Film Review Pointer and Tips On Videotaping Your Review

You may review any film rated G, PG or PG-13 that has been released in the last year. KIDS FIRST! does not provide films for you to review. Just select one that you have already seen or watch a current release in the theater, online or on a DVD. Select a film that is recommended for someone your age. .


Creating Your Written Review

Title: At the top of your review, enter the title of the film (exactly as it is listed on IMDB or on the DVD box).

Byline: On the next line, write: By (your name), age (your age), (date). Your review should be approximately 400 words long.

Format for review:

  • Your first sentence should an exclamatory sentence saying how much you like/don't like the film. i.e. This fantastic animated film had me laughing the entire time.  
  • Follow that with 2 or 3 sentences telling why you like/don't it. Be specific and hit the highlights. 
  • Next paragraph, give a brief synopsis of the film. Don't tell the whole story. Pay extra attention to this because many new writers spend way too much of their review telling what the story is about and not enough time telling what your opinion is of the film. REMEMBER, the job of a reviewer is to tell the audience what YOU think about the film, not to tell all the fine points about the story. Just say enough about the story that people will get an overview of what it is about. Most people already have seen the trailers and promos for any major release and already know what it is about. They want to know what you think of it.
  • Then, the fun stuff. Tell us about the lead characters and the talent who play them. Tip: Use IMDB to get the names of the talent and the correct spelling of their names.
  • Next, comment on anything special such as the sets or locations, animation, costumes, music, special effects, etc.
  • Next, tell us what is your favorite part and why. Maybe it's a favorite character. Or the music. Sets. Costumes. Special effects.
  • What is the message of this film? This is very important. Every movie has a message. What is this movie trying to say? Is it successful? Does it call you to action? Is it a positive or uplifting message? Does it promote positive social behavior? Do people treat one another appropriately? Does bad behavior get addressed or passed over? Is there any bad language? If so, how bad? Do they do risky things that kids might imitate?
  • Wrap it up. Give it a star rating with 5 high. (KIDS FIRST! uses a 5 star rating, so stick with that. Don't wander off)
  • Give it an age recommendation. Give both the lowest and highest age with age 18 the highest. If you think adults will like it, you can add "and adults will enjoy it as well)
  • Last, tell people where they can find it. Is it at the theater? Online? On DVD? Be specific.
  • That's it. You will be surprised how quickly you can write 400 words. Check the word counter on your word processing program or, if you don't have one, do a google search to find one online.
  • Now, submit it to KIDS FIRST! Send either as a word doc, a google doc, or embed in your email.
Things to remember

a. Remember, never give away the ending. It's called a spoiler.
b. Show your enthusiasm. Whether in writing or on camera.
c. Keep your written review around 400 words. Not less and not much longer.
d. Write clearly. Have someone else read your written review to see if they understand it.
e. Be specific. Use your vocabulary. General worlds like "cool," "stupid" and "nice" don't tell anyone anything. Be specific.
f. Use different descriptive words. I.e. Don't use the word "Awesome" three times in one review, either written, videotaped or on the radio show.
g. Be original. Look for a way to make an identity for yourself and stand out from others.
h. Write as if you are talking to your friends who have not seen the movie.


Videotaping Your Review

  • The same things you considered for your written review apply here.  
  • Length. Your videotaped review should be between one and two minutes in length.
  • Before you start recording, make 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 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.  
  • Please do not read your review. Make cue cards to help you remember the key points you want to make but do not read it word by word. We can tell 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, it looks like you're not looking at us.
  • Choose a clean 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. Avoid white walls and windows. Do not shoot with a window behind you. Watch some of our KIDS FIRST! Film Critics reviews to see what we mean.  
  • Dress for the part. Wear nice clothes and comb your hair. Your appearance counts. Remember that millions of people will be looking at you, so dress up for this. Avoid wearing plaids, stripes, small prints or white or red colored clothing as these don't look good on camera. Watch some of our KIDS FIRST! Film Critics reviews to see what we mean.  
  • Frame your shot. We only 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 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.
  • Lighting. This is something 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 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. 
  • 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.


Go to KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Search 2014 Home Page