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Main page » Non-Fiction » Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting

Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting


Syd Field is an American writer who has become one of the most popular screenwriting gurus in the movie industry. Field has written several books on the subject of screenwriting, and occasionally holds workshops that help aspiring screenwriters to produce the kinds of screenplays that will sell in Hollywood. Field's ideas about what makes a good script have become very influential on Hollywood film producers, who have increasingly used his ideas on structure as a guideline to a proposed screenplay's potential.

Field's most important contribution has been his articulation of the ideal "three act structure". In this structure, a film must begin with about half an hour of 'setup' information before the protagonist experiences a 'turning point' that gives him or her a goal that must be achieved. Approximately half the movie's running time must then be taken up with the protagonist's struggle to achieve his or her goal: this is the 'Confrontation' period. Field also refers, sometimes, to the 'Midpoint', a more subtle turning point that should happen in the middle (approximately at page 60 of a written screenplay) of the Confrontation, which is often an apparently devastating reversal of the protagonist's fortune. The final quarter of the film depicts a climactic struggle by the protagonist to finally achieve (or not achieve) his or her goal and the aftermath of this struggle.

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Tags: script, screenplay, succeed, first, pages