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Syd Field's Screenwriting Workshop [VHS]


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Syd Field's Screenwriting Workshop [VHS] + The Screenwriter's Workbook (Revised Edition)
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Product Details

  • Directors: Syd Field
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 2
  • Studio: Tapeworm Video Dist
  • VHS Release Date: March 15, 1999
  • Run Time: 125 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00000JQ67
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #279,352 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Whether you are working on your first screenplay or are a seasoned professional looking for technical help from the master himself. Syd Field's Screenwriting Workshop is an invaluable writing tool that you will rely upon time and again. Available for the first time on video, this legendary course will help you convert your idea into a properly structured screenplay; one you will feel confident submitting to Film Studios and Production Companies worldwide.

Entertainment industry professionals regard Syd Field as the foremost authority on the craft of screenwriting. For over 25 years he has taught and guided thousands of professional screenwriters, many of who have gone on to become the biggest names in Hollywood. Syd Field's exclusive course is limited to 12 students and is given only a few times a year. This video version takes you on the same educational journey, in the comfort of your own home, at your own time and pace.

Amazon.com

If you agree that the rules of mainstream Hollywood are made to be broken, you'll also understand that Syd Field does not hold the golden key to selling million-dollar screenplays. As the reigning guru of screenwriting instruction, however, Field has devised a timelessly valuable formula that touches on all the essentials of screenplay preparation, structure, and completion. In order to break these rules or ignore them altogether, you must first learn and master them, and this two-tape instruction video provides a concise yet adequately detailed summation of Field's many books on the subject, most notably the perennial bestseller Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting.

Tape 1 is devoted to preparing your screenplay, from the conception of the idea, definition of structure, creation of characters (including the crucial elements of dramatic need, point of view, attitude, and change), and the writing of a four-page treatment. Field's guidelines for character are particularly useful, and examples from familiar films effectively illustrate his points. Tape 2 covers the preparation and writing of acts 1, 2, and 3, with emphasis on such dramatic principles as "the inciting incident," conflict, confrontation, and resolution, with two "pinches" defined as act 2 elements that propel action forward. Field also covers the purpose and necessity of the rewriting process, from the second "mechanical" draft to the third-draft "polish."

Field's techniques are by no means the definitive or final word on writing a successful screenplay, but aspiring and established screenwriters would be foolish to disregard the lessons offered here. And while Field can be a bit stiff in his presentation, his instruction remains eminently practical, especially for anyone determined to work within the Hollywood studio system. The most gifted writers will recognize the value of Field's approach even as they transcend his formulas and elevate the craft of screenwriting to the level of art. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 19, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
I viewed these tapes recently, and can tell you immediately that the product has been mis-labeled. This is "Screenwriting for Dummies," folks. The extremely basic aphorisms and advice he gives at the beginning make it appear as though he's aiming towards someone who's not only never written a screenplay before, but has never successfully published any written work. He repeats the key points ad nausaeum, until you're sure he thinks you're some clueless yahoo fresh out of college and eager to pound away at the keyboard.
Ironically, upon looking him up on the Internet Movie Database, you'll find Mr. Field hasn't produced a single feature film screenplay. He hasn't done anything save for a bit part as "Patient #1" and a role in a very recent indie flick I've never heard of. There's the inevitable question of, "If this guy knows so much, why isn't he making millions?" Well, read on.
This is my theory: the man is an excellent researcher and instructor, but not actually creative himself. His theories have revolutionized Hollywood. Particularly his 30-60-30 theory of number of pages for each act. It's based on extensive research he's done...but what he's found is a _pattern_, not a _formula_. Mr. Field implies that this is a formula, that this will help you get your screenplay produced, and it might, but only because almost every producer in Hollywood has adopted his pattern as a formula for deciding which script is yes and which script is no. Kind of a vicious cycle. Kinda prevents innovation. But you're gonna need to know Sid's jargon if and when you pitch your project, because they'll use his words and ideas to sound out your screenplay. Just skim over one of his books and read all the italicized and bolded text, I guess.
I recommend Final Draft, however, if you are a professional screenwriter or really serious about becoming one.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By S Smyth on July 12, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
This video takes you from Ground-Zero and explains the structural requirements for a screenplay so that it stands a fair chance of being successful. Syd Field's approach is by way of a paradigm onto which a story's elements are placed so that the resulting movie will involve the audience in the story. This paradigm has been developed from Syd Field's analysis of the historical record of movies, and is presented in the video using Titanic; The Shawshank Redemption; and Thelma and Louise, as illustrative examples. He could have used a legion of others - some of which I would have preferred to watch - but they are a legitimate choice for the exercise, and are pretty current.
Having watched this video I think that Syd has done a really good job in conveying a useful set of guidelines for an aspiring scriptwriter to work with. The only problems that I could identify were that the aspirant would need to be a capable writer, in the first place, of manuscripts, coupled with a huge amount of discipline to follow through on what Syd has to say. Someone diving in to write a screenplay would find it really tough going, since they would have no prior experience of writing and structuring a short story or novel length manuscript.
Previous commentators of Syd's video have slammed the notion of the Paradigm and bolstered this by suggesting that Syd is some kind of no-name/ hack / charlatan. The problem isn't the paradigm; the problem is that tat affixed to the paradigm is still tat, as so many films of today, and yesteryear, clearly are.
It's not the paradigm's fault that the powers in Hollywood are familiar with the paradigm, but are incapable of imbuing the paradigm with quality input, insisting on the endless deployment of stereotypical and worn out content.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 6, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
I had toyed with the idea of writing a musical, and when I started using the videos the idea that stage productions are primarily dramatic text using "the language of dramatic action," while movies are "stories told in pictures with dialogue and description placed within the context of dramatic structure," got me to expand my thinking about Oscar Hammerstein's dictum on the unity of song to storyline, that songs must move character/story forward, in ways that my BFA and MA degrees in Creative Writing never quite got rolling. On stage, pictures can also move an audience where I want 'em to go. And that shift in my understanding I owe to Syd Field's excellent presentation.
I have put several of Syd Field's concepts to work in my play-writing and am currently working on a revision of my 1948 Private Eye musical using the pictures of a famous artist as the settings.
Thank you Syd Field for your clarity, your insight and inspiration.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 5, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
I'm a published novelist, and have also been writing screenplays for several years now, but I've always had the feeling that I'm missing something, that I'm really not really grasping the distinctions between a novel and screenplay. Then a friend of mine turned me on to Syd Field's Video. What a revelation! What a miraculous learning experience. He's like my personal mentor. He takes me step by step through the entire process, using examples that make things clear and precise. Then I went out and bought the films he talks about in the course: Shawshank Redemption, Thelma and Louise and Titanic, and now I have a new insight and understanding about the craft of screenwriting. I cannot tell you how much I've learned from this course. It's wonderful.Buy it, buy it, buy it!
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