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Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting Paperback – November 29, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Delta; Revised edition (November 29, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385339038
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385339032
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (139 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Screenplay is one of the bibles of the film trade and has launched many a would-be screenwriter on the road to Hollywood.” —Library Journal

“Syd Field is the preeminent analyzer in the study of American screenplays.” —James L. Brooks, AcademyAward–winning writer, director, producer

About the Author

Syd Field is a screenwriter, producer, teacher, international lecturer, and author of the bestselling books Screenplay, The Screenwriter's Workbook, Selling a Screenplay, and Four Screenplays. Published in 1982, Screenplay has been translated into sixteen languages, and is used in more than 250 colleges and universities across the country. At present he is creative consultant to the governments of Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Austria, and South Africa, and has been a script consultant for Roland Jaffe's film production company, for Alfonso Arau and Laura Esquivel on Like Water for Chocolate, and for Tri-Star Pictures. He lives in Beverly Hills, California.

More About the Author

Syd Field is a screenwriter, producer, teacher, international lecturer, and author of the bestselling books Screenplay, The Screenwriter's Workbook, Selling a Screenplay, and Four Screenplays. Published in 1982, Screenplay has been translated into sixteen languages, and is used in more than 250 colleges and universities across the country. At present he is creative consultant to the governments of Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Austria, and South Africa, and has been a script consultant for Roland Jaffe's film production company, for Alfonso Arau and Laura Esquivel on Like Water for Chocolate, and for Tri-Star Pictures. He lives in Beverly Hills, California.

Customer Reviews

The writing is very clear and entertaining.
S. Forte
Syd Field's Screenplay is an essential book that should be on the desk of every aspiring screenwriter or novelist.
SHAWN JAMES
This book will get you started writing if you are really interested.
David E. Clark

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Nick on July 12, 2007
Format: Paperback
To sum up my opinion of the book in a short sentence: it's not the most amazing book ever, but I don't regret having read it. The good side of it is that the three act structure and all sound like a good plan to start working on a script. It does help a tonload to be able to cover so much ground in such a short time and with such big lines. I won't deny that. The card system is quite nice too, but you don't need 300 pages to learn that.

The thing that struck me the most was how redundant Field could get. Seriously, there are entire blocks of sentences that you will read over and over again. At first I thought that sounded really bad... I mean, if you're a famous script-writer and all, your writing should reflect that. So I was confused. Then, and I don't know if that saves it or not, I figured that the repetition was perhaps not so bad, since it kept hammering the same basic things in your mind, and since that helps to remember. It's a bit like a class, I guess.

I'm not saying that Field can't write, however, I think he merely opted for a personal style, oral if you want, and I don't think it's any fair to criticise too much on this aspect as other critics did. He's not writing a novel, he's writing about screenplay and he's talking to you.

I didn't buy this because I wanted to write a movie, I was curious about the script as a form of writing. Now I feel secure enough to consider writing a whole movie even though I never intended to, and that's pretty cool, I have to admit.

On the flip side, I have my doubts about Syd Field. Now, maybe I'm a dumb person, but I wasn't able to find a single movie written by him. And he doesn't mention any of his own scripts!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Robert Baumgardner on August 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
I liked this book. Coupled with Syd Field's Screenwriter's Workbook, I managed to write a first draft of a screenplay. I've never been able to complete a play or screenplay before reading these books! This book gives you the background of screenplays and writing, plus his theory of what makes a good Hollywood screenplay. The workbook gives you a step by step process of writing one.

One drawback is that this book was written in the 80's. Sometimes it sounds so dated. The other drawback is it only explains one type of screenplay, the standard Hollywood 3-act narrative.

Overall, this book was a great help in writing a readable well structured screenplay.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Aerosynth929 on March 19, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting" by industry giant Syd Field is considered to be the bible of modern screenwriting texts, and has been for many years. It's a well-deserved badge of honor.

Field approaches the art of screenwriting logically, positively, explaining step by step the hows, whats, and whys of the biz. He addresses the technical points of length, description, planning, all in a way that makes absolute sense to any reader... regardless of their knowledge of the film industry, educational level, or age. He uses popular film examples to underscore his methods, which help enormously. This book gives any reader the right foundation to begin a screenplay with absolute confidence.

As an aside..... let's also not forget that the way Syd Field writes--his prose--is so reader friendly, and so understandable... he could be writing completely random crap and it would still be an absolute pleasure to read it. I've found that most writing "how-to" texts are extremely boring, procedural... very INSTITUTIONAL... this book is not at all institutional, and it's very easy on the eyes and brain when you're reading it.

My only criticism with this book is a big one... though it doesn't necessarily diminish the importance of the work itself. This book is 18 chapters long, but for all intents and purposes, it basically ends after Chapter 13 ("Screenplay Form").

Chapters 14-18 discuss extreme subjects unrelated to the "foundations of screenwriting." They discuss adaptation and collaboration... matters FAR ABOVE (and not particularly applicable) the neophyte, aspiring screenwriters that would be reading a book such as this one. Yet, Chapters 14-18 also discuss very simplistic matters that are likely FAR BENEATH those that would be reading this...
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Ell Bee on December 5, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Larry Brooks, whose "Story Engineering" I swear by, swears himself by this book. I couldn't wait to read it.

I was disappointed. Brooks presents Syd Field's information far more concisely, and in a much less anecdotal manner. If you buy "Story Engineering," you can skip this one.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Michael on September 20, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have never written a screenplay. I really hadn't even thought about it. I was looking for books on different writing methods to improve my skills and abilities when I picked up this little jewel.

This book shed new light on the world of film for me. I look at films in a whole new way and I'm thankful to Mr. Field for bringing that in to my life. It also showed me that writing a screenplay is something that is absolutely possible.

As I said I was looking for books on different approaches to writing. This book provided me with more than just a little direction on how to write a screenplay, but gave me a whole new perspective on writing in general. "Screenplay" is worth reading for anyone who is looking to write in a structured way improving their skills in the realm of creative writing.

Thank you Mr. Field for sharing your vast knowledge and techniques. The world of writing is better place due to your investment in creating this wonderful little book. I highly recommend it.
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