Influential Screenwriting Teacher Syd Field Dead at 77

Syd Field dead

Scribe set the standard for writing texts with 1979 book "Screenplay"

Syd Field, the influential screenwriting teacher who taught a generation of top scribes how to shape feature films and penned eight bestselling books on screenwriting, died Sunday at his home in Beverly Hills. He was 77.

According to a release from the Raindance Film Festival, which Field was supposed to attend last week, Field died of hemolytic anemia. He was surrounded by his wife, family and friends.

The Hollywood native received his B.A. in English Literature at UC Berkeley in 1960 and got his start in showbiz in the shipping department at Wolper Productions, earning $75 a week. Field went on to research and write for the original “Biography” television series, among other Wolper productions.

In addition to teaching his own classes that drew notable bizzers, Field chaired the Academic Liaison Committee at the Writers Guild of America, West served as lecturer at USC and AFI and was a special script consultant to 20th Century Fox, the Disney Studios, Universal and TriStar Pictures. He was also a special consultant to the Film Preservation Project for the Getty Center.

His final speaking engagement was delivering the keynote address at Story Expo in Los Angeles this past September.

Field was the first inductee into the Screenwriting Hall of Fame of the American Screenwriting Association.

Survivors include his wife, Aviva, and a brother.

Donations may be made to:

• SYDA Foundation, Donations, PO Box 600, S. Fallsburg, NY 12779,

• The PRASAD Project, 465 Brickman Road, Hurleyville, New York 12747,

• Tower Hematology Oncology Medical Group,
9090 Wilshire Blvd.,
Suite 200
Beverly Hills, CA 90211

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  1. I took several of Syd’s classes with him back in the Seventies. Six people in the early ones, 60, then 200 at The Sherwood School, etc. The great thing about him was that he listened as well as he taught. He wasn’t afraid to reference those drama analysts who preceded him (Lajos Egri), and never claimed to have invented three-act structure. It was his mantra…and it served me well for the next 30 years of writing. Pick up any of his books, stop going to other classes, and just write it!

  2. Dan Calvisi says:

    Syd Field was the original, one, true screenwriting guru. I read his book at 17 and it changed my life. I met him a few years back and thanked him for his work and he was very gracious and helpful with tips. We talked about his friendship with Wells Root, who also published a book around the same time. I still recommend both of their books to anyone looking to learn about the craft.

    Thank you Syd for being a pioneer in story analysis and helping countless writers to begin their journey with the screenwriting craft.

  3. venkat says:

    may the soul of the “guru of world screenwriters” RIP

  4. Mr. Field you were truly gifted think-leader. Thank you for sharing your talent. Mr. Field’s footprints are in the hands of screenwriters, who will trounce upon this planet for generations.

  5. A friend says:

    I called both Syd and his wife friends for several years before I was even knew what he did and I only found out when I passed a Borders Books and saw his face plastered on all the covers in the display window.

    For the record, Syd was one of the kindest most unassuming souls I’ve ever known and I trust that where he’s going, the kindness he has shown so many will be returned a million fold, as it should be.

    Blessings to you Syd and to your wife.

  6. Glenn C. says:

    Wow. For a guy who really never sold screenplays or had any really produced he did well with his books. His first few were good on describing the three act structure and about how important plot points are. Didn’t know he was 77. May he rest in peace!

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