Syd Field Course

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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Act I: Introduction to the Syd Field Course

The famous Syd Field course has become something of a staple among Hollywood screenwriters. Even students of scriptwriting who live outside of Los Angeles sign up for the intensive workshop and fly in to be a part of it. The Syd Field course is limited to 12 students, however, making it virtually impossible for "casual" writers to find their way in. Fortunately, though, the seminars are available on CD and DVD as well.

The information contained in the story master's seminars tends to echo that which is found in his now-famous book Screenplay. Field is widely credited with the canonizing of three-act structure, with apologies to Aristotle, who came some two millennia earlier and said many of the exact same things. The first thing that just about every student of screenwriting (or drama in general) learns is that every story has a beginning, middle, and end.

Act II: The Syd Field Course Distilled

While it's impossible to account for an entire workshop's worth of information in a few short paragraphs, the gist of the Syd Field course is simple. Between each of the three acts in any story, "plot points," otherwise known as turning points, fulcrums, or hooks, grab the story and turn it in another direction. Generally, this is on pages 30 and 90 of a 120-page script.

Act III: The Wrap Up

If you can't afford the Field course or Robert McKee's famous workshop, your best bet is to buy this same seminar information on disc. That way, you can take your time with the material, go back and revisit old lessons, or just watch the merry Field prance around on stage or behind his desk--wherever he does his prancing. You'll still get the same information as his attendees, only you'll do so with enough money left over to buy Ramen® noodles and peanut butter--the breakfast of screenwriting champions.


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