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Being a Movie Critic in the Internet Age


I've been reviewing film for more than 10 years, which puts me in a position to offer some advice to those wishing to become a film critic. The last decade has seen a major shift that has been brought about by the rapid evolution of the Internet and its "adapt or die" effect on traditional news services. Having received a number of emails in which aspiring young critics ask me how to do it, I thought I'd put some words on "paper" to give prospective critics a lay of the land.

While there are more practical aspects relating to how to become a movie critic or "watch movies for a living", this article is more of a then and now, which should give you an idea of what's changed and where you're expected to focus nowadays.

My usual advice to critics is for them to start reviewing immediately and consistently to build a portfolio of movie reviews, which demonstrates their commitment, passion and budding talent. Whatever your blog, channel or point of publication, this becomes your hook to get your reviewing on bigger publications, serves as a platform to showcase what you're capable of and can eventually become an income generator if you manage to link with advertisers and sponsors. I'm sure there will be an article that delves more into this at some stage... stay tuned.

The Old West

I remember watching Barry Ronge, who had an extensive presence across film television, radio and print media. A luminary of the profession in South Africa, the iconic waistcoat and beard were almost everywhere in an age when there were only a handful of TV channels and radio stations. An entertainment journalist with a special interest in film, he appeared on arts and entertainment shows, hosted a weekly film talk show on Radio 702 and even had a column called Spit 'n Polish in the Sunday Times. He had a way with words, able to concoct reviews that made it almost seem like he was more of a word chef than -smith.

His counterpart was Leon van Nierop who had a bigger Afrikaans following, a movie segment on G.M.S.A (Good Morning South Africa) and also wrote radio plays and reviewed on radio. Their mainstream media domination made it seem like they were the only two reviewing film in South Africa at that time. While these two film commentators were prolific, there's never really been a true financial model for a movie critic in South Africa, making it a freelance role about contributing to a number of publications, platforms, educational institutions and jobs. While associated with substantial media outlets and platforms, it's not like they were able to dedicate their talent to one home base like many international critics have done over the decades, signing and partnering with regional or national publications.

The Game has Changed

While Peter Travers is forever connected with Rolling Stone and Roger Ebert with the Chicago Sun-Times... it seems as though the very nature of film criticism has changed, evolving with the times as avid readers have turned into watchers. It's not like it happened overnight, Ebert and Roeper's At the Movies show is a great example of how film critics entered the pop culture arena and realised catchphrases like "Two Thumbs Up".

There's just so much content now with the Internet, a low entry level in terms of creating media with cameras on almost every smartphone, that it's become a struggle to get your voice heard in a crowd armed with loudspeakers. Print publications are struggling to attract advertisers now that the Internet has taken the legs out, making the idea of turning pages in a newspaper as nostalgic as slotting in a VHS or cassette tape.

As the old school readership dies off, it's becoming more of an inevitability that publications move from traditional mediums to online spaces. While digital is certainly cheaper than printing, it's a much trickier and more competitive space because you're not just competing with ten other newspapers. There are literally thousands, even hundreds of thousands of news hubs/blogs that are pumping out original and/or regurgitated news.

Generally-speaking, the quality has taken a dive because platforms like Twitter, popularise the idea of instant gratification and make breaking news citizen journalism the new norm. The speed of writing, editing and publishing is difficult for newspapers to compete with when a story has already been disseminated by the time the ink hits the paper.

being a movie critic in the internet age

A reduction in advertisers and ad revenue, has also made print publications more thrifty in terms of how they operate, gather news and even manage human resources. Some have embraced the citizen journalist, making them contributors, a part of the news or the news itself. Many have accepted that they need to move with the times, gravitating to a more even split across print and digital, making it necessary for writers to become more media savvy and report across a spectrum including YouTube, Instagram, Twitter with a need for video and audio know how. Film critics were able to be employed in a sole capacity as specialists, but have now been given much broader job titles in order to keep them locked into the ever-broadening scope of the newspaper, embracing more general entertainment domains and job responsibilities.

With the changes in home entertainment and improved technology making it easier to just stream or watch high quality content from the comfort of your own home in style, it's becoming increasingly difficult for movie houses to remain relevant. While adopting cinema tech and gimmicks to reinvent the experience and maintaining their big screen advantage when it comes to blockbusters, which thankfully seem to be on the rise thanks to the popularity of Disney, Marvel and DC, it just seems so much easier for someone to turn to the closest screen, sit back and "chill".

While it's promising to see a host of streaming giants rising from out of nowhere to hopefully subvert piracy, grow the mid-range film industry and ensure that filmmakers are reimbursed, film-going has been down-sized by media corporations in terms of importance. Hopefully initiatives like Filmocracy will be able to make it easier for the smaller fish to thrive... especially when you consider that when Reservoir Dogs was screened at Sundance it was picked from roughly 250 submissions, when nowadays there are closer to 14,000.

Once viewed as a regular form of entertainment, the new outlook is that it's just not as important to have journalists dedicating their time to pontificating on movies as much. This has led to a situation where newspapers have been opting to syndicate reviews from sister publications rather than employ critics, a cheaper option, which while not localised maintains some level of quality.

