Film Industry

How To Be A Film Critic: Your Guide On Being A Film Critic

Photograph of the blog post author, Sam Jones

Sam Jones

24.6.2021

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The idea of becoming a film connoisseur is appealing to many avid movie fans. Film critics, having such a crucial part to play in a movie’s reputation, are highly respected professionals in the film industry. If films are your passion, maybe being a film critic is your true calling in life. In this article, we will discuss what the role encompasses and present a guide on how to be a film critic. 

a film critic

Do you watch films and pick every aspect apart? If yes, then you are already a film critic to an extent. The ability to single out different aspects within a film is not a skill shared by most. Instead of viewing a film as a whole, critics can identify separate factors like cinematography and determine their collective success. 

For example, a film might have great actors and the filming technique is outstanding, but the plot and script are quite the opposite. Even though the visual impacts might be enough to entice audiences, a film critic can dig deeper and recognise any flaws. 

We hear the term critic often. Movie critics, food critics, book critics, to name a few all pop up in articles and on TV from time to time. Despite this, do you actually know what they do and what is required to become one? Most likely, no. That’s why we’ve put together this article to help develop your understanding. 

To start we will have a closer look at what the role of a film critic involves. Once we’ve covered this, we will jump straight into how to be a professional film critic and what it takes to get there. 

Be sure to stay until the very end so you don’t miss out on any key information!

What Is A Film Critic? 

cinema stock photo

A film critic is responsible for viewing and analysing different aspects of a film. Plot development, writing, editing, cinematography, and directing are all factors a critic will scrutinise. Fundamentally, this benefits us, the audience. Critics give a heads up to eager watchers if the film is all it claims to be. 

Trailers are usually our only indication of whether a new film is going to be our next favourite watch. However, we all know trailers can be an extremely false representation of what’s to come. This is where film critics come in. 

Publishing their work allows us to have an insight into if the film is worth the watch or not. But surely a film critic’s opinion is subjective, so should be taken with a pinch of salt? Yes and no.

Of course, a critic’s opinion of the plot itself can be subjective. But most other contributing factors are objective.

Cinematography and editing for example can be done good or bad. They require technical skill and directing to be successful. Because of this, these aspects are easier to measure, almost statistically, and reviewed objectively. 

A bad review from a respected film critic can set up a movie for complete failure. Their reviews have huge impacts on the film industry and greatly influence how the industry functions. 

Types Of Film Critic 

There are three different types of film critics:

  • Amateur
  • Journalistic
  • Academic

Which you become depends on your experience and the direction you want to work towards. Let’s dive a little deeper.

Amateur  

typing on keyboard

Remember we mentioned that a lot of what a film critic does is objective? This is not so much the case in this example. Generally, publishing on personal sites and blogs, amateur film critics review films subjectively. 

They share their opinion with other film fans and discuss the success or failure of the movies.

This is how many aspiring film critics start out, building a portfolio showcasing their critical ability. 

Journalistic

person writing

This form of film critic is probably the most familiar to you. Publishing their work in articles, magazines, and newspapers, journalist critics share their reviews of different aspects within a film. 

Often they give a score or rate the different factors separately, making it easier for the audience to interpret.

As well, commonly providing a brief overview of the plot, giving us our first insight into whether the storyline is of personal interest. 

Academic 

person writing stock photo

Academic critics are the most elite out of the 3 types. Usually, with a respectable background in film education, they provide a more in-depth and detailed review of a film.

Publishing their work in academic journals and books, the wider audience is unlikely to come across them. 

They provide a view into the position of the film within movie history and scrutinise every technical aspect.

Providing the most objective review out of the 3 types of critics, an academic critic must have a well-developed understanding of film production and every aspect involved. 

How To Be A Film Critic

If you’ve stayed until this point, maybe you’re warming up to the thought of becoming a film critic yourself. The idea of watching and analysing films as a profession is appealing to many. 

Now we will look more closely at what it takes to become a film critic and the requirements to enter the industry.

This completely depends on what type of critic you want to be and your experience level. 

What Qualifications Do You Need To Become A Film Critic? 

graduation caps

Having a related degree is the most recommended way when considering how to become a critic.

A bachelor’s degree in journalism, English, or film studies is the most viable way of entering straight into a career as a film critic. 

However, being educated on the subject is not the only contributing factor. Previous experience and evidence of your work are still essential, we will discuss these in more detail later. 

How To Become A Film Critic Without Qualifications

people watching a film

Don’t worry, if you’re wondering how can I become a movie critic without qualifications, there’s still plenty of opportunities out there. 

