Everybody’s a critic. It is part of our human nature to look at things and try to figure out how those things work and what we can do to make them better, right? Not really. In fact, that philosophy is only about half right, especially when it comes to the work of TV and film criticism.
Most people think that being a TV or film critic is easy. You park it on the couch and watch shows and movies all day and tell people what you think of them. Sounds simple enough! The reality, however, is that there is real work and real skill involved in the reviewing and publishing process. So, if you’re in this because you think you’ll make a ton of money for very little actual work? You are in for a rude awakening, my friend. But! If you’re willing to work hard and take our advice, you should be able to make quite a nice living. Ready to get started?
Prepare Your Budget
In the beginning, as you are building your clips and your chops, you will not be working for free. Oh no, in the beginning you’re going to be paying to work. This flies in the face of what most of us are taught as newbie writers, but think about it: until you prove to people that you can write well and have a discerning eye, you’re going to have to pay for those movie tickets and those cable packages yourself. There are some ways to reduce these expenses, though! One way is to sign up for advance screenings that come to your area. These are fun events with comped tickets, but they’re first come-first seated, so be willing to wait in line.
Another way to prevent budget obliteration is to subscribe to a good and expansive TV package. Do not buy individual season passes to shows. That will cost you way more money in the long run. Instead, check out the listings offered by companies like DIRECTV Premium Entertainment to find out if you can get a good deal in exchange for signing a contract. You’ll get access to so much more and you’ll be able to get a DVR so you won’t have to worry about missing anything.
Learn Lit Crit and Film Theory
The biggest misconception, as we’ve already mentioned, when it comes to film/TV critique is this: watch a thing, then tell people what you thought of the thing. The fact is that evaluating and interpreting any type of art involves a lot more time and effort.
If you want to get people to read your reviews, it isn’t enough to tell people what you thought about the movie or what you liked and didn’t like. You need to tell people why you feel and think that way. The hardest lesson you will ever learn as a critic is that your liking something does not automatically mean that the something you like is “good.”
There are real mechanics at work in the creation of a television show or a film. Learn how plot and character development are supposed to work. Yes, you’ll have to read some old dusty Greek stuff but guess what: everything you see today can be traced directly back to those philosophies of theater and literature. Watch old movies and movies you might not ordinarily choose for yourself.
Read Read Read
If you want to be a good writer, first, you need to be a good reader. This is true no matter what your method of expression. Even if your goal is to film your reviews for YouTube you’ll have to do your research. Read everything you can get your hands on, fiction and non. Read the articles and books published by the critics you admire most. There is as much reading involved in film and TV criticism as there is watching. Sometimes, once you’re successful there is even more, since you might be sent scripts before seeing their finalized products.
Critique is more than boasting about how much better the choices you’d have made would be. But as we said: if you’re willing to do the work, you could build an incredibly lucrative and exciting career!