Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Reel Deal: Writing about Movies

As an instructor at the Long Story Short School of Writing, I’m pleased to share the following information about "The Reel Deal: Writing about Movies," an online course I’m teaching there.


In the arts, the critic is the only independent source of information. The rest is advertising. --Pauline Kael

"It stinks!" -- Jay Sherman

Reviewing movies, of course, is much more difficult than tossing off a cryptic comment like the one from cartoon character Jay Sherman above. And it’s more complicated than Roger Ebert’s “Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down” appraisal. Nevertheless, because of the powerful role movies play in popular culture, good critics are needed to provide honest, independent opinions about the quality of films being released today -- just as the late Pauline Kael pointed out in her famous quotation.

Maybe being a film critic isn’t the best job in the world, but it’s one of the most satisfying if you have a passion for movies and writing. This course is designed for students who want to learn various techniques for writing movie reviews as well as for interviewing actors, directors, screenwriters and other film-related personnel.

Perhaps you’d like to be the next Roger Ebert or Pauline Kael -- a respected critic with influence throughout the world. Or maybe you’re simply interested in writing better reviews for your own Website or Blog. In either case, this course is a good place to start.

First Session: Developing a Reviewing Philosophy.

In this session, we’ll explore the role of the critic and his/her responsibility to readers as well as objectivity vs. subjectivity, film knowledge and ethical concerns related to film criticism.

Second Session: Deciding What Matters about a Film.

The second session examines such important topics as: art vs. business; universal themes; personal and social impact of films; plot and character arc; production values; directing; cinematography; background music; editing; music; and actors’ performances.

Third Session: Organizing and Writing the Review.

This session covers the basic steps involved in writing a cohesive, insightful and entertaining review.

Fourth Session: Dealing with Negative Feedback.

Most critics receive their fair share of “hate mail.” Our fourth session provides tips for appropriate responses to such messages. This is the most fun session – and a prize will be awarded to the student who writes the best reply to a hypothetical “hate mail” message.

Fifth Session: Conducting Celebrity Interviews.

The fifth session offers suggestions for questions to ask actors and other film personnel when interviewing them about their movies. It also includes information about how to obtain such interviews.

Sixth Session: Finding Outlets for Your Articles.

Our final session provides advice on how to get movie reviews/interviews published in print and on the Internet.

For details concerning registration and fees, please go to::

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