Film fans and movie buffs! Have you ever wanted to write about movies, express your thoughts about movies, and give your opinions about movies but not sure what to do or where to start? Have you been writing reviews and not sure what it takes to be an “official” movie critic? Are you that person all your friends turn to to get the latest scoop on what to watch?
From Siskel and Ebert to Youtube video bloggers, the world of film criticism has grown, evolved, and become something anyone can partake in and, with the right amount of motivation, dedication, and a bit of dramatic flair, you’ll soon discover that it might be easier than you think. Here are my thoughts on what it means to be a movie critic and what it takes to be part of this ever growing and ever evolving world.
To be honest, there’s no wrong way to be a film critic. If you have an opinion about movies and are willing to express it in some form then you are already there. Of course, there are different levels to film criticism starting with someone just starting out with a blog or podcast to those who actually get to do this thing for a living. People actually get paid to talk about movies?! Yes, it’s true. Although opportunities are rare so it’s best to think of being a film critic as more of a hobby or, let’s be honest, a healthy obsession. Am I right?
One thing you see in most major cities is groups of film critics who have joined together and formed film critic societies and those groups almost always have some sort of criteria to be met as a way to make sure people are going to be valuable and consistent contributors. The first qualifier is almost always a minimum amount of reviews posted in some official fashion over the course of a year’s worth of time. In Seattle for example, that magic number is 48 which averages out to four reviews per month of newly released movies (both theatrical and on demand).
This leads to what is most likely the biggest question for aspiring film critics:
How do I watch and review 48 movies without going broke and overdosing on “buttered” popcorn?
My number one piece of advice is to utilize streaming services to complement the theater going experience (assuming we will be returning to theaters at some point) and taking advantage of the wealth of movies released every single week. Netflix, Hulu, Apple, and Amazon are the major players, with smaller services like Shudder and IFC filling smaller niche roles as VOD (Video on Demand) platforms. Sure there are costs involved although the level of access you get from these services is far greater than trying to stick to theater subscription programs like AMC Stubs and Regal’s Crown Club.
My number two piece of advice is to just have fun and make sure to fuel your passion for watching movies, the rest will all take care of itself. Watch movies because you love watching movies and then review them because you love doing that as well. Have a favorite genre or director? Dig in and explore and before you know it, you’ll have a big pile of reviews under your belt. The website/ app Letterboxd is a great place to start writing reviews because they offer a free platform that anyone can use to start writing about the films they watch, both new and old.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to discover what being a film critic means to you, so make sure who you are is represented in your body of work. That’s really all there is to it.
Be consistent, be creative, and have fun.
If you have additional questions feel free to reach out and I’ll be happy to help.
Marc Morin is a member of the Seattle Film Critics Society Board and runs TwoOhSix.com.