Help me to become the next Ebert....
March 21, 2011 7:48 AM   Subscribe

Hivemind, please help me to become the next Ebert....

Hivemind, help me become the next Ebert.

I’m a huge film nerd, I have been for many years and I love to watch movies from the silent’s to American Indie, from German Expressionism to Italian Neo-Realism, my tastes range across countries and genres although if I’m honest I do have a predilection for SF, horror and action movies.

I’m also something of a opinionated jerk so the arrival of the internet was a dream come true, and five years ago I started a modest little film review blog which has developed a small but loyal readership. Around two years a (then) new Canadian film site asked for submissions so I sent them my last review which they eagerly published, since then I’ve written intermittently for them, culminating in them getting me press credentials for last years London Film Festival which I covered for them. I haven’t (nor would I expect to be) paid for any of this. By all accounts they will also get me a press pass for this years LFF and for other festivals such as Frightfest.

In terms of my credentials I also wrote to the UK’s Film critic association and submitted some of my reviews to them, this was at the suggestion of my Canadian colleagues whom had done the same in their country and got accepted. Having not heard from them for months I assumed they were diplomatically ignoring me as my work wasn’t of a sufficient quality, but last week they wrote back and stated that my writing was great but they couldn’t accept me as I could not demonstrate that I was "engaged professionally, regularly and substantially" in film criticism (Critic's Circle Membership Rule 6)? Do you, for example, derive a substantial proportion of your income from professional employment as a film writer/journalist/critic?”

This is my convoluted version of saying what next? Truth be told I’m anxious to actually get some of my scribbling into the more established channels, or indeed anywhere else other than my blog and the Canadian website, whether that’s Empire or Total Film, or perhaps some of the better known film sites out there. The problem is I don’t have the slightest idea of how to achieve this lofty goal, and as I expected these larger behemoths don’t accept unsolicited submissions. It’s not a deal breaker but it would also be nice to be financially reimbursed for my troubles. Should I be happy with my lot, and that my part time hobby (I have a day job running my own business completely unrelated to the media or cinema or arts) is just ticking over nicely and I shouldn’t be pursuing activities that may take the fun out of it?

Thanks in advance for any advice….
posted by Mintyblonde to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
This might sound trifling, but the first step I took to be taken more seriously as a book reviewer (and I'm not a pro, but I get lots of free books and have interacted heavily with publishers/authors through my reviews), was establishing my own dotcom under my real name (also appropriate is a relevant, clear title). In looking at your blog, I have no idea that it's a film blog, and there's no information there about your reviewing habits.

FWIW, since you're using Wordpress, it's pretty easy to transfer all of your old posts to a new self-hosted blog.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:00 AM on March 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

Start a blog.
posted by empath at 8:08 AM on March 21, 2011

Oh, sorry.. missed that you already had one. Promote your blog more. Post on other people's blogs in the comments. Forget trying to get into established channels, it's not worth the effort, and you don't need them.
posted by empath at 8:09 AM on March 21, 2011

Along the same lines as PhoBWanKenobi's advice, you absolutely need an About page on your blog at the very least and links to reviews you've done elsewhere, either on the sidebar or on a separate portfolio-ish page. Using your real name would definitely be a plus, as I assume any more professional reviews you plan to do would use your real name and you want your own site to be Google-able.

You might also want to email reviewers at sites you aspire to write for and ask their advice about breaking in to the field. At the least, you will get your name out there, and at best, you could hear about a specific opportunity to write for a bigger site.
posted by wsquared at 8:27 AM on March 21, 2011

Ebert did make the point recently that in the future, film critics are just not gonna get paid like he did at the Chicago paper. He said we’ll all have to get day jobs and that it was good enough for Anthony Trollope or Thackeray or one of those novelist guys.
posted by Victorvacendak at 8:55 AM on March 21, 2011

I'm not sure if he does this sort of thing, but perhaps James Berardinelli could give you some advice if you emailed him. He had a completely different career, started doing the Internet movie review thing, and is now a critic full-time (if memory serves). Might be worth a shot sending him an email. Wikipedia mentions that he became an "accredited film critic" in the late 90s, so he might have some insight on that.
posted by soonertbone at 8:51 PM on March 23, 2011

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