How to Become a Film Critic

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how to become a film critic

Film critics are more important than ever. Enjoying a good movie used to be as simple as walking up to the box office and buying a ticket. But today, with so many movies coming out on so many platforms, it’s virtually impossible to know what’s worth watching.

This is the age of curation, and when it comes to films, critics are the experts we need.

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Let’s be honest, becoming a film critic requires a lot of work. If you’re just starting out, the first thing you should do is create a portfolio website. Having your own website lets you start building a reader base, as well as showcase your work for future opportunities.

This article breaks down the different types of film critics, and details 6 things you can do to start your career as a film critic.

Types of Film Critics

There are 3 types of film critics – amateur, journalistic and academic.

Amateur Film Criticism

Amateur film criticism is about sharing your subjective experience from watching a movie. It’s a way to tell your peers what you thought, and highlight some things you think people should pay attention to.

This is the most basic form of movie criticism, but it’s by no means redundant. Many movie watchers prefer amateur criticism, viewing it as a more unbiased and down to earth representation of what to expect.

Journalistic Film Criticism

Journalistic film criticism is often the next step from amateur critiquing. It takes things one step further, by giving the critic an air of authority. When a movie criticism comes out in a respected newspaper, or well-known online magazine, it undoubtedly carries more weight.

This is also the most common form of professional film criticism, and some of the most well-known critics fall under this category.

Academic Film Criticism

Academic film critiquing is a little different from its journalistic or amateur counterparts. It’s a form of criticism that doesn’t aim to inform viewers, but to study and analyze the art of film.

These critiques are usually found in academic journals, and dive deeper into film theory, history, and cultural significance, rather than enjoyability.

6 Steps to Becoming a Film Critic

Different types of movie criticism require different approaches. However, there are several things you can start doing right away to begin your journey to becoming a film critic.

Create a Portfolio

The first thing you can do to start growing your film-critic career or side-hustle, is to create a website.

Having your own website gives you a place to write your movie reviews. But more importantly, it provides a place for you to direct people, gather data about what works and what doesn’t, and to begin building a following.

Your website also acts as a portfolio, showcasing your work exactly how you want it to be presented. This isn’t just cool to have. It gives you a huge advantage if you want to land an entry-level job in the industry.

Study the Film Industry

Most film critics start out as amateurs, channeling their passion for movies into written opinions. But in order to take things a step further, to a more journalistic, or even academic side of things, you need more than an opinion as a viewer.

You should gain knowledge on how the film industry works and understand different approaches to directing, writing, plot building, art direction, scoring, etc.

Knowledge is what separates amateurs from journalists and academics. It provides you with more tools to critique a film, and better ways to articulate your thoughts.

Get a Degree in Film

Whether you want to take the academic route or not, studying film academically will give you tools to become a better movie critic.

A proper degree isn’t just about the knowledge you gain. The degree itself can open doors and help you land your first real job in the industry. Many journalism jobs, these days, require a bachelor’s degree. Justified or not, it’s a powerful asset to have under your belt.

You don’t have to study film though. A degree in English, journalism, or other related subjects would give you similar benefits.

Grow as a Writer

If you want to make it as a film critic, you need to be able to clearly express your thoughts. That means honing your writing skills.

One way to grow as a writer is to experiment with different types of writing. Rather than write a straight up review for each movie you critique, you can try different formats. For example, write a piece about a certain director’s career, compare the art direction of similar movies, or go in-depth on the cast of a film.

There are endless ways to improve your writing. You can take a writing class, study different writers, or simply keep writing. As long as you remain on course, you’ll undoubtedly improve.

Gain Professional Experience

Becoming a professional film critic isn’t an easy task, and you probably aren’t going to get your dream job right away. However, putting your foot in the door is entirely possible for any amateur critic.

Finding a job writing for a local newspaper or working at a radio station will give you invaluable experience. You’ll learn how journalism works and get a taste of what a professional film critic does. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, you’ll be able to grow your network. The people you meet at your first job may be just the right people to give your career the boost it needs in the future.

However you look at it, your first job is a necessary stepping stone to your dream job. So you should consider any job that gets you closer to that goal.

Build Your Reputation as a Film Critic

This is the big one. Every film critic wants to be recognized for their opinions and ability to critique a movie in an interesting and informative way. The first step in gaining recognition is to build your reputation.

Fortunately, you can start gaining exposure and building your reputation from day one. Every film review you write is a step in the right direction.

A few ways to gain exposure, other than writing on your website, include making videos, pitching articles to magazines, and appearing on podcasts. The more creatively you approach this, the better.

Becoming a successful film critic requires a lot of work. But as long as you keep learning, growing as a writer, and building your reputation, you’ll inevitably get to where you want to be.