Film Critic Associations Site Owners and Leaders

Applying to Film Critics Associations: Tips, Qualifications, Lessons, and Insights

Applying to a Film Critics Association can be a humbling and insightful experience. This happens to those without the qualifications, to those whose film reviews do not meet the prescribed criteria, and to those whose movie review quality is not ready to bare the banner of a local or national film critics association.

I recently applied to a film critics association.

I had been chasing membership in this particular organization for months, since late August 2010 to be exact. I was tenacious, I was confident. My reviews were over 600 words each and I avoided surface movie reviews with linchpins like “it was great” or “the effects were awesome.”

Perhaps I was over-confident.

Here’s what happened with my application from December 2010 to completion.

On Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 5:21 pm from the Film Critic Association Representative.

I am so sorry to leave you on hold for so long. I have no news for you now, but by the end of January — after the … Awards on January … , I promise all will be resolved. Hang in there.

Happy New YEar.

On Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 5:39 pm.

Hi X-
And welcome to the new year!

I just went to ….com to begin processing your application, and I couldn’t find any reviews written by you. Is this your site alone? Or are there several reviewers? In any case, I couldn’t find your name anywhere.

Thanks for posting the coverage of the results for the…. It was a terrific show.

I keep my name off our movie website and this one for some degree of anonymity. I sent the representative a list of other sites I had written for, links to my film reviews on those websites, and offered to have my name posted on my film reviews on our movie website.

On Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 11:07 am.

X-
The only site that matters in processing your application is the…..com site, since it is the site on which your reviews appear regularly. And it’s a very comprehensive site. It must be an all-consuming job to cover all the areas you cover. Well done!

I see that your most recent review is for Tron .. and The Girl Who Played with Fire, Let Me In, Temple Grandin, etc. Is this typical of your movie review coverage? Those are all movies that were released quite a while ago in 2010 .. some TV as well as theatrical. This is by no means a statement about the quality of your site. I think it’s amazing that you cover movie news as well as television. But there aren’t very many current films in the ‘Recent Film” category.

I wish we could welcome you into the [Film Critics Association], but we have only a few openings for new members, and we’ve had an enormous number of online applicants for membership in the [Film Critics Association], so our internet requirements have become extremely strict, with respect to traffic, linkage, degree of influence, coverage, etc. Your site is very impressive — I assume you’re a member of the Online FIlm Critics’ Society? If not, you certainly should be.

I’ll keep your application in our files. I’m sorry we can’t make you a member at this time

On Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 1:16 pm, my response.

[Film Critics Association Representative]:

I have reviews for Black Swan, True Grit, Ip Man 2, Tomorrow When the War Began, Monsters, Mother, and Cell 211 written but unpublished.

The only reason they are not online right now is because my reviews average 600-1000 words. They take time to formulate, write, and proofread. I try not to write surface thoughts for a film. I try to dig deep and look at a film below the surface to its themes and underlying issues. Clarifying these thoughts takes time.

It took me many days to cross reference two other film critics and a podcast on TRON: Legacy, write and edit my second analysis of the film (which you may have missed): http://film-book.com/tron-legacy-scientific-concepts-script-quality-plot-themes-analysis/

Combined with my first review of TRON: Legacy, you will probably not find a greater analysis of what is essentially an aggrandized popcorn film. This analysis took away some of my write time from my Black Swan and True Grit reviews as did my analysis of Resident Evil: Afterlife (http://film-book.com/resident-evil-afterlife-what-this-horror-franchise-movie-did-wrong/). The reason I analyzed Resident Evil: Afterlife instead of writing a traditional review for it was because my thoughts on the film did not quite fit into the framework of a traditional review. Both film articles -TRON: Legacy and Resident Evil: Afterlife – clocked in at just under 2000 words each. I assume you are looking for prolific film critics as [Film Critics Association] members. Aren’t nearly 2 x 2000 words of critical film analysis proof that I am prolific and worthy of your organization?

I also have film reviews for Tekken (http://film-book.com/film-review-tekken-2010/) and Solomon Kane
(http://film-book.com/film-review-solomon-kane/) online right now. Both films have not been released in the United States yet. They are some of the only published American reviews for the films right now. Tekken will be released later this year in theaters so I believe that makes it a current review. Solomon Kane’s release date is TBA.