Many aspiring critics start as amateurs. Having a blog with your portfolio is a great way of documenting your ability as a critic. If your blog gets noticed, you could be pulled in by a publication and offered a job. 

Starting in an entry-level position can give you the ability to work your way up the ladder. If you don’t have the qualifications to become a critic within a big publishing company, you still have options for lower-skill roles. 

Getting a position with your local newspaper or radio show can be a great way to enter the industry. Even though this method might be long-winded, it could be the best way for you personally to become a critic. 

The Essentials 

Qualification or not, there are aspects outside of education that are fundamental for being a film critic. 

Experience 

cinema seats

Experience within the film industry is maybe the most important factor. No matter your knowledge of film production, you need to have evidence you can convey your opinion and analyse a film correctly. 

Whether you gain experience through volunteering at a theater or starting an entry-level job for a radio station, any experience will aid your journey in becoming a critic. 

Writing Ability 

person writing stock image

Fundamentally, your writing style and skills have to be excellent. If you’re not so confident in your writing ability, maybe this isn’t the role for you.

You not only have to analyse a film professionally and cover all aspects but make your content engaging and clear for the public. 

The ability to write about such complex subjects but in a way that is easily understood by an average reader is a rare skill. If you’re currently working towards being a critic, improve on your film critic writing skills whenever possible. 

Portfolio 

pile of magazines

We’ve already touched on this a few times but it is very important. Having a portfolio is one of the best ways to get seen by the desired people.

Even if you have a respected degree, worked an entry-level role, and amazing writing skills, without a portfolio you have no evidence of your actual critical ability. 

When thinking about how to become a film reviewer, your first consideration should be: is it your main passion in life? This is a career that requires you to devote a lot of your life to.

You should be thinking about films all day and dreaming about them all night. If this is the case you should already have the drive to review films in your own time. 

Posting and writing in your own time showcase your passion for being a film critic. No publication would want a critic who doesn’t live and breathe movies. The portfolio is your best way of showing that.

Summary 

typewriter with film critic review

That was a lot of information! So we wanted to summarise and point out the key factors. 

Having qualifications is great, but not essential for becoming a film critic. Drive and experience are everything. Having a background in the industry will show your level of understanding of technical aspects.

Having a good portfolio will show your passion for films that goes deeper than just a career. 

Getting your name out there might be the most important aspect. Through entry-level jobs and building your portfolio you increase your chance of having your name recognised. The more blogs you write, the more chance someone will spot and remember your name. 

There is no right way to become a film critic, but considerable effort will be required of you whichever route you take. 

Where To Find Film Critic Jobs? 

5 star film critic review

Now that you know what you need to become a movie critic we will touch on where to find critic jobs. There is no clear answer for this and depends on what you want to do and your background. 

Working for magazines and newspapers is the most common option for most. This is simply a case of trying to get their attention either through applying or just expressing your interest.

Because a single magazine won’t require enough content to employ you full time, you will likely end up working for multiple publications. 

Finding a position writing for a respected blog is another great way of entering the industry. With more and more people using the internet for their queries, this may be a more viable way to get noticed than for physical publications.

If no opportunities arise, continue working on your own blog! You never know, it might become the next key source for film buff knowledge. 

Finally, apprenticeships are another way to enter the industry. Despite being rare, an apprenticeship in writing or film will give you the start you need. 

There is no clear way for finding your first film critic job. Whatever gets you experience is a good path to follow. You can’t expect to become the next big critic overnight. Patients, hard work, and determination are key. 

Now You Know How To Be A Film Critic

thumbs up or thumbs down critic review

After all that, do you still think you have what it takes to become the next movie critic? We hope highlighting the requirements hasn’t put you off, but rather inspired you. 

Becoming a film critic is no easy task. With many famous film critics already out there, you are unlikely to get a role with a big publication straight away. The road might be long and hard, but for a true film fanatic, it is worth every step. 

Whether you want to be an amateur or academic critic, you need a passion for film and an understanding of the influencing factors. Simply gauging the impact of a storyline is not enough.

You should have an understanding of filming, acting, writing, editing, and much, much more. Do all those things meld together into you? Then you’re made to be a film critic!

Are you a film critic? We’d love to hear all about it in the comment section below. Be sure to share this article on social media if you enjoyed it. Tag us @musicgateway!

If you enjoyed this article, why not check out another on our blog? Here are articles on What Is A Key Grip In Movies, What Is Satire & How Can It Be Used In Film?, Production Coordinator Guide to get you started!

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