I’ve read and own one of his books on screenwriting. I don’t regret buying the book because it taught me some very important basics of screenwriting, but I disagree with most of his ‘rules’ on plot timing and character development. What do you think of him?
It’s like all the screenwriting books out there: It teaches you how to write conventional Hollywood films, however, are still useful in teaching you the basics, awhich you can subvert in your French New Wave homages.
I really enjoy his writings on working with Jean Renoir.
Hack. That goes for the other guy too.
Up against the wall.
When a book starts laying down time slots when the introduction, confrontation and conclusion in a script have to be implemented, it becomes unreadable.
And the resultant movies unwatchable.
Exactly. I’m going with HACK.
The man is pestilence upon the face of Earth. Pity the imbeciles who worship him. And the other(whose-name-i-never-mention).
Agreed. I’ll name a few: Bobby and Peter Farrelly, Stuart Beattie, Roger Ebert.
If he knew so much about screenwriting, you’d think he’d have written some great films.
I don’t know who that is, but anyone who says there are rules to creating art is a hack.
If you ever want to get a script sold in Hollywood, then the book is mandatory, imo. If you plan on taking lots of advances on your Visa and donate lots of blood to make your movie yourself, then no worries, do it however you want. The best thing is to test it out: Go out and randomly pick three films off the shelf at your local video store or Netflix three films at random and watch them. See how many follow the Field format. At least one of them will, I bet you. And Francisco, have fun writing your screenplays and never getting them sold. They’ll look fine up on your bookshelf collecting dust. You remind me of the David Kane character in Altman’s “The Player.” It’s a minimalist mentality. But hey, maybe you’ll be the next David Lynch. But even Lynch did a “Straight Story” and an “Elephant Man.”
Seems that you DO follow him, eh?
“The man is pestilence upon the face of Earth.”
A best seller.
“And Francisco, have fun writing your screenplays and never getting them sold.”
Hehe… You remind me of every school teacher and cop I’ve ever crossed paths with.
“You are up to no good Francisco! Behave!” Hehe!
If I had listened to them I’ll be a fckng lawyer or something equally vapid.
“It’s a minimalist mentality.”
Say what? Do you even know what “minimalist” means? Please.
Look Lester, its like saying that if you take all the paintings of Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Monet, you’d find a particularly chiaroscuro in most of them. That might be true but would be basically pointless. Art is meant to be created not copied; so formatting a screenplay, a la plot and character development, would only trivialize its purpose. That’s my opinion.
yes but all the great artists steal, as the famous quote goes.
Syd Field’s book was great in getting me to understand the process. I couldn’t get through two chapters of Robert McKee’s. So dense and annoying. They aren’t Bibles though, just vague guidelines, which always helps.
If you ever want to get a script sold in Hollywood, then the book is mandatory, imo.
It’s the propagation of this received “wisdom” that continues to loft this guy Field and his fucking book.
Read Raul Ruiz’s Poetry Of Cinema vol. 1& 2 instead. It won’t get you to Hollywood but it may make you a better artist. At the very least it will push you to be less conventional in your thinking.
It’s all food for thought. You gotta find your own way anyway.
I’ve met him personally. He’s a very nice man.
GURU… don’t know what you guys want… If he’s HACK, for how long will he deceive the world??? He has been around for as long, and has recognition all over… ponder on that.
His Dramatic Paradigm works for nearly every 8 out of 10 movies you see out there.
Coppola says a great thing to Hopper that can be found in Hearts of Darkness; Hopper hasn’t memorized his lines and Coppola is annoyed with him. Obviously Coppola did mind people changing lines or coming up with whole new ideas, but he wanted them to do their work first, get the gist of the scene, so Coppola said (I’m paraphrasing) "Once you learn your lines, then you can forget them.)
That’s the same thing with Fields’ books, learn the structure he teaches and build upon that, give yourself the foundation to build the framework of the story and then expand. You can’t run before you crawl.
there’s only one rule: there are no rules
How many of you all have written screenplays?
One of the rules that has come down, though is kinda unwritten, is you better have a hook in the first ten pages if you want to get your script past the readers, you know the interns that read the scripts first before they choose to move them on or trash them.
Films have a similar set up, and once you know that set up, you can try and break from it.
Fields’ books aren’t for everyone, but they are a good tool, and the more tools one has to use, the better prepared they will be.
i have written a few
And have your scripts kind of fit into a structure, or are they just free form?
Scripts are not literature, they are just the bones, and there will be rewriting, Fields just offers a form, and it can work.
One of the first books I read about screenwriting was by Syd Field: Screenplay and the Screenwriter’s Workbook. A lot of writers who write books about screenwriting have a lot of similar rules such as the three act stucture, an inciting incident, plot points, climax, resolution, protagonist, antogonist, etc… I think it was good for him to, in a sense, pave the way for future writers to write books on how to write screenplays. I read in a book called Now Write!, subtitled something like exercises for screenwriters, that one of the screenwriters asked for advice in the book said that not one method will work for every single writer. But, perhaps Syd Field works for some people. I read somewhere that for a while after his books had come out that people in Hollywood were getting films with cookie cutter structure, which I guess means sort of coming out the same way with no individual voices or points of view coming through the screenplays that were submitted. They basically all sounded the same. Perhaps it’s a good idea to read more than one author regarding the topic of screenwriting. If you take Robert McKee, who I might like a little better, he says to focus more on form than formula and there are some other good writers as well such as Linda Seger, Richard Krevolin and Tom Lazarus, but I am glad that I have read Syd Field anyways. I think one of the best things he ever wrote in one of his books was if you don’t know who your character is, who does?