I, Blog Film Critic – or What I did to Get Started

cropped-cropped-rileyonfilm-optimizedI started writing film reviews “seriously” on my blog in 2008. I fould out there is a lot more to it than I first thought. I also learned people have different styles of reviewing films and they don’t have to fit in any particular format to entertain and inform readers. I think the combination of three things has worked to make me feel successful at being a blog film critic: Developing my own style and template, being part of a podcast ( talkingstarspodcast.com ), and using IMDB to manage my watchlist and ratings.

The first film review I posted was back in 2008 and it was on the film, Vantage Point. The language is a bit choppy but I am still proud of it as a whole. I hadn’t yet mastered the rule of italicizing film titles and there are a few grammar mistakes. Still, I’m happy to see that over 8 years ago I was already writing lively stuff about films. Here’s a clip from my review:

“This would be a stellar idea for a movie, but the facts as they unravel are way too planned to have been random, and the parts of the “plan” that unravel are just too perfect to be believable. For example, the terrorists know exactly what room the President will escape to after the shooting, and what about an ambulance? We don’t see one. Another example is when thousands of Spaniards are running through the street and Howard Lewis happens to see and save a little girl whose ice cream he spilled earlier in the square. You must suspend your disbelief to enjoy this film, but it is still riveting to see the different vantage points played out.”

I was crossposting my articles to an online magazine called BlogCritics. I did that for years with much of my blog writing. I’ve since stopped doing that, opting for my own blog and syndication. I did learn a lot from their editors though. Italicizing titles is just one thing. It used to be a great place to get feedback and build credibility as a blogger/reviewer. I got my self-named occupation from them, I call myself a “blog film critic.”

I have tried new things here and there and eventually came up with the style I have now. Probably the most noticeable feature is my use of “pull quotes” in my reviews. I use an IMDB plugin to show all the meta info on a given movie, along with a poster photo. I set this up before I do my writing. I also used css to style the headings. The whole setup is styled after Ebert’s site but mine came out original looking after all. Here’s a screenshot of how it ends up looking. I think it looks very beautful. Below it is the Ebert style to compare. They are similar yet different enough I think.

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The second thing I have done to make a name for myself is get with others on a podcast. You can check out mine at least once a week at Talking Stars Podcast. Finding the right people to start this with is crucial. I tried one on my own for years but it never worked out. Check out my dedicated team in the sidebar of the podcast.

Finally, as a blog film critic, you need a way to manage your movies: the past, present, and future ones. I have found IMDB to be ideal for this but there are other services. I know one guy who just keeps a spreadsheet. Here is my IMDB Profile with links to my watchlist and ratings.

So, in conclusion these are my three ways of getting myself out there as a blog film critic: Developing my own style and template, being part of a podcast ( talkingstarspodcast.com ), and using IMDB to manage my watchlist and ratings. I really enjoy this style of blogging and hope to keep my enthusiasm up enough to do lots more of it through future years.

Author: Damien Riley

I'm a blogger, film critic, & podcaster with an MA in English from California State University, Fullerton. I teach public school, 4th grade as my primary occupation. My views on films and life are usually headstrong and often 'left of center' on movies and life, but I have respect for the other side. I married my high-desert princess (now my queen). We have 3 children.

2 thoughts on “I, Blog Film Critic – or What I did to Get Started”

  1. Interesting post! I agree with you on all three. For me, I began to experiment with one closed-beta blog sites before I went to WordPress. I choose a very simple layout and then decided to expand into the site I have today. Next, I had to find my voice. I’ve seen plenty of movie blog and each one has he or she’s own personal voice. Thus, I had to find my own, which I did. Next, its dedication to it. Finding the time to go see and review movies.

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