Be a Film Critic
Edited by Jan Margery Castillo, Eng, Lynn, Alma
Are you a movie buff? Do enjoy sharing your opinion and brainstorming with friends after watching a blockbuster film? Is it your tradition to read reviews about a new film before watching it and gauge if it's worth your penny? Then you must be a budding film critic without realizing that you could make a living out of it!
The movie industry is continuously growing and so are the career opportunities for aspiring film critics. Why not give it a try? Doing something you are very passionate about is incomparable to working on a day job and just waiting for the paycheck. It's more like enjoying things you love doing and getting paid for it. This article will help you learn how to become a renowned film critic.
Film Review vs Film Criticism
You may be wondering what's the difference between a film review and film criticism. A film review is generally an article about the impression and evaluation of the writer to the film.
It covers the social, psychological, aesthetics and entertainment values of a movie. Usually they are short articles and are easily understood. Most of the time, film reviews will tell you if you if a movie is worth watching for.
On the other hand a film criticism is a more in-depth analysis of several factors that makes up the movie. A film critic gives a scholarly opinion on the theme of the movie, on the way it was being directed, on the symbolism used all throughout the film and many other aspects. Usually they are medium to long articles and will make the reader subconsciously join the author's train of thoughts and opinion. It activates one's brain cells in such a way that the reader stops and become thoughtful for a moment, debate about some issues on the film, and have something to carry on after finishing the article. It could be a challenge or an inspiration. Something that leaves the reader to be more observant and sensitive to things and the situation around him.
Film criticisms are usually found in the newspapers, magazines and online publications. The purpose of having film critics is to give guide to viewers about the whole aspect of the movie. They also provide interpretation and opinions on certain parts of the film for better understanding. They are influential for both the audience and film producers.
Among the famous film critics are David Edelstein (The New York Times, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Los Angeles Herald Examiner, The Detroit Free Press, Elvis Mitchell, Peter Travers (Rolling Stone), Gene Siskel (Chicago Tribune, Siskel & Ebert), Pauline Kael (The New Yorker), Rex Reed (New York Observer) and Philip French (The Observer. Each of them has his own personality and style in making film criticisms. It is important for moviegoers to understand the character of each film critic in order to better understand their take on every movie.
Who Can Be a Film Critic?
Anyone could be a critic on his own way. There is no educational background or degree needed to become a film critic. Anyone that enjoys movies, loves sharing his opinion, is able to communicate well and express his ideas through writing and can give sound judgment and rationalizations can be a film critic.
- 1Students.Students are very well-versed people. They can express their own ideas and are already critics in their way. College and even high school students mostly go to cinemas every time there's a new film showing. It seems like no one wants to be left behind. Their daily conversation about the recent movie, play, or TV program they've seen is already a training ground.Advertisement
- 2Anyone with regular jobs.Even those who have a regular 9-6 day jobs can be a film critic. Either as a passion or freelance job. Basically, watching movies is one of their leisure activities, and writing about it can give some sort of satisfaction too.Advertisement
- 3Housewives.Many women are incredibly good at time management and juggling house duties to extra-curricular activities. Housewives who enjoy watching films can create their own film criticism compilation on a blog or even send some write ups to local publishing houses. Joining a community of film critics is also a good idea for as long as one is passionate about the said art.
Factors in Creating a Film Criticism
Before starting to create a film criticism, you have to watch the movie more than once. You can't analyze any work of art with just one viewing. A film critic does not only choose the newest film, but he also do some reviews on the classic movies. You might as well consider old films in order to further understand the style of classic movies. Below are the factors to consider in creating a film criticism article:
- 1Plot.There are many types of plot. Determine if the movies is a comedy, tragedy, rebirth, rags to riches, voyage and return, the quest or overcoming the monster. However, there times when certain movies are mixed plots. Understand how the plot is delivered all throughout the movie. List down the sub plots too and analyze the how the story revolve around them. The way these sub plots are stitched together is the main determiner of whether the story has a smooth story flow.Advertisement
- 2Characters.Identify who the protagonist is in the film along with the outside factors that revolve around his character. The antagonist may be himself, others within his circle, or a situation. Understand his role and persona and check if he is consistent all throughout the story. In some cases, characters change as the story develops. It gives a twist to the story but it shouldn't be a drastic change because there will be a question of credibility. See how the story develops around the characters and their complexity. You can determine a good film if the characters are believable and well developed.
- 3Setting.This pertains not only to the geographical set up, but also to the historical and social setting of the film story. If the film's story is set in a 1970's theme, then it should follow that all the visuals should be in a 1970's set up - the buildings, the street signs, the shops, the society and all the others should show an indication that the setting is indeed in the 70's. There should be a consistency unless the plot features a lot of flashbacks and back to the future scenario. One of the reasons the audience is hooked to a film is when the setting is beautifully made up. Location is just as important as the characters.
