So You Want To Be A Film Critic?

How Would You Like to Write for The Blood Shed

I’m am no Roger Ebert. Nor am I Pauline Kael, Richard Roeper, or even the often maligned Rex Reed. I have nowhere near the skill level of any of those masters, and probably never will. So what authority do I have, lowly auteur of the web that I am, have I to give advice on writing. Well, I have written ALOT, some of it awful, some at least somewhat readable, a couple articles maybe even enjoyable. While I can’t turn you into Roger Ebert, I can tell you what I’ve learned in my four years of writing about movies online; it’s not a hell of a lot, but maybe it will get you somewhere.

5. Read


      Frankly guys, this is what it comes down to; if you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write. This is about literally any form of literature; novels, screenplays, news articles, movie reviews, pornography, McCdonalds health pamphlets, erotic Harry Potter fan fiction, I don’t really care. If you want to be an architect, you don’t just grab a hammer and build Fallingwater. Study your shit up guys. Take notes; what is it you like in what you read? What you dislike? How does your review compare to one from say, A.O. Scott? Don’t know who that is? Look him up.  Yes, this is homework, but it should be enjoyable homework. If you don’t enjoy reading film reviews, then you really need to question yourself on why you want to write them.  It has to be for more than exposure or money, otherwise this job will burn you out quick.

4. Watch


     This one seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be amazed at how many people who talk to me, asking how to get into the business of writing about horror, and haven’t seen a single damn horror film. Look, not everyone’s seen Street Trash, I get it, and I’m not that asshole that says people who haven’t seen Rosemary’s Baby aren’t true horror fans, or any shit like that. But if you want to be a writer, and your primarily want to write about horror films, then it helps to WATCH SOME FUCKING HORROR FILMS! Yeah, this is homework too, but it should be the best kind; as a guy who loves horror movies I watch tons of them in my free time. Getting to watch them for work is a dream come true for me, and it should be for you to.

     That being said you do have to make sure you spread your views around. Don’t just watch Slasher films, or ghost movies, or any one sub-genre; horror is one of the most diverse areas of entertainment there is, and it’s essential you have an understanding of all of it. Watch non-horror movies to, films in different genres that are classics or failures in their own right. Learn to recognize what makes a movie succeed and what makes one fail; apply it to your writing. It’s not enough to recognize a film as being good or bad, you need to understand why. The best way to do this is by reading other reviews, and watching a whole lot of movies; so get cracking.

3. Master the English Language 


      The most important part of any skill is learning the fundamentals, and writing is no different. There are a number of rules, policies, and other boring things that dictate what makes a written piece good, and while it might no be fun, you’re going to need to learn them. In a crowded field, the bare minimum to break in is being able to write like you know what you’re doing. And once again, the best way to learn how to do this is repetition. Keep on writing review after review, trying to improve each time; this is a learning process, I’m still learning on every article I publish. Beat yourself against a wall hard enough and eventually it will begin to break. Make sure this is something you really want to invest a lot of time into, because IT WILL take a lot of time. The only way you’ll improve is with a dedicated work ethic, and if you don’t at least tolerate it, this job will burn you out quick. But even once you have even a decent understanding of the beginnings, it’s not enough.

2. Develop Your Voice


     At risk of sounding cliché, this is the element that separates the good writers from the great ones; a voice. When you write, you want your reviews to be distinctly yours, with an insight, style, and word choice that puts you up above the crowd. When you read a Roger Ebert review, you can tell it’s an Ebert review. You want your writing to be the same way. There are a thousand adequate writers out there, clacking out the same old pleasing, generic articles that will pick up an average amount of praise and please their audience. But you don’t want to strive to be average; you want to excel, forge your own path in horror criticism history, and be as successful as you can. To quote an old cliché again, shoot for the moon; even if you miss you’ll be among the stars.

1. Find an Outlet


     Now that you have an idea of how to write, you need to find a place to publish it. The Blood Shed has been truly wonderful for me, giving me an outlet for my work and an audience that has ranked in the thousands. I remember when my first article really blew up (an essay on The Babadook that received over 9000 views), and it’s an experience that hard to describe. The one thing every creator truly wants is for their work to be shown and appreciated, and if you are going to go to the hard work of improving your writing, you owe it to yourself to have your work read.

   As a matter of fact, that’s something The Blood Shed might be able to help you with. Were always looking for new, skilled writers and promising newbies to join our ranks, and work for on of the fast growing horror websites in the world. If you don’t want to that’s ok, but if you do I have one question; whats stopping you?  Shoot for the moon guys. Shoot for the moon.

Jeff is a writer for The Blood Shed who eats, drinks, and bleeds horror. You can contact him at

3 Comments on this post.

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  • brandi english
    6 April 2016 at 8:37 pm - Reply

    i would love to be a film critic, but i dont have enough time right now to explain how i would be a great one , im off to watch the new ghost busters, i will be back to critiqe trust me, thank you

  • Jeffrey Scott
    6 April 2016 at 8:44 pm - Reply

    We accomadate scedules pretty well

  • Brenton Foale
    7 April 2016 at 1:52 am - Reply

    As a filmmaker, horror fan, owner of Horror Movie Addicts on Facebook (16000+ members) and having recently covered writing film reviews as part of my bachelor of communications university degree, I am ready for this challenge.

    Jeff, I will email you to discuss this further.

    Brenton Foale
    Fantasm Productions