Because of the above, I hope you will reconsider your decision on my [Film Critics Association] membership. It would be more than easy for me to fast-track my reviews for Black Swan, True Grit, Ip Man 2, Tomorrow When the War Began, Monsters, Mother, and Cell 211 and get them online in the next few days. The problem with that is that their quality would be low. The more time I take with a film review, the better the final product. Because…, I am afforded this creative luxury. I never dreamed it would cost me [Film Critics Association] membership though. I hope you will reconsider. Thank you.

On Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 1:37 pm.

X-
I wish the criteria for membership were nothing but the quality of the reviews! You’d be a shoe-in for membership. And although I mentioned it in my last e-mail, the number of reviews on a given site doesn’t count for much. As I said, our internet requirements are extremely strict, and the criteria include traffic size, linkage, degree of influence, content, and whether the critic is a well-known print critic as well, and we have to follow the policy set down by the [Film Critics Association]. At the moment we have only a few openings for membership, and more than fifty online applicants, many of whom (I am sincerely sorry to say) measure higher in these areas than ….com.

As I said, I’ll keep your application in our files.

I’m sorry we can’t welcome you into the [Film Critics Association] at this time.

I had been in contact with this particular Film Critics Association repeatedly for over half a year and they never gave me the heads up on what our movie website lacked. If they had, at least we could have attempted to correct the situation.

What should have been Most Important

You would think the most paramount criteria for judgment when it comes to admittance into a film critics association would be the quality of the film critics’ film review, not their website’s: “traffic size, linkage, degree of influence, content [besides film reviews], and whether the critic is a well-known print critic.” Can they write,  are their reviews good, and can he or she make a point and then back it up with facts? Those should be the deciding criteria for a film critic. I thought they would be and you probably would think they would be too but when it comes to the internet and film reviews, I was wrong. Case and point: “I wish the criteria for membership were nothing but the quality of the reviews! You’d be a shoe-in for membership.” I couldn’t believe I read that. Review quality should have been the defining point of their decision, not the last thought, not the after-thought.

Shannyn Sossamon

Shannyn Sossamon

What you can learn from this

The quality of your films reviews is secondary with more than a few Film Critics Associations. Your prominence in the film critic field, the luster of your name, and its recognition amongst other film critics is first with some Film Critics Associations.

Concentrate on the quality of your film review. It matters, even though some film critic associations do not weigh it as much as others do. It should matter to you.

Things are not black and white, what they appear to be. Do not take what is written as application criteria at face value.

Work on SEO, getting and maintaining a high traffic level for your movie site.

Have a gaggle of current theatrical reviews readily available for quick perusal and have your name on them.

Know who you are applying to and how they determine who is suitable. Email them and ask.

Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Apply to many Film Critics Associations.

For a higher success rate with your film critics association applications, make sure your reviews are on a site that is focused like a laser beam on film and film reviews.

In Conclusion

Content, content, content. In this case, current theater reviews, current theater reviews, current theater reviews.

About the author

Rollo Tomasi

A Political Science and MBA grad who started ProMovieBlogger to educate others on what he had learned through trial and error. Cinema and TV addict. Former writer at Empire Movies, Blogcritics, and Alternative Film Guide. In addition to writing for FilmBook (http://film-book.com), he also edits the copy published on the website, manages its writing staff, manages the back-end operations, site finances, its social network accounts, and works with publicists, actors, and companies on press coverage and promotions. He also created and runs Trending Awards.com.

  • jarry fung

    stupid

  • I have maybe a couple of years before I get up enough nerve to apply. I am not there just yet. Thank you for such an informative article! I don't get around much to read or comment as much as I need to, but both your sites are my favorites to visit. As always, thanks for the lessons learned.

    • Thanks for taking the time to read them.

      When you do apply:

      Have at least fifty-two reviews (one per week) published during the year you apply, spread out equally across all the months before you apply.

      Watch the present and past tense in your review. Choose one and stick to it for the entirety of your review. You will get marked down if you do not.

      Have you reviews spread out across multiple genres as well, not one or two. They want diverse film critics.

      BTW, I saw your name on IMDb. Very cool.

      • Thanks for the advice. My tenses are my weak points. I am to be credited again soon for a local film project I am co-writing on. Thanks for noticing. Pretty neat that IMDb thing.

        • Are you are using Final Draft Pro to write?

          • Indeed. My scripts need a lot of work so I am starting a class here on the 30th to master the program and hopefully fully grasp the art. Writing scripts are much harder than I thought.

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