How Become a Film Critic

How to Become a Film Critic: Career Path Guide

If you love watching, analyzing and discussing films, you love to write, and you don't mind working hard in your spare time to make your dreams come true, then a career as a film critic might be well suited for you.

 

This field offers the joy that comes with communicating what you’ve experienced, and getting discussions going about it. It also generally offers the opportunity to set your own working hours.

 

Like any vocation however, it has downsides. Film critics generally enter this field because of the artistic appeal, rather than the financial appeal. In other words, it doesn’t always pay well.

 

So, with some of these ups and downs in mind, read on below if becoming a film critic sounds like something you’d like to learn more about.

 

 

Education You May Need

Although it is not necessary to have formal training to become a film critic, many employers in traditional media prefer to hire experienced print reporters, columnists or broadcasters (who often have post-secondary education related to journalism).

 

Having a background related to film studies (whether through formal education, personal experience watching and analyzing films, or a combination thereof) is a great asset for this career.

 

 

 

How to Get Into This Field

There are two main ways to start your career as a film critic:

 

1. You're a journalist who wants to branch out into, or specialize in, film criticism.

2. You're an aspiring film critic currently writing for a blog, or simply for your own pleasure.

 

 

Journalism Route: Most film critics get into the field as general journalists; they begin by writing about anything and everything before being offered the post of film critic. Some have also started by writing critiques and reviews for free, and submitting them to publications, honing their craft as they go.

 

Blog Route: Alternatively, you can start your own film blog, or write guest submissions for the blogs or websites of others. Any reviews you write can be used in your portfolio. Who knows, your blog may even become successful to the point where it’s your full-time job.

 

 

Gain Experience - Practice, Practice, Practice

Whichever route you take to become a critic, practice your review writing continuously and work hard at your craft. Creating a quality article or video takes a lot of advance information gathering about your chosen film topic, a strong knowledge of video editing, a lot of writing practice, and a lot of time.

 

Success Tip: Since you’re just starting out, this will all have to be done in your spare time, which means you’ll have to make personal sacrifices. 

 

 

Helpful Skills

All of your practice should help you develop the following valuable skills:

 

• The ability to communicate to different audiences in different formats (such as print, video narration, etc.)

• Consistency in your style (for example, always sober and academic, or humorous)

• The ability to communicate from a truthful place, even if it isn’t fashionable to do so

• The ability to find flaws in your arguments when proofreading your reviews

• The ability to connect personal experiences with subjects you discuss in your reviews

 

 

Different Forms of Film Criticism

There is no standard approach to film criticism. There are many different film critics out there, each with their own point of view, approach and ultimately, style.

 

Approaches to film criticism can range from highly intellectual and analytical - for example, criticism that discusses elements such as dialogue with hidden meaning, or the social themes within a film - or it can simply be a quick review of whether or not a film is enjoyable, with some explanation as to why, or why not. It can also be anything in between.

 

 

What You’d Be Doing: General Job Description

As a film critic, you would be responsible for viewing films in order to produce informative, engaging and occasionally infuriating reviews of those films.

 

Once you’ve composed a review of a film, you would then communicate it via radio, television, newspapers, magazines, websites or books.

 

 

General Job Duties

Although the functions you would perform could vary from job to job, the tasks you would be responsible for as a film critic would probably be very similar to those listed below:

 

• Establish a personal style and employ critical thinking

• Attend private film screenings

• Summarize the story or the theme of the film

• Critique the quality of the performances, writing, directing, cinematography and other elements of the film based on judgment and industry knowledge

• Possibly conduct interviews with performers, directors, writers and other film production personnel

• Provide insights and background in order to educate the public about the film

• Build network of industry contacts

• After writing or editing review, look for ways to tear it apart conceptually before finalizing and publishing it

• Submit critique for publication

• Liaise with editors and publication managers

 

 

Who Employs Film Critics?

As a film critic, you could work for the following types of organizations:

 

• Newspapers

• Lifestyle and entertainment magazines (online and/or offline)

• Movie blogs and websites

• Radio, television and web-based broadcasters

 

Some critics work as full time in-house employees for publications, although many are employed as freelancers. Some are even self-employed as magazine, website or blog owners.

 

Please Note: Jobs with print media are considered to be vanishing, but they still exist. They are however, very competitive. Fortunately, with the rise of digital media, all sorts of new opportunities are becoming available.

 

 

Film Critic Salary

The salary level you could earn as a film critic can vary, typically depending on the following factors:

 

• Your reputation

• The size and type of your employer

• The region in which you work

• The medium in which your work is published (magazine, newspaper, online, etc.)

• Whether or not you’re self-employed

 

Unfortunately there is no salary information available from reliable sources for film critics. We can however, get a good idea of what you might earn by looking at the salary levels of workers in closely related occupations.

 

Film Critic Salary - Canada: According to Service Canada, the average salary level of Canadian workers in the Journalists occupational group (which includes “newspaper critics”) is $58,000 per year.

 

Film Critic Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of American workers in the Writers and Authors occupational group is $58,850 per year.

 

 

Film Critic Jobs

Our job board below has "Film Critic" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.

Is this Role Right for You?

You might be very well cut out for work as a film critic if you have the following personal characteristics and attributes:

 

• You have a keen interest in writing

• You enjoy finding innovative ways to express your views

• You enjoy stimulating public interest and discussion

• You’re willing to deal with the reality of angry readers

• You like to work independently, with self-direction

• You're willing to spend time and effort honing your craft

• You're willing to work your way into a very competitive field

• You want to inform people as to what quality movies are out there that they may not know about

• You wish to write for a specific audience, such as those who love to analyze and discuss films, those who just want to know which movies are worth seeing, or those who may be unaware of what quality films are out there

 

 

Careers Similar to ‘Film Critic’

Listed below are some of the occupations in our database that have similar responsibilities, and/or require similar skills, or be in the same sector of industry, as Film Critic:

 

Blogger

Columnist

Film Director

Restaurant Critic

Screenwriter

Theatre Critic

 

 

References

Salary information for this career guide, as well as other information, was retrieved from the websites listed below:

 

• Alberta Learning Information Service website - Critic: occinfo.alis.alberta.ca

• New York Film Academy website - How To Become A Film Critic: An Interview With Rob Ager: www.nyfa.edu

• Roger Ebert website - Scanners: www.rogerebert.com

• The Guardian website - How to be a film critic with Peter Bradshaw: www.theguardian.com

• United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website - Writers and Authors: www.bls.gov

 

 

Scholarships for Becoming a Film Critic

The “Applicable Majors” section below shows fields of study relevant to a career as a film critic. You can search for scholarships matched to any listed fields of study on the following pages:

 

Film Studies Scholarships

Fine Arts Scholarships

Journalism Scholarships

 

Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!

 

 

Becoming a Film Critic: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the college/university majors listed below can be helpful for becoming a film critic. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!

 


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