The first question I get when I meet aspiring film critics is always the same: "How do I do what you do?" My standard response -- "Dumb luck and good blackmail material" -- isn't particularly helpful, but at least it's honest. Getting a job as a professional film critic is like winning the lottery; the worst paying lottery in history.
The folks at Indiewire are passionate about film criticism. And more than that, they're passioante about championing new, young voices in film criticism. That's a big reason why they started this blog and an even bigger reason why they're launching an exciting new partnership with the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the Swiss Association of Film Journalists, and the Locarno Film Festival to send six college-age participants to Locarno to cover the festival. Here's some actual advice for aspiring critics: apply for a spot in this program. Here's Indiewire's Eric Kohn, with more details about Indiewire's Locarno Critics Academy:
"Indiewire and Locarno will select six college-age participants to attend the two-week festival in early August, where they'll write about the program in a deadline-driven environment. With the support of Gohner Stiftung, the festival will provide housing from July 31 through August 11. Indiewire will contribute with a share of the travel expenses depending on the country of origin of the participant.
"During Locarno, participants will work with me and other critics and journalists to cover the festival on a daily basis. Their writing assignments will appear in Pardo Live, the festival's daily newspaper, the Film Society of Lincoln Center's website, filmlinc.com, and Indiewire's Criticwire blog. They will also be encouraged to pitch other outlets based on their experiences in Locarno."
Yes, that's right: the six critics selected will have their work published on Criticwire. So if you've ever wanted to know what it feels like to get pestering emails from me at three in the morning, this is your chance!
In all sincerity, if I'd been a college-aged critic when this program was around, I would have murdered a kitten to participate. A trip to a major European film festival, the opportunity to get published at a variety of respected outlets, and, best of all, the chance to make connections with and receive feedback from working film critics from around the world, all add up to an invaluable opportunity. Here's what you need to apply:
1) CV: A basic one-page resume
2) Contact information for two recommendations (professors, employers, etc.)
3) Four writing samples about film. These can take the form of film reviews, scholarly papers, blog posts, college newspaper clips, or any other written work that you think demonstrates your writing skills.
4)A 500-word statement of intent. Tell us about your background and why you would make an ideal candidate for in the Critics Academy. Also note any particular interests you have as a critic (genres, national cinemas, etc.). Passion, strong writing skills and a deep knowledge of film history matter more than overall experience, so this is your chance to really make a case for yourself.
Send your application in the body of an email by June 22, 2012 to SUMMERACADEMY@PARDO.CH -- and if you have questions, contact Eric Kohn at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck! I can't wait to work with the winners.
Read more about Indiewire and the Locarno Film Festival's Critics' Academy.