I highly advice you write film reviews. If you want to be a good storyteller, you need to understand what components comprise a good story and more importantly be able to recognize when a component is missing.
Film reviews have numerous benefits. They are a great way to get yourself published, they can help streamline your education of cinema, and they have the potential to put a few bucks in your pocket. However, whether it’s for a personal blog, or the local newspaper, being able to properly evaluate someone else’s work (without bias) can help you evaluate your own work.
Film reviews are monsters in of themselves. Like a well told story, film reviews have their own agenda, structure, and outline. Depending on the publication for which they are needed, length can vary as well as its use of emotion. For example, some publications want nothing but the writer’s emotional experience of the film in review and some want no emotion as it registers the film’s box-office ratings.
Either way, when your find yourself evaluating a film, below are a few of the major components of story to recognize.
Intro: Ask and answer the question: “What did you enjoy about the story?” Point out some positive points of the story you felt worked. Then follow with a quick summary of areas of suggested improvement.
- Concept & Premise
- World, Tone & Theme
- Structure, Action & Plot
- Characters & Dialogue
Concept & Premise: Evaluate if the concept and the premise are based on any unique qualities which separate it from other stories in the same genre.
- Was the idea something you’ve seen before? If so, was it a fresh take?
- If not, what stood out which made the idea original?
World, Tone & Themes: Evaluate if the plot presents a strong narrative with a compelling world.
- Do you get a sense of the world?
- How can you tell when and/or where the story takes place?
- Are there clear and consistent themes?
- What is the story really about?
- What questions or statements does the story provide?
Structure, Action & Plot: Evaluate if the structure presents a pacing and rhythm that contributes to the flow of the story.
- How can you tell who the protagonist is?
- What is their goal and why are they actively in pursuit of it?
- Are they active in the pursuing of it?
- Was it structured well?
- Are the act breaks strong and defined?
- How is the pacing and rhythm?
Characters and Dialogue: Evaluate if the characters are fully developed and complex and are authentic to the world of the story.
- Do the characters have clear perspectives?
- How are you able to describe each character and how they view the world in a few words?
- How are you able to describe their personalities and flaws?
Here are some film reviews I wrote for a few companies as an example.
Called Higher Studios – 2019
Winston-Salem Journal & RiverRun International Film Festival – 2022