- 4Cinematography.Cinematography is generally the visuals of the film. It pertains to the camera movement and position, lighting, color, focus and framing. The role of a cinematographer is important because he decides what certain cuts and frame should be used on particular scenes. There is always a meaning to his every input. The camera movement can give a lot of message even without the characters speaking. The thrill and suspense of a certain shot could be emphasized more with shifting focus. A character with evil personality or intentions usually appears under darker lighting. But someone who is good-natured or the hero of the show usually is portrayed with brighter lighting. You will know that the cinematography of a movie is outstanding, when the scenes without music, dialogues, or any sound can heighten your emotion or viewing pleasure.
- 5Pace.The pace of a film depends on its theme and plot. It could be slow-paced or fast-paced. The script also has something to do with the motion of the film. Check if the timing for every scene is good and if they are complementing.
- 6Music and Sound.This includes the music scoring, the soundtrack, and sound effects used throughout the film. Many sounds used are symbolic too. Upbeat music coincides with a good mood, while a heavy sound brings danger or suspense on the scenes. Filmmakers put huge importance on choosing the right music or scoring for the movie because they play a great part in maintaining viewers' interest. A good music scoring doesn't overpower the scenes. It only stirs up the emotion or mood of the situation.
- 7Editing.Look at how the film is edited too. Every editing technique used is also important and symbolic. You can get a lot of hints on what the next part will be, just by looking closely at the way the director cuts certain scenes. Whether the editing is mainly parallel or mainly for continuity, your job is to analyze why such techniques were used, and how the editing helps the flow and viewership of the story. Simple cuts may also mean something. This is unlikely noticed by the audience, but if the editing is bad, it could cause a lot of confusion on the viewers' part. Clear, precise and creative editing are what makes up a great film.
- 8Mood.Each movie has its own mood depending on the theme and story. If the objective of the movie is to set up an atmosphere of mourning and loss and you were able to feel it, then it must be a good one. Some movies can really affect the viewer with their purpose. This is the challenge to filmmakers because it's important to channel the intentions and message of the movie through moods.
- 9Lighting.This is a huge factor in creating a film criticism. The visuals, particularly the placing and emphasis of lighting, play a good part in producing a good movie. Film critics are very keen on the lighting details of certain films because practically, a movie should be visually appealing. The protagonist of the story who is being chased by a predator can be emphasized with a lower and shallow lighting. It will not be convincing if that particular scene has a bright and cheerful environment. You can already tell the role or persona of a character through the amount of light shed upon them. You will also have clues that the next scene would be a romantic one with a sheer and velvety lighting. A lighting director earns the credit for outstanding lighting all throughout the film.
- 10Clothing.Pay attention to the clothes worn by the characters too. The color, shade and their fashion statement would tell so much about their personality and behavior. Check for consistency too. A character with a positive role in the film most likely wears something bright or pastel colors. On the other side, the antagonist usually wear dark and heavy pieces of clothing. Check too if the attire of the actors matches that of the theme of the movie. A film set in the 70's should have a 70's wardrobe for the actors too.
- 11Acting.This is very important because an actor should be credible and believable. This is why producers are carefully choosing the right actor for a character. Observe if the acting is convincing and moving. Check too if the chosen actor or actress is right or suitable for the role. The casting is one of the reasons a movie is successful. A bad acting may never save a good lighting, scoring and great setting.
- 12Themes.The issues, conflict and lessons learned in the film should also be taken into consideration. Producers aim not only to make money, but also to give insights to audience. Were the elements presented well? Is there something a viewer can learn after watching the film? Will you recommend it to your friends? Is it sensitive to social and psychological issues? The theme of the film should be realistic too. Even if the film is all about impossibility, there should be something that could be related to real issue of life.
Where to Start?
Before you even start to remember that you are already a film critic of your own. Always bear in mind too that you are writing because you want to have your thoughts and insights in certain movies you've watched.
There are several avenues from which you can start this hobby or profession. Here are some ideas:
- 1Start creating a blog.You can always start online. It's free and there are so many ways to get noticed. Post your article URLs on your social media sites, share and bookmark them to bookmarking sites. Invest on a good WordPress theme and write your reviews well. You can be very creative in the content to the layout.
- 2Join forums.Google on some movie forums and join. You may get noticed with your brilliant ideas. When joining forums, though, you should keep it short but succinct and always attach a link to your website.
- 3Magazines and Newspapers.It's not always easy to land a job in a publication but there's no harm in trying. Print your best reviews and send them through email or personally to the editor. If you are given a job not as a film critic, accept it anyway, because working in a newspaper is already your passport.
- 4Join film critic communities.There are online film critic communities that you can join. Express your interest and send them your portfolio. Or if your community has a traditional or regular film viewing activity, why not initiate a film critic organization? It's fun and has many advantages too since you get to interact with people who share the same interest with yours.
- 5Radio or TV.Apply on a radio or TV station as a researcher or reporter because there's a thin possibility of getting an instant film critic job opening. Use this experience as a training ground. When you get enough years of experience then express your interest to your superior. Continue on creating your personal online film critic page and share this to your boss. You might get noticed and be promotes to the job that you really want.Advertisement
- If you have problems with any of these steps, ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.
Categories : Entertainment
Recent edits by: Lynn, Eng, Jan Margery Castillo