movie enthusiasts who have shown such an outpouring of support since his passing.
Syd possessed an enormous passion for storytelling, movies and teaching. It has been profoundly moving to read the sympathy cards, emails, Facebook posts, Tweets, comments, letters and articles from people around the world whom Syd touched. While the inspiration to write may come from the heart, Syd wanted the world to know screenwriting was a craft that could be learned. As writer/director Judd Apatow said, “Syd Field wrote screenwriting books which did exactly what they were supposed to do – they made screenwriting seem possible.”
Syd’s love of film and his masterful understanding of screenwriting techniques and storytelling, has benefited generations of writers, directors, filmmakers and ultimately the audience. Syd loved mentoring writers in his method, and recently recorded and filmed new webinars and classes; his hope was to move and inspire writers for generations to come. To that end, he had been at work writing a brand new book on advanced screenwriting techniques.
In 2014, we hope to bring all of these projects to fruition in his honor. It is my sincere desire that Syd’s legacy live on and that his method continues to inspire and help new and seasoned writers. I encourage you to continue to check this website, Syd’s Facebook page and Twitter feed for new information regarding the availability of the webinars, recorded classes and the release of his new book.
Meanwhile if you would like to learn how Syd Field evolved to the masterful teacher that he was, I invite you to read his memoir, Going to The Movies.
I wish you a healthy, prosperous and Happy New Year. And, as Syd always said “Good writing.”
Syd Field, long considered by the global film community as “the guru of screenwriting,” died on Sunday, November 17 of hemolytic anemia at his home in Beverly Hills surrounded by his wife, family and friends. He was 77.
Field was the author of eight best-selling books on screenwriting. The first of these, Screenplay was initially published in 1979, and is universally considered to be “the Bible” of screenwriting. It revolutionized how screenwriters and filmmakers approached story and the art of filmmaking and has been published in 23 languages and is used in over 400 colleges and universities around the world.
Born on December 19, 1935 in Hollywood, California, Syd Field received his B.A. in English Literature at University of California, Berkeley in 1960. He began his career at Wolper Productions in the shipping department, earning $75 a week. Field went on to research and write for the original Biography television series, among other Wolper Productions.
Acclaimed by CNN as the “guru of all screenwriters,” and by The Hollywood Reporter as “the most sought after screenwriting teacher in the world,” Field is celebrated as the first writer to outline the paradigm that most screenplays follow, which is the classic three-act structure.
During his more than 50-year career, Syd Field has chaired the Academic Liaison Committee at The Writer’s Guild of America, West, served as lecturer on the faculty at University of Southern California and AFI and has been a special script consultant to 20th Century Fox, the Disney Studios, Universal, Tri-Star Pictures as well as an annual The Visual Art of Storytelling workshop for the scientists of JPL and NASA.
Syd Field was inducted into the Final Draft Hall of Fame in 2006 and was the first inductee into the Screenwriting Hall of Fame of the American Screenwriting Association. He was also a special consultant to the Film Preservation Project for the famed Getty Center.
By special invitation of numerous Ministries of Culture, Field has taught throughout Europe, Asia, South America and Canada. His books and workshops have influenced many of the leading writers and producers in the film industry. Producer Lynda Obst (Sleepless in Seattle, The Fisher King, Contact) has said of Field’s workshop: “This course is a virtual must for screenwriters.”
Judd Apatow, Writer/Director/Producer (Bridesmaids, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Funny People), has said: “What I learned in Syd Field’s class was — ‘Here’s how Annie Hall works, and here’s how Witness works,’ and then I begin to think, okay now, how would I do it differently than that? That concept of ‘Always being in learning mode’ has stuck with me to this day.”
Tina Fey, Emmy-Award winning Creator and Writer (30 Rock, Saturday Night Live), commented: “I did a million drafts. And then I did the thing everybody does — I read Syd Field, and I used my index cards.”
Frank Darabont, Writer/Director of Shawshank Redemption praises Syd Field’s works: “I’ve gone from reading his books to being taught by him in courses! I think one of us must have done something right! I thank him all the time for inspiring me.”
In his final speaking engagement in September 2013, Syd delivered the Keynote Address at STORY EXPO in Los Angeles. His talk on “Why We Are Storytellers” brought the packed room to its feet with a long, standing ovation.
A longtime meditator, Field was a longtime student of Baba Muktananda, an Indian meditation master who founded Siddha Yoga Meditation. He continued as a student under Baba’s successor, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda.
Syd Field is survived by his wife, Aviva Field, and his brother, Dr. Morton Field, both of Beverly Hills; Rika Hofmann, sister-in-law, of Phoenix; Lisa Arcos, daughter, of Atlanta, Georgia; and Gloria Kessler, cousin, of Los Angeles. A memorial service will be announced soon.
In lieu of flowers, charitable donations in Syd’s name can be made to:
For more information, contact: Derek Christopher, (310) 980-2335, email@example.com
Press images available for download: Syd Field Headshot | Syd Field teaching | Syd Field and Jean Renoir (Director, Jean Renoir cast Syd in his play, Carola while an artist-in-residence on campus when Syd was an undergraduate at UC Berkeley. Syd, an English major, graduated in 1960.)