Syd Field, the University of Southern California screenwriting professor who write several books and lead numerous seminars and symposium on the art of screenwriting, died Sunday, November 17, 2013 as a result of hemolytic anemia. He was 77.
A graduate of University of California at Berkley, Field began his career in the shipping department of Wolper Productions, before moving up to research and write for the original Biography television series, among other Wolper television productions including the series Men In Crisis, Hollywood And The Stars and a number of National Geographics and Jacque Cousteau specials.
Although he had no produced feature films to his credit, Field’s first book on screenwriting, 1979’s Screenplay, is credited with codifying the idea that screenplays generally have a three act structure and that certain story beats should happen by certain pages of the script. While this was embraced by numerous tyro writers and studio executives who used the ideas as a way to evaluate screenplays, it also generated some controversy from critics who felt that such a rigid approach would force films into a rather predictable pattern.
Field would go on to write six more books on screenwriting as well as headline numerous seminars on the subject.