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Film Critic Chris Olson’s 7 Tips on How to Write a Film Review

In 2019 I released my short eBook - 9 Top Tips for Aspiring Film Critics, in which I detailed the essential steps for anyone looking to improve their film criticism. The feedback has been great and I still see the odd copy being bought from the UK Film Review website (thank you all!). What I realised was that perhaps I had missed a stage. My eBook was aimed at writers who already knew how to write a film review but wanted to take their writing to another level. What about those people who have no clue where to start? Here I hope to help those earlier on in their journey.

How to Write a Film Review title card showing an old typewriter on a blue/green background
How to Write a Film Review

Writing a film review should be an exploration of a movie’s plot, themes, performances, music and more. It should encompass as many aspects of the film as you can and be written from a place of authority and personal passion. If you are new to reviewing films, I recommend you start your journey by seeking out publications that you may already enjoy. Many newspapers include a film reviews section and there are plenty of websites and movie magazines out there to choose from (including UK Film Review but others are also available...for now!).

If you can find a film critic you particularly enjoy it can open up a world of education. Trawl through their back catalogue of movie reviews, pick up the nuances of their writing and try to ascertain what it is about their film reviews that you particularly enjoy.

Once you have immersed yourself into a plethora of movie reviews and you feel confident about starting one for yourself, follow these hand steps.

7 Handy Steps On How to Write a Film Review

Step 1: Choose Your Film. I would choose something you absolutely love, this will make the process infinitely more enjoyable and you get to use the thesaurus on lots of positive words (rather than negative ones).

Step 2: Set Your Word Count: If you just start writing and never stop, your criticism will likely end up feeling quite rambling and incoherent. By setting a word count limit you can keep your piece tight. Not sure what’s a good word count? Check out one of your favourite movie reviews and see how many the writer uses - as this will often be specific to the publication.

Step 3: Choose Your Medium: Do you prefer to write using a pen and paper? Go for it. Typewriter? Why not?! Would you actually prefer to improv it on camera? Hats off to you. It is important to communicate your reviews using your preferred method. These can always be transferred later.

Step 4: Research the film: You may feel confident about the film enough to launch into a full review, however, doing a bit of research may help. Check out IMDb for a few facts and figures, or look for the film’s official website.

Step 5: Write your review. This is your process and I can’t comment on how it works best for everyone. For me, I aim to write a full draft in one sitting, then I come back several times to make edits and improve.

Step 6: Proof, Proof, Proof. There is plenty of software out there to avoid silly grammar and spelling errors but you should also look to improve your own writing because it will enhance your ability to avoid less-easy-to-spot errors - those which software doesn’t pick up. I would recommend going through your review from top to toe and starting again every time you spot an error. You could also read it aloud as this will help you check the flow.

Step 7: Publish it. You can either submit your film review to publications/platforms who will accept it or on your own website/blog. It is important to see writing film reviews as a sport. You need to keep training, keep practising and always look for improvement. Once you know how to write a film review that you are happy with, it will become second nature for you to review everything you see.

PLEASE NOTE: Once you start reviewing films it is very difficult to go back and I do not say this in jest. Scrutinising a movie at a higher level means you see more of the good stuff but also find it harder to forgive the bad. Ignorance can be bliss if you simply want to enjoy movies without thinking too much about them.

I hope this has been helpful and feel free to follow me on Twitter for movie bants @UKFilmReview.

If you know how to write a film review and would like to check out my eBook to take it to another level, click the image below.



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