Male. Education: Attended University of California.
Screenwriter, producer, teacher, lecturer, and author. Has taught at Harvard University, Standford University, and American Film Institute. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, lecturer, 2002—. Creative screenwriting consultant to the governments of Austria, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Mexico, and Norway.
Writers Guild of America, American Screenwriting Association.
First inductee into the Screen-writing Hall of Fame.
The Screenwriter's Workbook, Dell (New York, NY), 1984.
Selling a Screenplay: The Screenwriter's Guide to Hollywood, Dell (New York, NY), 1989.
Four Screenplays: Studies in the American Screenplay, Dell (New York, NY), 1994.
The Screenwriter's Problem Solver: How to Recognize, Identify, and Define Screenwriting Problems, Dell (New York, NY), 1998.
Going to the Movies: A Personal Journey through Four Decades of Modern Film, Dell (New York, NY), 2001.
Field has written several screenplays, including Spree and Los Banditos. He has also worked as a writer on television documentaries and television pilots.
Syd Field's Screenwriting Workshop, 1999, is a series of videos that illustrate concepts from the books.
Syd Field's books are often referred to as the "bibles" of screenwriting. Field's first book, Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting, has been translated into seventeen languages and has been used in more than 350 colleges and universities. A reviewer for the Film Quarterly called the first edition of Screenplay "handy, down-to-earth advice on the craft of screenwriting, filled with the adamant do's and don'ts you would get in the author's Hollywood classes."
Field began his career doing freelance work in the 1960s. In an interview for MacReviewZone, Field told Russ Aaronson, "I worked as a writer, producer, and director and researcher on some 125 TV documentaries." After the freelancing he began to write screenplays. Out of the nine that he wrote in seven years, four were optioned. He told Aaronson, "I was told they were good, but nobody was interested. I didn't pay attention to the market, and I like to do what nobody's doing."That's when Field took a job as a screenplay reader and then went on to teach a college course on screenwriting. He took his notes and curriculum from the course that he taught and turned it into a manuscript. An agent in New York bought it. According to Field in MacReviewZone, "One and a half years later Screenplay was published. And that started it all." When reviewing Screenplay in Voice of Youth Advocates, Tony Manna said, "It takes someone with Field's vast and varied film experiences to give such a lucid and uncluttered overview to a very demanding art."
The Screenwriter's Workbook is Field's follow-up to Screenplay and was also very well received. A reviewer for the Whole Earth Review, called it "a nuts-and-bolts approach to creating a screenplay. The book benefits greatly by its detailed references to successful examples." If Screenplay is more of a general overview of the whole business and process, then The Screenwriter's Workbook is more of a hands-on tool. Ilene Cooper, for Booklist, said, "Peppered with anecdotes and using examples from famous films, this text will keep readers' attention as well as teach them a good deal about the art of screenwriting."
Field's latest installment, Going to the Movies: A Personal Journey through Four Decades of Modern Film, again illustrates his theories on screenwriting, but also provides an autobiographical account of his personal involvement in the film industry. In a review for Library Journal, Neal Baker observed, "Field's passion for cinema shines throughout, and it helps to propel readers through encounters with a variety of types of film." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly agreed, "Field conveys an enormous amount of technical and practical knowledge. Often delivering fascinating, miscellaneous bits of information, Field centers his theoretical ideas on specific films and actors."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, August 15, 1984, Ilene Cooper, review of The Screenwriter's Workbook, p. 1591; September 15, 2001, review of Going to the Movies: A Personal Journey through Four Decades of Modern Film, p. 179.
Film Quarterly, summer, 1980, review of Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting; A Step-by-Step Guide from Concept to Finished Script, p. 59; summer, 1990, review of Selling a Screenplay: The Screenwriter's Guide to Hollywood, p. 55.
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2001, review of Going to the Movies, p. 1086.
Library Journal, October 1, 1989, review of Selling a Screenplay, p. 114; October 1, 1994, review of Screenplay, p. 121; September 15, 1994, review of Four Screenplays: Studies in the American Screenplay, p. 73; September 15, 2001, Neal Baker, review of Going to the Movies, p. 82.
Publishers Weekly, August 6, 2001, review of Going to the Movies, p. 71.
Variety, October 8, 2001, review of Going to the Movies, p. 71.
Voice of Youth Advocates, December 1982, Tony Manna, review of Screenplay, p. 41.
Whole Earth Review, summer, 1987, review of The Screenwriter's Workbook, p. 120.
MacReviewZone,http://www.macreviewzone.com/ (October 1, 2003), Russ Aaronson, "Hard Cider: Syd Field Talks about Screenwriting, Fin and the Mac."
SydField: A Web site for Screenwriters,http://www.sydfield.com/ (October 1, 2003).*