Sad news to hear that Syd Field passed away on Sunday, November 17. Every aspiring and established screenwriter knows his name and most likely owns his book, Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting. First published in 1979, the book became a writer’s reference tool, highlighting the Three Act Structure. On the Writer’s Store website, Field revealed his favorite screenplay in the past 20 years, which some say, found success despite this popular structure.
Pulp Fiction. People say Tarantino broke the mold, but in fact it’s three stories about one story. It’s just a shift in the point of view. Pulp Fiction doesn’t break the mold of Three Act Structure, what it does is incorporate the Three Act in a new way. All three stories bounce off the key incident: Jules and Vincent retrieving Marcellus Wallace’s briefcase. I did an experiment; I put all three stories in a linear progression. It makes it boring and dull. The genius of Tarantino was that he could see that, so he moved the story around. Each section is a short story, in linear fashion, presented from a different character’s point of view.
The revolution that Pulp Fiction led, is that films are becoming more novelistic. Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill and The Royal Tenenbaums use titles, chapters and other novelistic tools.
Find more information on Syd Field and his work on his website.
- Jules makes a profound decision regarding his future which soon becomes an afterthought thanks to a simple mishap. In this scene: Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson), Vincent Vega (John Travolta), Marvin (Phil LaMarr)
- With a dead body in his garage, Jimmie warns Vincent and Jules about an even greater danger—Bonnie. In this scene: Vincent Vega (John Travolta), Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson), Jimmie Dimmick (Quentin Tarantino)
- Jules teaches Brett a lesson straight from Ezekiel. In this scene: Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson), Vincent Vega (John Travolta), Brett (Frank Whaley)
- To save Mia, it's going to take a real adrenaline rush. In this scene: Lance (Eric Stoltz), Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman), Vincent Vega (John Travolta)
- Nearly escaping death, Jules believes it to be divine intervention from the Lord himself. In this scene: Vincent Vega (John Travolta), Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson), Man # 4 (Alexis Arquette)
- Butch remembers Captain Koons and the history of his father's watch In this scene: Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willlis), Captain Koons (Christopher Walken)
| via Syd Field
Field was the author of eight best-selling books on screenwriting. The first of these, Screenplay, was initially published in 1979, and is universally considered to be “the Bible” of screenwriting. It revolutionized how screenwriters and filmmakers approached story and the art of filmmaking and has been published in 23 languages and is used in over 400 colleges and universities around the world.
Some of Field’s former students include Anna Hamilton Phelan (Mask, Gorillas in the Mist), John Singleton (Boyz N the Hood, Poetic Justice), Randi Mayem Singer (Mrs. Doubtfire), Laura Esquival (Like Water For Chocalate), Michael Kane (The Color of Money), and Kevin Williamson (Scream, Scream 2 & Scream 3.