I never thought I could turn this into anything resembling employment. That is an important thing to start with because, although I am perfectly comfortable with my area of expertise, I had to accept early on that it was going to be an uphill climb to turn that into a viable career.
I got bitten by the critical bug in 2010, and over the last nine years of my journey of cinematic discovery, I always took it for granted that I had the chance to make my voice heard through the Internet.
But of course, I’m not the only one doing exactly that. Whenever I put my thoughts down onto the page about whichever new film I happened to see, I am actively competing with millions of others who are doing the same. The very thing that gave me a chance to make my mark is also the main barrier that is holding me back.
When it came time for Northern Pictures to start filming me as part of Employable Me, my attitude towards being a film critic as a job was rather defeatist. The social media revolution of the last several years has led to a lot of reshuffling within what we consider to be traditional news media.
Print media is still going through major revamping in the face of online content on demand. Hard for a periodical publication to compete with websites that can provide news and critique on an hourly basis.
Hell, my own understanding of film critique is more informed by the works of video critics than print critics.
Knowing that a certain sense of realism is required to accurately find a job in today’s market, I put my aspirations as a film critic down as just a hobby. A hobby that I took great pride in and that has led me to many great experiences, but a hobby nonetheless.
Then I got in contact with Dov, the publisher here at FilmInk. Our first conversation, in my view at least, was a heady mixture of both elation and sobering realisation. The elation came out of conversing with someone else who shared a comparable love for cinema that I had; I’m not usually that good with first conversations with people, but I got along with Dov remarkably well on that first meeting. The sobering realisation came from Dov explaining a lot of what I’ve written above.
As someone with certain pessimistic views of the world, I could never be sure that the internal doubt I felt about this profession was actually warranted, or if it was just my own needless worrying rearing its ugly head again. But Dov wound up confirming a lot of the suspicions I entered the conversation with regarding this line of work, and while I am a bit saddened by having my fears confirmed for once, I’m also glad I was given that moment of clarity.
He didn’t lead me on. He didn’t try and sugar-coat the reality of this line of work: it is a hard enterprise. But at the same time, he also gave me a chance to prove my worth. He sent me out on interview detail, the results of which are shown in the third episode of Employable Me, and from then on, he has sent me out to critic screenings for films to do write-ups as well as interview articles on actors like Sam Rockwell and Idris Elba.
Aside from giving Dov reliable turn-around on my work (usually, he’d find my review for a film in his inbox the same night he sends me out to see them), I also genuinely feel like this is some of my best work in a critical capacity. Working under a word limit and a deadline (two things I don’t use with my self-published reviews) put me in a framework that I feel got the best out of me.
I never thought I could turn this into a career. But after Dov decided to give this self-taught suburban film buff a shot at writing for him, I know that I’m one step closer to that dream.
Closer than I ever would have imagined I’d be.
Make sure you tune in to episode 3 of Employable Me on 8.30pm, Tuesday April 17, 2018 on ABC1. The first 2 episodes are available on iView now.
Check out Cain interviewing Edgar Wright for Baby Driver: