When thinking of a degree in journalism, many people often assume it means a career as a journalist or reporter but few consider thinking beyond. When in fact, a degree in journalism could signify many opportunities in an abundance of fields. Take for instance the role of movie critics. Their role seems to be far from Communications when in fact many possess a journalism background, which is why some refer to them as film journalist. In order to properly and successfully critique a film, a movie critic has to have the capability of communicating effectively both verbally and written.
Often it is how well the critique is written that will determine whether a film is worth watching. According to Chassity Beals on her article, “The Importance of Entertainment Journalism”, a good film review should provide the following: a brief synopsis of the movie and insight into what inspired the film, how it was made, what makes it interesting visually, how the story was affected by the cinematography, and lastly, a recommendation to watch the film or to avoid it.” This format is general to the one film critics follow when delivering a critique. Beals adds why a critique is significant for audiences, “This is evidence of an educated opinion as it reaches beyond merely saying ‘this movie was great!’ or ‘this movie was horrible.”Again, a good written critique can influence an audience and box office scores.
When remembering prominent film critics within the Entertainment industry many have journalistic backgrounds having worked in major Newspapers or media networks. Take for example Michael Phillips from the Chicago Tribune and A.O. Scott from the New York Times who each took turns co-hosted the Ebert and Roeper show, along with Ebert, Roeper, and Siskel whom were all journalist.
“Aside from the controversy of whether a critic is necessary, becoming a film critic is an incredibly difficult thing to do. Anyone can write film reviews and critique films in a blog, but in journalism there are only about 2,000 openings per year in the United States.” Beals said. “The number is far less for a film critic. While you do not have to have a degree to be a film critic, you do need to possess a wide knowledge base, understand the film industry and filmmaking process and have a passion for watching films.” I would like to add that you have to demonstrate the ability to communicate yourself effectively to facilitate making your point. It would serve no purpose if a person is knowledgeable in the film process but not effective in expressing that knowledge.
Film critics have been considered a part of the film industry and as journalist Armond White said they are an, “expected to be a partner in Hollywood’s commercial system. Critics are no longer respected as individual thinkers, only as adjuncts to advertising. We are not. And we should not be.” An interesting thought that White believes that film critics should be reviewed as people who know movies and therefore judge them. “Our knowledge is based on learning and experience.” Knowledge and experience that can perhaps be acquired through a person’s passion for films and the help from a feature writing class to help express those thoughts. Below, watch as Director Quentin Tarantino speaks about film critics and their influence in his career and work.