Tuesday, February 2, 2016

How MoviePass Can Help the Aspiring Film Critic

A note about the following post before we being: This is a post where I will be extensively discussing a product/service.  While at times it may seem like a paid advertisement, I don't believe in writing articles that are bought and paid for.  If you are a film critic for a living it is against your interest to do commercials, shopping network programs, or paid advertisements,  I may elaborate more in a future post, but the key thing to take away from this is that by doing this it undermines not only the reviews you write, but of any recommendation you might have for anything.  So while a post of the ethics of writing articles that are really product placement is likely needed somewhere down the line, I wanted to write about this product first, so just be assured that I'm writing this of my own free will and not being paid by the company who makes the product/service in any way.

Alright, let's get on with the show.

One of the questions I get a lot is how does one become a film critic.  Honestly, the answer is WAY too complex for just one post (that's why we have this blog here)!  Obviously to become one involves lots of writing, time, and usually more than one rejection letter to join the Online Film Critics Association (or whatever guild you attempt to join).  Graduating from college is a bonus, but speaking as a college dropout I can assure you it's not the end of the world if you don't.  One thing that is pretty obvious though is that if you are going to do this job you need to see a LOT of movie!  Not only that, you have to see as much as you can.  There is no picking and choosing specific genres to only review (unless your site is dedicated to that genre), you have to see a little bit of everything.  Another thing that is pretty obvious is that this is going to cost money, as you don't just break onto the movie scene being invited to critics screenings.

No, you have to pay for the movies yourselves.  This is where the whole "self made writer" thing becomes tricky, as it becomes much harder to justify paying for bad movies when you are doing this for free and trying to make a name for yourself.  Tickets are expensive and there are more movies than ever being released each week.  What is the solution?  Well aspiring critics, I have found a service that may not solve all your problems, but it will help with this dilemma a lot.  It's called MoviePass, and it is pretty much the Netflix for movie theaters.  It's not available everywhere, but for those who live in areas it is I can assure you it is will worth the investment.  The cost of the monthly membership varies from city to city, so we're going to use my $45 a month cost as the starting point.

While have been gifted in the sense that I do get invited to many critics screenings, there are times movies aren't screened, or I simply want to see the movie again with some friends, and thus buying a movie ticket in both these situations becomes a requirement.  In the past month I had to actually buy tickets for the following films for one of these two reasons:

Kung fu Panda 3 - $11.99
Youth - $7.50
Son of Saul - $12.99
Norm of the North - $12.99
The Forest - $6.50
45 Years - $7.99
The Hateful Eight - $13.99
The Repentant - $12.99
The Danish Girl - $7.50

Altogether it would have cost me $94.44 to see all these movies, but thanks to MoviePass it only cost me $45 to see them and I saved $49.44.  Some months I save more, others I save less.  Some months all the movies are free for me through screenings, and MoviePass finally makes some money off me. It should be noted the service does not grant you access to 3D, IMAX, XD, RPX, or D-BOX screenings, so for those you are on your own.  As you can see, if you want to be a film critic this is a logical service to sign up for.  You will need to see lots of movies.  You will have to see movies you don't want to see.  You have to put yourself in front of things you never dreamed you would ever watch, and while you can't be expected to see everything at first, eventually the public will expect that of you if you are to make a dent in this business.

I get invited to so many free screenings that sometimes I can't even remember when the last time I paid for a ticket was.  I hold onto my MoviePass though because it provides a great service for me, and if you are just getting started this is a great idea for you too.  Now, that said, I do want to mention that if you do decide to get it, you are hooked for the long term.  While I haven't heard of too many people canceling their subscription due to dissatisfaction, it should be noted that once you've been subscribed for a couple of months, you are on the hook for a whole year whether you realize it or not.  In the user agreement you will find that if you terminate the subscription before the year is up, you will pay some hearty cancellation fees, so find out what those fees are before you sign up and decide if this is something you really want to be committing to for the next year.

Even so, for me this would be a pretty easy choice if given the option years ago.  If you want to do this for a living its most likely because you love movies.  You'd probably be going to the movies once or twice a week even if you weren't thinking of getting into this business.  So on a personal level this would be a great deal since you only need to see four prime time films to break even.  If you want to do this professionally and are starting out with a personal blog or website (ha!), this may be one of the most important tools you'll have to getting your career off the ground in a stress free way!


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