I was sorry to read about the passing today of Syd Fied. That said, I am not a fan of screenplay "gurus," and that includes Mr. Field. I do however know people who were admirers, and I understand -- there is a certain value for people who do write professionally and want refresher courses or fine tuning. But to think you can become a professional anything by reading a book or going to a weekend seminar is a fools errand and waste of money.
(My disagreements also centers in a huge way on creating strict rules for writing -- not as much for the writers, as the problems this caused by having production executives read such things and think that knowing these Rules made them instant experts on scripts.)
However, whatever one thinks of Syd Field professionally, the Hollywood Reporter went ridiculously WAY overboard in their obituary today (in many way proving my point about non-professional screenwriters reading a book and thinking that suddenly makes them experts), writing, "He is credited as the first writer to outline the three-act script paradigm."
Yeah, right, he was the first. The very, Very Firstest -- right before Aristotle wrote about it 2,300 years earlier.
Because before Syd Field, no one in the history of the world had ever thought of the concept of a beginning, middle and end.
And using big words like "paradigm" does not make you any smarter.
Side note: this is a piece I posted here earlier about those wanting to be screenwriters, including the value of script gurus.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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