Syd Field on “Avatar”

In a three-part interview, Syd Field, author of Screenplay, talks about what made James Cameron’s Avatar work.

Karel Segers: When Avatar broke out so massively and the whole planet went to see it, still people were in denial about the craft of that screenplay. What didn’t they see?

Syd Field: They wanted some type of screenplay that was totally new and just so foreign to their normal state of consciousness like Inception. What people don’t see about James Cameron is that he does not create screenplays, he creates a cinematic experience, going to the movies is a cinematic experience.

I talk about that in my book Going To The Movies: what is the nature of going to the movies? I mean what do we do when we sit down in a darkened theatre, and the curtains part and the screen becomes alive and we are all united in this community of emotion? At that moment we are all united and the film grabs us in the first 10 minutes. So I teach people that if you don’t have them in the first 10 pages, I’m outta there, there’s no reason I need to read more.


My students have been extraordinarily successful. Jim Cameron told me that he never knew that he could write until he read Screenplay. He said that showed him he could do it. Out of that comes Titanic, The Terminator and so on.