The death of a person affects us all. The announcement of such an event causes a ripple effect, like the dropping of a pebble into a pond; as the news spreads throughout the community, its effect can be followed outwards infinitely.
I’m watching as a ripple effect cascades across the screenwriting community, via the tsunami-esque internet. Early this morning, there came news across the wires that Syd Field had died.
It is during times like this, that I pause, and take inventory. I’ve led a blessed life. I was beyond fortunate to have worked with Blake Snyder and the Cats for as long as I did. That work has provided me with rich, intensive training, and countless opportunities. I still find it extraordinary that I was able to share so many experiences with Blake. The relationships that I forged then still resonate within me today. The Cats are my family; they are my band of brothers.
I was also fortunate enough to have, for a brief time, worked with Syd Field.
Certainly, my relationship with him was in no way equal to the one I shared with Blake. I met Syd when I was working at Final Draft. I had launched an Outreach program, and so I found myself spending many a day with him, discussing the various facets of the program, and how it could be expanded. At that time, I was searching for disadvantaged and young writers, who could benefit from the mentorship of Hollywood professionals. I connected writers with producers, with development people, and so, eventually, the program led me on the path to Syd.
Gracious and gentle are the words that come to mind, when I think of Syd Field. He was never too busy to take a phone call. He had a smile that could light up a room, and there was a twinkle to his eyes. He was already somewhat frail by the time I met him; heart disease had taken its inevitable toll, and yet, he still had the joie de vivre, the magical thinking one would usually find in children. He was the first person to emphasize to me that “none of us knows anything,” and “the true artist is a perpetual student.” Life for Syd was a process of constant learning.
Syd knew how to make an entrance. When he would come over to visit FD, Mark would announce on the PA “Syd Field has entered the building,” and I am fairly certain that Syd got a big kick out of that.
My time with him was short, but the conversations and work accomplished left a lasting impression on this scribe.
What do I remember most about Syd? He worked with some of the greatest names in the business; people like Darabont and Goldman wrote with great eloquence, heaping praise upon Syd’s shoulders. And yet, at the end of the day, when I would talk to him, it was not about who he had just met with, or what celebrity had singled him out. It was about a project that he was working on – interactive software, based on a gaming model, to help young children improve literacy.
That’s what made him flash that million-watt smile – not celebrity, or adoration -but the dream of helping children. That was the Syd Field that I knew.
RIP, Syd Field. You are legend. You are… shall I say it? Awesomeballs.
Now, go write.
HRH, Princess Scribe