It doesn’t get much better than getting paid for what you love to do. Rather than working long hours at a job you dislike, why not earn money by watching movies? Viewing films and then writing an opinion about them is the job of the movie critic, and becoming a movie critic takes just a few easy, inexpensive steps.
1. Find out about the movie business
Spending some time learning about how movies are made and marketed will help you be a better movie critic. Do some homework about the writing process, what a producer’s job is, what makes good direction, and why some actors are better than others. Knowing what people are the biggest and best names in the biz will also give you more authority when working as a movie critic. As for marketing, keep tabs on movies as they are released. How much publicity did they get? What kinds of media were used? What does the connection (or lack thereof) to box office sales tell you?
2. Watch and read
Watch as many movies as you can, all different types of movies from all different periods. Keep a notebook with points about them that a critic might comment upon such as notes about the director, actors, plot, and so on. Try to find similarities in style among the professionals involved, both those who are established in the business and those who are just getting their first jobs.
3. Read books about working in Hollywood
William Goldman has some good experience he recounts in Adventures in the Screen Trade. To get more of a director’s view, you might try something like My First Movie edited by Stephen Lowenstein. The original text and its sequel have firsthand accounts of the movie experience from various directors on their earliest jobs.
4. Check out your competition
What are other critics writing? You can find sample reviews in local publications, in entertainment magazines, in trade journals, and all over the internet. Although you should try to read the professional reviews, the commentary by amateur critics can be illuminating, as well. They can tell you what ideas are most commonly included and the points that viewers tend to care about most. This research also allows you to examine the markets. One market may be more appropriate for your work than another. For instance, if your local community is extremely conservative, reviews of risqué movies might not be appropriate. If that is the type of movie you prefer to see, then another venue is needed in order to be a successful movie critic.
There is no experience like experience. Write a number of reviews, focusing on the content. When you feel like the content is good, polish it with some revision and editing to make a clear, refined review. You need to feel comfortable with the content you have included as well as the language you have used.
6. Check your motivations
A good movie critic won’t let emotion interfere with a review. It is possible to hate a movie that is actually well done or love a movie that is poorly produced. Giving a film you dislike a bad review even though it is well crafted is not the way to win fans. Give the positive points along with a discussion of why you didn’t like it, instead. Likewise, you can tell readers you are a big fan of a certain actor, but don’t give the movie glowing remarks just because of that. Of course, you want a job as a movie critic, so you may be tempted to see what some well-known critics are saying about a movie before you write your review. While understandable, it’s probably not the best idea. Moviegoers don’t want to read a piece by you that says the same thing everyone else does. Instead, your reviews need to showcase your own style and belief system. Having followers is a great way to get noticed by potential employers.
7. Get published
Few places are willing to give a job to a movie critic with no work history in the field, so you need to build up some portfolio material. Lots of places are willing to accept donated material. Check locally. A newspaper, a newsletter for some group such as a school or men’s club, even a bulletin for a church might be a good place to get started. Of course, the biggest audience for the movie critic is available through the internet. Many sites allow visitors or registered users to add commentary. Starting your own page with a movie blog can be a good resource, but keep in mind that you need to find a way to be discovered amid all those pages and posters out there. It may take some time and a large number of postings, but if your reviews are unique and memorable enough, your patience will pay off.
When you apply for openings, include your best work. List the sites and other publications you have submitted work to, and include some details about the kind of homework you did early in this process when potential employers ask if you have further qualifications. Getting a paycheck for watching movies is the kind of job most people dream of. Following this process is the path to that dream.