This has unfortunately led to many retrenchments, reassignments and resignations over the years, reducing film commentary in the media, and in so doing narrowing the importance of cinema and its movie night regularity. While this may be true for traditional media platforms such as television, radio and print, the Internet continues to flourish with most film critics taking to the online space.

Master of All Mediums

These days you have to write compelling film content, but also open yourself up to the possibility of broadcasting, whether it be recorded for television, online, radio or podcast purposes. With the rise of the Internet news reader, there's been a drop-off in terms of time that people actually take to read an article. The benefit of paper and tangible news service content was that readers were compelled to focus on one page at a time, able to turn their attention to one article and actually read it from start to finish. The Internet has created a glimpse culture where the average time spent on a page is roughly 8 seconds, which means that most people will only take a few seconds to get the gist of an article rather than taking the time to sift through and enjoy the piece.

There are exceptions to the rule, but by and large, this is the new norm, forcing writers to simplify their content and use catchy, often misguided headlines ("click bait") to lure readers to their articles. The Internet is designed around speed, which is no surprise considering how irritated people tend to get when the page loads slowly, making this information highway all about fast and free information.

With the rise of fake news, we are seeing that credibility is becoming more important once again, integrity is also becoming a watchword when it comes to information retrieval and specialisation is making experts indispensable in a time when most know a little about everything, but not a lot about one thing.

Being able to Google is making it less important to actually become an expert in any one subject, keeping things fairly shallow. There are, however, limitations and without the funding, trusted media stalwarts like the New York Times and more recently Wikipedia are at risk of closing or reinventing their information accessibility.

It's becoming difficult not to treat every news item with suspicion, especially when big brands and corporates already have vested interests in media conglomerates and ulterior motives, which can slant reporting to favour one viewer over another. Thankfully, independent commentators and journalists are rising out of the ashes of the old way to hopefully restore some faith in journalism. They say "everyone's a critic", but even with the great film aggregators like IMDB and RottenTomatoes.com, there's space for movie critics who can help sell the drama.

12 Best Sites to Download Series for Free

Source: Ghana News

We all love entertainment but when it comes at a cost many people tend to retreat and find alternative things to do. We have all had our mood spoiled by finding our favourite series on a site only to realize we cannot watch it until we pay. And then there is the problem of paying only to find that your connection is not good enough to download or even stream. Why let such challenges ruin your day? We’ve decided to help you sort this problem out by providing a list of 12 best sites to download series for free.

What could be more irritating than opening your browser and attempting to download a series from many download sites that fail? It’s a simple task but only if you know the right sites. Unfortunately, there is a sea of series download sites many of which are illegal. Sometimes you might download a series successfully but you subject your device and yourself to a lot of risks. These illegal sites are usually a gateway to a tone of malware so be warned. Sometimes you might think you have eliminated such a problem by using free online torrent sites.

There can be no worse way of jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Torrent sites are good but they will most likely get you in legal trouble. Furthermore, you might use a torrent site today and the next minute you can’t find it because it has been deleted by Google. The only solution is identifying the many legal sites that provide a free series download. Here are 12 best sites that might help you download your favourite series:

1. YouTube

YouTube is one of the best sources that people can look for and enjoy any kind of videos. The advantage of YouTube is that it is accessible from anywhere in the world. The only thing you require is an internet connection and you are good to go. Here, there are thousands of free movies and series. You can always find software for downloading series from YouTube.com. You just have to look for a software that doesn’t require you to add an extension or install other third-party packages. After this, you will visit YouTube and search for popular channels that may contain the series you are looking for.

2. Retrovision

A visit to this site opens up a world of many classics and TV shows. The variety of content on this site is very diverse. What’s more, this source for series has an Android app that goes by the name Classic UHF. This app can be used to grab and watch content on the go. It is a growing trend where many sites are creating free movie apps to help people access tailored content quickly. Retrovision TV is genre specific, which makes it very user-friendly when searching for series.

Read the end of the article at https://yen.com.gh/119427-12-sites-download-series- free.html

Cinema Paradiso: Growing Up in a World of Film...

The original Dumbo animated film caught my imagination as well as films like Dot and the Kangaroo, which had been gifted to us children from an aunt in England. Who can forget the psychedlic elephant dance or the dreaded bunyip from Australian mythology? Since these were the '80s, the days before Pixar dominated the home entertainment of most family homes, Disney still ruled. There were regular TV shows like G.I. Joe, Dino-Riders and Gummi Bears, as well as He-man, Bravestarr and Ghostbusters from Filmation... shows that were influential to me growing up. I remember the fortified town's emergency mode from Bravestarr being the inspiration for many drawings. A friend of mine named Evan and I were both very into our art, allowing our imagination to spill onto the page, whether it be drawing knights (possibly an inspiration from my medieval Lego sets) or heavily fortified buildings with gun turrets. These were the days when you actually had to use ink and paper.

