Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting

13 Feb

Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting

Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting

Syd Field

Language: English

Pages: 320

ISBN: 0385339038

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

A generation of screenwriters has used Syd Field’s bestselling books to ignite successful careers in film. Now the celebrated producer, lecturer, teacher, and bestselling author has updated his classic guide for a new generation of filmmakers, offering a fresh insider’s perspective on the film industry today. From concept to character, from opening scene to finished script, here are easily understood guidelines to help aspiring screenwriters—from novices to practiced writers—hone their craft. Filled with updated material—including all-new personal anecdotes and insights, guidelines on marketing and collaboration, plus analyses of recent films, from American Beauty to Lord of the RingsScreenplay presents a step-by-step, comprehensive technique for writing the screenplay that will succeed in Hollywood. Discover:

•Why the first ten pages of your script are crucially important
•How to visually “grab” the reader from page one, word one
•Why structure and character are the essential foundation of your screenplay
•How to adapt a novel, a play, or an article into a screenplay
•Tips on protecting your work—three legal ways to claim ownership of your screenplay
•The essentials of writing great dialogue, creating character, building a story line, overcoming writer’s block, getting an agent, and much more.

With this newly updated edition of his bestselling classic, Syd Field proves yet again why he is revered as the master of the screenplay—and why his celebrated guide has become the industry’s gold standard for successful screenwriting.















species on the planet, maybe smarter than man. Your character supports that point of view by participating in demonstrations and wearing T-shirts with Save the Whales and Dolphins on it. Look for ways your characters can support and dramatize their points of view. Knowing your characters' points of view becomes a good way to generate conflict. If your characters believe in luck, they believe that there's a chance they can win the lottery. But anyone who believes that it's "fixed" is not going to

dramatic action. It must be designed and executed with efficiency and dramatic value because it sets up everything that follows. I thought about this as I was preparing this chapter. When I first wrote Screenplay, I used Chinatown as an illustration of the best way to set up your screenplay, interrelating story with character and situation. I examined other films as well, but I kept coming back to Chinatown. The first ten pages of this film still work perfectly as an example of setting up your

story. Chinatown is now considered one of the classic American screenplays; conceived in the 1970s, it was written and produced during a virtual renaissance of American screenwriting. Not that it's any "better" set up than The Godfather, or Apocalypse Now, or All the President's Men, or Close Encounters of the Third Kind, or Five Easy Pieces (Carol Eastman, aka Adrien Joyce), or Annie Hall, or Julia, or Coming Home, or later films such as Raging Bull (Paul Schrader and Mardik Martin), or An

convey character traits that reflect his personality. Notice how Gittes is not physically described at all; he's not tall, thin, fat, short, or anything else. He seems like a nice guy. "I 122 —SCREENPLAY — wouldn't take your last dime," he says. "What kind of a guy do you think I am?" Yet he offers Curly a drink from a "cheaper bottle of bourbon from the several fifths of more expensive whiskeys." He's vulgar, yet exudes a certain amount of charm and sophistication. He's the kind of man who

anything—even murder. Gittes, now a prisoner, is taken to Chinatown so that Cross can claim his daughter/granddaughter. When Evelyn dies at the end of the film, Cross spirits his daughter/granddaughter away, and does indeed get away with murder. Ironically, the incident that drove Gittes off the police force in Chinatown has repeated itself: "I tried to help someone and all I ended up doing was hurting them," he had said earlier. Full circle, turn. Gittes can't deal with it. He has to be

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