So You Like Movies: My First Year as a Film Critic



When I was growing up, I thought film was important to everyone. Despite a set of parents that refused to allow me to see an R-rated movie until I could buy my own ticket (with some very specific exceptions), films were something that I watched with heavy regularity. I assumed that every child had seen Back to the Future before the age of ten, and the thought of someone without a complete love of all things Star Wars and Indiana Jones was something that I could not fully process. Film did not completely consume my life, but it was always there, making its presence known.

It wasn’t until college that I began to become consumed by the medium. My early-rising ways left me looking for a way to fill the void that lay before my mid-afternoon classes. I had been terribly mismatched with a roommate for my freshman year. We spoke minimally and generally stayed away from one another, he was assuredly badmouthing me behind my back as much as I did him. For all that he did that annoyed me, I must credit him for exposing me to a world of cinema that I had previously been ignorant to. I plundered his stack of DVDs. I was offered my first taste of Edgar Wright. I was confused and frightened by Darren Aronofsky’s Pi. Donnie Darko showed how a film could completely bore yet still intrigue me. This was my obsession becoming fully formed.


That’s how it remained for years: an obsession. I learned that you can totally go to a movie theater by yourself. The university became my personal Blockbuster, minus the ridiculous charges. Before Netflix Instant was a thing, I created multiple e-mail accounts simply to take advantage of a plethora of free trial periods. DVDs were my textbooks, and this was my education. The only problem with seeing all of these films by yourself, is that they inspire discussion and I had no one to talk to.

Despite a proclivity for numbers, writing had always been something that I enjoyed. It was a tool that remained largely unused, sitting forgotten in a chest only to be stumbled upon and used on occasion. As these ideas piled in my head with every film I watched, I was reaching a point where I just needed them to escape. I finally had a place to regularly use that tool.

Taking to Tumblr, I wrote for me. I wrote to hold the discussions that my friends couldn’t be bothered with, and it felt good. I used my writing as an outlet, not as a way to make money; this was for me. I didn’t even entertain the thought of sharing these ramblings that is, until people started to find them. Sure, it was just family and friends, but they weren’t simply surprised at my choice of hobbies, but that they actually enjoyed reading what I had to say.

My clacking away in solitude had led to a bastardized discussion. A strange creature that only the internet could foster so beautifully. My self-centered writing had grown out of a desire to share and learn and it was finally finding others to take part. As my confidence grew so did the outlets for me to travel. Excitedly sidelining my fear of rejection, I endeavored to become an actual, screening-attending, film critic.

Now, a year later, I can say that an entirely new education has taken place and continues to move along. I remain unpaid, other than the invites to press screenings that litter my inbox, but in the eyes of that DVD watching freshman, I am a film critic. Over the course of this year, I have spent more time in a theater than ever before, watching, reading, writing, talking, and learning. As I began my journey into criticism, I turned to my friend, the internet, for guidance and was left wanting. My multiple visits to the Oracle of Google turned up little in the way of information regarding the world of film criticism. What should I expect? Where should I sit? How do I do this? What do I wear? Who do I talk to? This is my response. My hope to fill a void. This is the story of my first year as a film critic and the breadcrumbs of knowledge that I picked up along the way.

Join me on this trip of nostalgia, mistakes, and a ton of movies.


About Author

Derek was the only engineer at Northeastern University taking a class on German film and turning a sociology research paper into an examination of Scorsese’s work. Still living in Boston, MA, he blatantly abuses his Netflix account, but can never seem to get his Instant Queue below 200. He continues to fight the stigma that being good at math means you are not any no good at writing. I good write, very much.