Syd Field, the writer who helped teach thousands of aspiring screenwriters, died on Sunday. According to a press release posted on the Raindance Film Festival website, which had hosted a screenwriters event in London last week that Field had been too ill to attend, the author died at his Beverly Hills home from hemolytic anemia. He was 77.
Field hadn’t been some heralded Oscar-winning writer, but beginning with the best-selling 1979 how-to book Screenplay, the Hollywood native became the authority on how to write for the screen. He explained and taught the classic three-act structure that became the backbone of cinematic storytelling, and scores of accomplished and wannabe scribes flocked to his seminars and purchased copies of his seven other best-selling manuals. Field’s books were used as textbooks at scores of universities, and he himself taught writing at USC, Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, and UCLA. He also worked as a special script consultant to 20th Century Fox, the Disney Studios, Universal, and Tristar Pictures.
Syd Field is survived by his wife, Aviva, and his daughter, Lisa Arcos.