Film Review Talking Points and Filming Tips

You will need to select one film to review from the list of "Official Films" in the competition. We recommend that you select a film that is recommended for your age group. There are suggested age groups for each of the films in the competition. Refer to those as a guide.

Submissions Open October 2013

Some Things To Know About Creating Your Written Review.

At the top of the form, enter the title of the film and your name. Write the entire title, exactly as it is on the competition website. Avoid shortening it. This ensures that we know which film you are reviewing.

Your review should be approximately 400 words long.

Format for review:

  • In the very first sentence, give us a short sentence telling us how well you liked or didn't like the film. Use your own words and make them interesting. I.e. This film is so funny, I found myself laughing from the very first scene and didn't stop until the end.
  • Next, tell us why. Why you did or did not like it. As a rule of thumb, whenever you make a generalized statement, you need to then give specific examples of why you said that. So, if this film was hysterically funny, say what made it so funny. I.e. Steve Martin's portrayal of the Dad reminded me of my own Dad in his sillier moments. The way he walked added to the humor.
  • Talk about what happens in the film but don't tell us the ending. Describe the film as if you are describing it to a friend who has never seen it. Many people who read your review have not seen the film yet and their decision to see it might be based on what you say. That's the role of a film critic.
  • Describe your favorite or least favorite parts of the film and say what you loved, or disliked about them. Be specific, give specific examples.
  • Describe the talent and their performances. Use the internet movie database ( to get the correct spelling for the names of actors in the film. Describe your favorite characters and who plays them. Tell us what made their performances memorable.
  • Tell us the message of the film. Is there a moral message? Something that makes you think a bit more deeply about life? What is it and why do you relate to it?
  • Talk about any things that stick out in your mind like the music, the sets, costumes, script, make-up, or the animation. Sometimes, these things really make the film. Tell us about them.
  • Wrap it up at the end. Tell us who the audience is and why. Is it kids your age? Or younger?
  • Give it a star rating on a 1-5 basis with 5 being high. And again, tell us why you give it that rating.


Videotaping Your Review

  • Review the comments above about the content in the review. The same things apply to your videotaped review.  
  • Length. Your videotaped review should be no shorter than one minute and no longer than two minutes.
  • Before you start recording your review, be sure that the room you are in is perfectly quiet. Do not start videotaping when people are talking or there is other noise that the camera will pick up. Have whoever is shooting you say, "Quiet on the set" before they start recording. Don't start talking until it is completely quiet. The microphone picks up every sound in the room.  
  • Do not read your review. Make cue cards to help you remember the key points you want to make in your review but do not read it word by word. We can tell when you are reading. Your review should look and sound as if you are talking to your friend. Reading is distracting.
  • Look into the camera. Imagine that the person you are speaking to lives inside that camera and look directly into the lens of the camera. When you look off to the side, we think you are not looking directly at us. 
  • Be aware of your background. Keep it simple and uncluttered. Select a location that is clean and free of clutter. Don't shoot it in your messy bedroom or kitchen. And watch out for white walls and windows. Neither of those work well either. Watch some of the current KIDS FIRST! Film Critics reviews on our website and imitate the backgrounds there.  
  • Pay attention to how you look. Keep your clothes simple and your hair tidy. Grooming is important because millions of people will be looking at you, if you are selected as a winner. Don't wear plaids, stripes, small prints or white or red colored clothing. Again, watch some of our current KIDS FIRST! Film Critics and pay attention to the type of clothing they are wearing. .
  • Frame your shot. We want to see your head and shoulders not your whole body. A close up allows us to see your facial expressions. And, because the shot is close, you've got to be sure not to wiggle around too much or you will go out of the shot. It's a good idea to practice shooting yourself several times before you shoot the video you're going to enter in the competition. .
  • Watch your lighting. This is one thing that is difficult for many people to get right. You want to have light on your face, not the wall behind you. That doesn't mean you have to go out and buy fancy lighting gear. You can generally find a location in your house that works. You might need to move a lighting fixture so that it throws light onto your face. Again, practice before you shoot. 
  • Watch your sound. Your camera's microphone should be good enough for your submission video. If you have a microphone, hand-held or lavaliere, that is separate from the camera, that's even better.
  • Last. Have fun! I know there are a lot of things to think about but, enjoy it. Just pretend that you're describing a film to a friend.


Entry to our 2014 competition will begin in October 2013. Please come back for details. Voting will end on December 31, 2013.

How to Become a Finalist!

Once you submit your written and videotaped review to the competition, your need to get your friends and family to vote for you. The key way to win a position as one of the finalists is to get votes. Use your social network, ask your friends to ask their friends to vote for you. Be persistent and ask them every day. The more votes you get, the more likely it is that you'll become a finalist!

voteVoting Starts October 2013

How to Become a Winner!

We think that everyone who enters the competition is a winner! Just preparing yourself for the competition, learning how to review a film teaches you some important skills.

And, the winners for 2013 will be selected by our panel of celebrity judges who will review the entry reviews of the finalists and select the winners.

Winners Will be Announced On or Around February 2.


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