Featuring insights ... analysis ... great films and filmmakers from “the most-sought-after screenwriting teacher in the world” (The Hollywood Reporter).
A life in film. An extraordinary career. An unforgettable story — from noted lecturer, teacher, and bestselling author Syd Field.
What makes a great movie great? ... An actor legendary? ... A screenplay extraordinary or just ordinary?
Syd Field has spent a lifetime seeking answers to these questions. His bestselling books on the art and craft of screenwriting have become the film industry’s gold standard.
Now Syd Field tells his own remarkable story, sharing the insight and experience gleaned from an extraordinary career. Using classic movies from the past and present — from Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane to Andy and Larry Wachowski’s The Matrix — Field provides a guided tour of the basic elements common to all great films.
Learn what makes La Grande Illusion a groundbreaking, timeless classic ... how Casablanca teaches one of the most important elements of creating memorable characters for the screen ... why Pulp Fiction might be one of the most influential films of our time.
Discover the legendary filmmakers, films, and stars who shaped Field’s understanding of the medium.... Meet Jean Renoir, the great French director who steered his young Berkeley protégé away from medicine into film.... Watch a dazzling young Francis Ford Coppola as he directs his thesis film at UCLA.... Spend an amazing summer with Sam Peckinpah as he shares the screenwriting techniques behind his classic western The Wild Bunch.
Rich in anecdote and insight, Going to the Movies will both entertain and inform, deepening every moviegoer’s appreciation of the magic behind the silver screen.
Watching a movie is easy. But it's hard to figure out how its structure, images, acting, camera work and scripts can make us respond so powerfully. Writing in a chatty, informal manner, the author of several popular screenplay-writing manuals (including Screenplay, which is used in numerous college courses) turns to autobiography to meditate on what makes a movie great. Whether he is addressing his friendship with the great French director Jean Renoir, whose masterpiece La Grande Illusion Field considers one of the foundations of modern cinema, or about his classes with the great feminist film director Dorothy Arzner, Field conveys an enormous amount of technical and practical knowledge. Often delivering fascinating, miscellaneous bits of information (e.g., Jim Morrison named his band the Doors after Aldous Huxley's book about drugs, The Doors of Perception), Field centers his theoretical ideas on specific films and actors. He notes, for example, that the films of John Garfield almost always follow the mythic structure described by Joseph Campbell. His odd comparison of Resnais's obscure Last Year at Marienbad with the predictable Hollywood romance An Affair to Remember illustrates the difference between a subjective and an objective position in a film script. As head of the story department at Cinemobile, Field has read "more than two thousand screenplays and more than a hundred and fifty novels" and has worked with or known almost everyone in the industry since the late 1950s. Although cloaked in modesty, his illuminating, consistently entertaining memoir displays enough wit, intelligence and empathy to inspire a host of great films.