These shows of fantasy and high adventure, some with a science-fiction element, were revered and entertained us as impressionable kids. While the episodic nature, formula and enjoyability kept them popular, the VHS tape with Dumbo and Dot and the Kangaroo got plenty of replay value too. It was a big step up from watching local kids TV shows like Pumpkin Patch and Wielie Walie, which had their place but were no contest for the dream actualisation and storytelling ability of the Filmation series.

growing up in a world of film

I can remember hearing the theme tune to shows like Twin Peaks and Dallas echoing through the passage as my parents switched to more adult-themed TV series at roundabout 8:30 on weeknights. The big thing at that age was trying to watch shows that you weren't allowed to, constantly being intrigued by the VHS covers at the local video store, displaying the titles and images of films that were not for young eyes. The Fright Night VHS cover was particularly nightmarish, enough to give you the chills even just looking at it. I remember the cover for It, where Pennywise has elongated monster fingers peering from up on high in an equally frightening scenario. Powerful images like the one from Platoon where Sergeant Elias is gunned down also left a mark.

I remember watching films at a friend's house where the odd sleepover often resulted in catching an M-NET movie in the 2-16 age restriction category. The most infamous of these viewings was Child's Play, about a possessed doll named Chucky who "just wants to play". Being a toy, there must have been some curiosity but I must say that the scene involving the actual possession did linger, reinforcing that striking Ster-Kinekor and FPB advert where images from a horror movie are flashed across the boys face as he sleeps.

The biggest mistake was probably watching Stephen King's It when the M-NET movie guide was giving it the 2-10 age restriction, which subsequently went up to 2-12, 2-14 and 2-16 with subsequent TV guides. I remember watching It in my parent's bedroom, alone probably because no one else really wanted to watch it. The anticipation must have been incremental since I had been counting the days until I turned 10. Nevermind the dreams of being shunted down a dark passage of doorways until a scythe from one of the empty doorways before pulling me in. Once again, 2-10 still seems quite low for that TV miniseries, which probably haunts some viewers today even if they were older than the required viewing age.

All this is to say that film has had a considerable influence, which started in my childhood and has remained, allowing me to cultivate my fascination and love for the medium into my adulthood. The power of dreams, the ability for filmmakers to take you to other worlds and the knack for capturing your emotional state and engaging with you on an intellectual level, it's one of those rare things that entertain and compels viewers. Isn't it funny how many of these shows and films have been remade for modern audiences... probably by people who were also influenced growing up?

The human mind is complex and film is multifaceted, from integrating various art forms to relaying hundreds of messages about culture, style, politics, gender, sexuality... the list goes on. Most, time capsules for the age, it's very revealing in the way the medium is controlled by those with the power at the time. This gives it a certain level of undercover honesty, which you'll experience when watching old Bond films that have a lot to say about the ideals of masculinity at the time.

We really don't realise the influence that film has over us, empathising for villains or operating on a much more subconscious level. It's no wonder that film has often been the first choice for propaganda, controlling the viewpoint and in so doing trying to realise an agenda. This is probably why horror films don't scare me as much as the ulterior motives of those making the film.

Having always found inspiration in the creative pursuits of English and art, it seemed like a natural progression for me to try and combine my passion for both fields into a pursuit that requires an understanding of both, film criticism. I hope that I can continue to watch films, from the perspective of enjoyment and analysis well into my old age. While they can be dangerous, intoxicating and subversive, they are equally dreamy, inspiring and powerful in bringing about positive change.

'The Three Wells' Podcast featuring Vicki Bawcombe

The Three Wells podcast is based on the principles expressed in Matthew Kalil's book, The Three Wells of Screenwriting. Working screenwriters, film professors, first-time screenwriters, adaptation writers, TV writers, commissioned writers, script editors, playwrights, novelists, songwriters, journalists, documentary writers... anyone looking to break into their next idea or overcome writer's block can benefit from this practical screenwriting aid.

With Spling as the host of The Three Wells podcast, Matthew gets to the nitty-gritty of what it takes to be a writer, how to find inspiration and how to apply The Three Wells of Screenwriting methodology through the lens of the films, TV shows and novels of screenwriters and authors.

Vicki Bawcombe is a screenwriter, script editor, story facilitator and arts practitioner, who has facilitated studies at AFDA, City Varisty, UCT and SAE Institute.

Pivoting around the metaphor of a well and finding your deep sources of inspiration, the concept deals with the External Sources well, the Imagination well and the Memory well. Kalil discusses how one digs into each of these wells in terms of what's been gleaned from pop culture, what the mind can fathom and how our experiences can be leveraged in the writing process.

An extension of the book, Kalil uses the podcast as a platform to discuss the writing process with renowned screenwriters and authors to unpack how they've come to rely on each of these wells in their writing journeys. Speaking about each of these wells and finding out how these screenwriters operate, you'll be able to get a better understanding of the core principles at play in The Three Wells of Screenwriting and hopefully be inspired by some of the ideas and concepts for your own projects.

Here's a review of Matthew Kalil's book, which will give you a much greater understanding and a veritable treasure trove of honest advice that has helped him and is worth revisiting.

This The Three Wells podcast was recorded at Fine Music Radio's recording studio at the Artscape in Cape Town, South Africa.

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