Have an informed opinion about movies.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent most of my youth watching Siskel and Ebert, Leonard Maltin, and scanning IMDb to see what movies to watch over the weekend. I scanned the Philadelphia Inquirer’s arts and entertainment section to see who got four stars, and asked my parents to take me with them if what I wanted to see was well written.
I learned a lot from reading and watching.
Not only is movie review fun to read, it’s an amazing skill, especially if you want to work in Hollywood. It can teach you to talk about the things you like in movies. You can learn what to add to your movies and just chat with people.
We’ve already covered some film theories on this page, but today I want to focus on the criticism.
But how do you become a film critic? And how do you learn to be knowledgeable about movies when arguing whether it is good or not?
Let us talk about it.
Would you like to learn how to become a film critic?
Are you the person your friends go to before Rotten Tomatoes? Perhaps a career in film criticism is right for your future.
As mentioned earlier, it is not about “good” and “bad”, but rather a broad knowledge that enables you to compare a movie / TV show with the pantheon of entertainment that existed before it. You have to analyze Character and action development, performance, cinematography, Directing, editing and writing.
You can comment on how the lighting changes the tone. Or how the director’s control over the editing makes the film too long, too short or just right. Or you could even create a YouTube channel where you blow all of that up and focus on nitpicks.
Film review is really about finding out if the film gets what it wanted.
Where do you learn these skills?
You can develop them in college by taking courses in analysis in film and literature. You can even get a degree in journalism. If you don’t want to make this your school focus, you can spend some time reading as many different reviews as you can. In any case, you need to learn to be a good communicator and have a natural curiosity about the world and work.
Then, whether you came to school or not, you have to sit down and actually write a few reviews. Take notes as you watch the movies and really delve into the symbolism, meaning and themes. Write an opening that appeals to you and come to a fair and balanced conclusion.
You should write a lot of reviews, and if you are serious about becoming a critic then maybe start your own website or try submitting to magazines or newspapers that include them. Make sure you read the briefings from these websites so that you know that you are writing in the style they accept.
Publishing or self-publishing gives you a portfolio that you can use for other work.
The three types of film critics
An amateur critic publishes his works himself and usually does not earn any money with it. Sometimes they create their own YouTube channels where they dissect and take apart the cinema and all the little details.
They do it for the love of film, but once they start honing and marketing their skills to make money, they can quickly move on to the next section of the review.
As a journalistic critic, I qualify all paid critics or people who earn money with their criticism. These are the critics that we pay for their opinion. They are Roger Ebert, Amy Nicholson and Justin Chang. They are people who are hired by magazines, TV stations and websites to watch movies, interview actors, go to festivals and give us a lot of information about movies and filmmaking.
Think about the film professors you had in college or graduate school. They write books, get published in magazines, and usually analyze films in depth, not just whether they are good or not. Scientific criticism focuses on the meaning of film, its reflection on real events, and its place in film history within its respective genre.
People can work in all three of these areas or in several at the same time. A journalist could write an academic book or an academic could run a film reviews website. But these are just the categories that I see.
If you want to join the ranks, listen to this advice from Siskel and Ebert.
In summary, how to become a film critic
Hopefully, all of this information will help you on your way to film criticism. Last but not least, it gives you something to debate about at parties and talk to your friends about.
Who are your favorite film critics right now? Who are some of the people you respect most?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments.