Advertisement
Famous Film Critics
David Edelstein, Kim Newman, Todd McCarthy, and Dana Stevens are some of the best movie critics of all times.
A single review from a renowned and well-respected movie critic has the power to make or break the movie and its stars. The question here is not whether the movie makes for an interesting watch or not, since movie critics have different ways of analyzing a film. They analyze all aspects of the movie while reviewing it, and their judgment may catapult the movie to great heights, or bring it down completely.

However, critics do not merely criticize, as many misunderstand them to; they notice subtle nuances in the movie that laymen may not. It is not easy to be a movie critic; there is severe competition, it takes a while before a critic's review is taken seriously, and people may not even agree with your review. You need to consider many points prior to embarking on this career path. The paragraphs below will explain how to become a professional movie critic.

How to Become a Movie Critic

Film Critic Qualities
  • A film critic needs to possess a strong attention to detail as well as strong analytical skills.
  • He must also have excellent written and verbal communication skills, adaptability to language, interpersonal skills, and active listening skills.
  • He needs to be tenacious and must possess an extensive knowledge of the film industry.
  • He must also be interested in the technical details of film-making, i.e., he should be aware and must appreciate the hard work that goes into making a film.

Educational Requirements
  • Generally, a bachelor's degree in English, journalism, media and communications, or public relations would provide a strong background for a career as a film critic.
  • A course/diploma in film-making or related studies will help understand the scope and extent of the industry (which is a behemoth, so to say).
  • Having some computer skills are always an advantage if you plan to write reviews on blogs or websites.

Training and Practice
  • You may have to begin your career by writing articles for film magazines and websites.
  • If you begin with smaller publications, you may be given a chance to write film reviews.
  • Remember that it takes times for a reader to trust your opinion. Your reviews may or may not be very well-received initially. Learn from your mistakes, and sharpen your writing and observational skills.
  • It is a good idea to learn from the seniors in the industry. Your review might be read by an important critic as well! You can try to gain expertise by training under experienced movie critics.

Tips to Become a Movie Critic

Respect the Field
  • It takes every ounce of hard work and will power to enter the competitive field of film reviewing and prove your worth. Therefore, before criticizing, understand how the industry works.
  • As a part of the common public, we may not aware of how difficult it may be to conceive a scene, direct the same, edit it, and then project it on screen.
  • It is very easy to sit on a couch and pass comments, but do you have any idea of how much hard work has been put into the scene, however distasteful it might be? Or rather, how many people have been involved in creating the same? To become a movie critic, this needs to be your top priority. Understand the industry and how it functions.

Develop Your Style
  • Read a lot of reviews of different movie critics, and learn from their works.
  • Start contributing to blogs, write personal reviews, and put forth your opinions on social networking sites.
  • Please remember, to copy someone else's style of criticizing can possibly be the worst mistake you can commit in this industry.
  • While you should take inspiration from established critics, you need to develop a unique voice for yourself.
  • Therefore, create your own style, carve your own niche.

Appreciate and Understand 'Criticism'
  • 'Criticism' is a term that is often misused, over-rated, and misunderstood. It is merely a different way of telling the truth, and that too may be perceived differently by different people.
  • Try to understand what it means to criticize someone. Do not get influenced by the power of the pen, and write what you like. You have remain dignified.
  • You must be able to maintain a fine line between an insult and criticism. As a movie critic, you have all the right to point out what went wrong in the film; under no circumstances though, do you have the right to insult anyone.

Avoid Personal Attacks; Remain Professional
  • It is quite possible that you may get carried away and start attacking the actor/director personally. This is something you need to be very cautious about.
  • Remain strictly professional. As a critic, you may have to watch innumerable films throughout the year. You may like some, and despise the others. But, remember you are watching the film from a critical perspective, therefore, keep your personal preferences aside and avoid attacking the actor/director/ costume designer even if you didn't like something.
  • That does not indicate you have to compromise on your review. If you do not like some aspect, but you are aware that technically, there is nothing wrong with it, avoid mentioning anything at all. If it is something that genuinely needs to be improved, put forth your criticism in a sharp, sarcastic manner (do not go overboard!)
  • You must also remember what publication you are working for and what kind of viewership it enjoys. Accordingly, you may have to compromise slightly on your writing style, while being faithful to your individual element.

Understand: Cinematic Vocabulary and Technical Details
  • You might have to watch a variety of films - this will help you understand how different a feature film is from a documentary, or a commercial film, or a short film.
  • Despite this, there is a lot you need to learn about the industry. This comes with practice.
  • Understand the technicalities of film-making. Learn about camera angles, different shots, editing, cinematography, etc.
  • Learn about the top-shots and their signature styles - the designers, directors, producers, writers, etc.
  • The more knowledge you have, the better you will be your writing style. You will know how to get your point across.

Cover All Aspects
  • As a critic, it is your duty to focus equally on all aspects. You must understand the technique of how to write a movie review.
  • Understand and analyze: the plot, the actors, the cinematography, the costumes, the dialog delivery, the makeup, etc.
  • You need to submit an overall review for the movie; therefore, do not focus only on one point. Watch the movie carefully, list down the elements, analyze them, and then pen down your thoughts.

Salary
  • The salary range of a film critic generally falls between USD 60,000 to USD 100,000.
  • According to the website Indeed, the average salary is approximately USD 82,000.
  • The salary varies widely as per the experience, expertise, and location.
  • States, like New York, California, and Mississippi paid salaries of more than USD 90,000, while Hawaii, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota pay around USD 65,000 to USD 70,000.
  • Experienced critics easily earn between USD 85,000 to USD 100,000, while those who begin their careers may earn around USD 60,000.
As a movie critic, it is important to be fair in your judgment. Always remember that people have different viewpoints, and your voice may represent just a fraction of the population. On second thoughts, certain movies definitely deserve a painfully honest review; make sure though that the sarcasm in your review is phrased well enough to help the movie makers correct their mistakes. Be fair, yet firm. Good luck!