Screenwriting Guru Syd Field Dies at 77

Courtesy of
Syd Field

The influential author and teacher had worked as a script consultant for 20th Century Fox, Disney, Universal and TriStar Pictures.

Syd Field, considered the guru of screenwriting, died Sunday of hemolytic anemia at his Beverly Hills home. He was 77.

Field died at his home in Beverly Hills surrounded by his family and friends. His death was announced via a release posted on the website for the Raindance Film Festival, which organized a "screenwriters summit" in London that Field had been set to participate in last weekend. Field's appearance was canceled after he was said to be too ill to attend. The festival's Elliot Grove told BBC News that he and his colleagues were "all in a state of shock." The release was later posted on Field's personal website.

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Field wrote eight best-selling books on screenwriting including 1979's Screenplay, considered to be the Bible of screenwriting.

He is credited as the first writer to outline the three-act script paradigm. CNN called him the "guru of all screenwriters," with The Hollywood Reporter referring to him as "the most sought-after screenwriting teacher in the world."

Field was born on Dec. 19, 1935, in Hollywood and earned a B.A. in English Literature at the University of California at Berkeley in 1960. He began his career at Wolper Productions in the shipping department before writing for the original Biography TV series.

He also chaired the Writers Guild's Academic Liaison Committee, served as a lecturer at USC, and worked as a script consultant for 20th Century Fox, Disney, Universal and TriStar Pictures.

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He 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.

His work has been cited by Judd Apatow, Tina Fey, Frank Darabont and others as having influenced their writing.

His final speaking engagement was delivering the Keynote Address at the 2013 Story Expo in Los Angeles in September.

A memorial service will be announced soon, the Raindance release said. In lieu of flowers, charitable donations can be made to the SYDA Foundation, The PRASAD Project and the Tower Hematology Oncology Medical Group.