For film aficionados, it’s easy to get invested in a movie, no matter the genre. You love the genius of unexpected plot twists and celebrate the classics that inspired the films we see today. Perhaps you even love bad movies, if only because it excites you to figure out where the story line really went wrong. When you know how to become a movie critic, the hours you spend watching and analyzing movies can completely pay off.
Much like music albums, Broadway shows, and restaurants, movies are constantly being reviewed by critics all around the world. Professional film reviews are in demand among thousands of consumers who want to know whether a movie is worth their time before they purchase a ticket for a two-hour experience. As a result, you have the opportunity to turn your everyday film criticism into extra cash — or even a full-time work-from-home job.
This article will guide you through what it really takes to become a movie critic and show you three routes you can take to reach your goal.
Movie Critic Job Description
The role of a professional film critic is to give their audience an overview of a movie and its quality — always without any spoilers. Film critiques traditionally take the form of a written article, though it’s become increasingly common for movie reviews to be presented in videos and even podcasts in our multimedia-driven world.
No matter what type of content you’re creating, you should expect to go beyond your personal opinion to create the most high-quality criticism possible. Most professional movie critics keep their reviews consistent by creating a set ratings system that considers factors like cinematography, screenwriting, acting, and more.
A movie critic’s day-to-day may involve more than watching and reviewing movies. In most cases, you’ll find yourself working with editors or clients to select movies that are relevant for your print or online publication’s audience. As your reviews gain traction, you may start working with publicists to gain access to press previews, so your audience can learn more about a movie before or immediately upon its release.
Movie Critic Job Requirements
Before you become a movie critic, you’ll need to be fairly knowledgeable about the film industry and the filmmaking process. This will help you identify the different elements of a film — from plot development to art direction — and be as objective as possible when determining their strengths.
For many movie reviewers, watching plenty of films with close attention to detail, especially the award-winners and industry-changers, is enough to get familiar with the makings of a good or bad movie. However, some may choose to get a formal degree in film studies, though this is rarely required.
On the technical side, it’s an absolute must to have great writing skills. Even reviewers who mainly work with audio or video recording equipment and editing software will need to be good writers to put together scripts for their content. Because of this, many film critic job listings require four-year journalism or English degrees — though there are ways to become a movie critic without college.
How Much Do Film Critics Make?
The average salary of a movie critic is over $42,000 per year. However, because of the many routes that you can take as a film critic — from being a part-time reviewer with a TV segment to a full-time writer with a dedicated column — this salary can fluctuate a lot. The full range of average earnings varies from over $10,000 to over $213,000 per year.
For a more exact look at how much you can expect to make, you can look at the average income for the specific type of movie critic you want to be. On-screen critics tend to earn the most while writers for print publications often make under $30,000 per year. There’s still a lot of fluctuation when it comes to the earnings of freelance writers, who can make anywhere between $5 and $200 per review.
Ultimately, your salary depends on the type of reviews you create, how much time you expect to spend in your movie criticism gig, and how much experience you have.
How to Become a Movie Critic: 3 Options
As you now know, there are many ways to review films nowadays with many forms of media readily available to consumers. Similarly, the path to becoming a movie critic is never set in stone. No matter your background, there’s a good chance you can earn extra money by reviewing movies.
1. Apply for a Job
The most traditional route that professional movie critics take is applying for a part-time or full-time job, whether it’s a writing job or an opportunity to be a live personality for a TV or radio station. This route comes with the biggest barriers to entry, typically having set experience or education requirements.
If you want to gain a traditional entry-level job, there’s a good chance you will need a four-year degree or, at the very least, some internship or related work experience. More often than not, your employer will ask for samples of your work so they can best assess your aptitude for the job.
Applying for a movie critic job is a great path to take if you want to quickly gain a large following, as the media outlet you work for will already have subscribers or a dedicated audience. However, you may not have as much flexibility with your schedule, ratings system, or your writing style. You can find both in-person and remote movie critic jobs on sites like Indeed and LinkedIn.
2. Become a Freelancer
Because many local and online media outlets don’t need full-time movie reviewers at hand, freelancers are quite common in this field. While you don’t need any prior education to become a freelance movie critic, you will likely be required to have a strong portfolio of your work.
To get your work published, you can start small by submitting your film reviews to local publications or smaller companies that accept movie reviews. As you begin to grow your portfolio and your credibility, you can start pitching to larger media outlets that can pay more for your work or apply to ongoing freelance gigs that you may find on standard job listing sites.
When you’re a freelancer, developing a relationship with editors and publicists is key to finding ongoing work. You’ll also find it helpful to build your personal brand and online following, as having a large audience reading, listening to, or watching your reviews can make your work even more desirable to potential publishers.
3. Start Your Own Blog
If you want to be your own boss and set your own deadlines, you can consider creating your own film review blog to get complete control over your work. This will allow you to decide what movies you want to watch and review. Plus, you’ll earn 100% of any money you make from ads or sponsorship.
However, this is the most difficult route to take if you want to make money online fast. You’ll have to learn how to start a website, create your social media channels, and market yourself to build your following. For aspiring multimedia movie critics, you’ll also have to create a YouTube channel or profile on your desired platform. Once you get to the point where your blog is monetized, it will likely still take a while before you can turn your movie critiques into a full-time job, if that’s your goal.
As long as you’re willing to put in the effort, starting your own blog has virtually no job requirements, lowering the barrier to entry, and provides an enormous amount of flexibility. It’s an excellent way to make extra cash while fulfilling your passions — writing reviews the way you want to instead of following someone else’s rules.
Turn Your Passion into a Career
Being a movie buff can absolutely become a great side hustle or a full-time career as long as you refine your writing skills and film expertise. Whether your goal is to have a stable job, land flexible freelance gigs, or monetize a blog that’s completely your style, your path can lead you to the point where you’ll finally be making money by watching films. There’s no one way to learn how to become a movie critic, so this is a great opportunity for a little creativity in your career journey.
If you’re a sharp writer interested in all things pop culture, you don’t necessarily need to limit yourself to movies. Get our music blog ideas to start diversifying your content and build your following.