As part of our coursework we are also required
to produce a double page review spread showing
obvious links and inspiration to an existing
To do this however we need to first research
different magazines in regards to their target
audience, structuring of reviews, style of writing
and their presentation.
In this presentation I will begin to explore
different film magazines available so I will
eventually be able to choose an appropriate one
as a format for writing my own review.
In this presentation I will specifically focus on
different magazines’ reviews and design.
Magazine now defunct.
Covers a range of films but seems suited to a wide
On this cover we can see it chooses to cover
mainstream films to draw in general audiences of film
Doesn’t have a particularly original sense of style and
design running through it.
Reviews open with questions, eg “If or It’s”. This is
an engaging and more light hearted way of opening
a review by giving some context or asking a
rhetorical question to the audience.
Their reviews have opinions in them but are more
informative and leaving it to the reader to decide
whether they want to see it rather than trying to
implant a set opinion.
Reviews are very simply set out and the
information such as the title and text is easy to
find and decipher if the reader was seeking a
My issue with HOTDOG is that it doesn’t seem to
have it’d own identity or recognizable style of
reviewing so it is not a magazine I’d want to base
my review on.
Little White Lies
The most “arty” and design conscious magazine I’ve
Has an emphasis on one film per issue which tends to
be obscure to appeal to a more knowledgeable and
Only have a small office and you have to subscribe to
the magazine so they have a very specific appeal but
are accessible to a wider market through their
Reviews tend to be verbose and descriptive.
The features and longer reviews have stills
and on location photos.
The first paragraph always sets the scene as if
it were a story then that is continued and
woven in with context and criticisms.
LWL uses some obscure references that a
general audience may not understand so they
are writing for a very knowledgeable audience
who they presume will understand their ideas.
The smaller reviews are still written in a more
imaginative and story-like way but still contain
essential information such as the title,
release, director and stars.
I really like the aesthetics of LWL. I like how
they combine art and graphic design to make a
unique looking magazine for a more
I would very much like to base my review on
LWL but I worry that they are so verbose and
definitive in the style of their writing I may
struggle to mimic their sophisticated tone.
Sight & Sound is a BFI funded and produced magazine.
It claims to cover every film released in the UK in the
time between issues.
The audience for it is a knowledgeable and academic
one as this is the “cleverest” publication I’ve studied as
there are many references to obscure films.
They also tend not to focus main reviews on obvious
main stream choices, instead they go for smaller
releases and support foreign films.
There are hundreds of reviews in this magazine and
because of all the writing there are not many photos
or graphics which makes it less engaging on an
aesthetic level but would appeal to it’s academic
The reviews usually contain comparisons to other
films, background and notes on genre etc.
Despite their complicated lay out the reviews
themselves are not as descriptive and narrative
driven as LWL but they are more informative.
When writing my own review I would steer clear of
basing it on this magazine as the audience is a very
academic one with over average film knowledge
which I am not confident in matching.
There also isn’t much distinctive design and as my
short film is quite experimental and arty I would
want the layout and design of my double page
spread to reflect that.
Sight & Sound
Total Film is one of the UK’s most popular
film magazines and is similar to Empire in
that it’s aimed at a vast audience of
They have more focus on mainstream films
and are more sensational in their design to
appeal to a general audience as it’s an
easily and widely accessible magazine.
Their reviews tend to be written with a
witty and quip like tone.
They tend to just talk about the film
that’s being reviewed rather than making
references that are too obscure for the
average film fan to comprehend.
Their reviews don’t assume the reader
has a wide existing knowledge and are
easy to follow whilst having an opinion
that isn’t overly biased.
Their design of their extended reviews
are not particularly unique or original but
still attention grabbing and attractive.
Total Film is a good example of a popular
film magazine with wide spread appeal
however I am not sure, if my short was a
feature film, they would dedicate a
double spread to it as it wouldn’t be
aimed at a mainstream audience.
Empire magazine is a long running publication
and the one I am most familiar with being an
avid reader myself.
They are the main competitor with Total Film
and aim at a mass market of film fans.
They are published on a monthly basis and
although their primary focus is on mainstream
releases they still cover smaller productions and
dedicate space to more independent films.
Empire reviews have a definitive tone and voice.
On the website it gives advice on how to write for
them, “Empire reviews should be written in the
Empire style, they should never use the personal
pronoun - "I think this etc.“ – this demonstrates
how they know what their style and voice is and
as they are so successful it is without
If they like a review they tend to put the good
points first and then bad and vice versa.
Also when they include a picture on a review or
feature they always come up with a jokey
caption, even on a serious film. This gives the
magazine personality and means it doesn’t read as
rigidly as something like Sight & Sound.
Their double page review design is recognisable,
there are always larger quotes scattered, the
same font (as in all the magazines I’ve
investigated) and the same layout of information.
I really enjoy reading Empire and think it may be
a good candidate to base my review on. I like the
fact their reviews all have a personality but
despite lots of different writers the reviews still
have a similar feel to them which I think I could
have a good chance of mimicking in my own
I have enjoyed looking through and carrying out
primary research into the content and styles of
different film magazines.
Through this research I have discovered that all
magazines approach reviews and design different and
everything they publish is carefully considered in
matching the target audience, tone and personality
of the publication.
Upon reflection either Empire or Little White Lies
would be the best candidates to focus my own review
upon as they have a definitive sense of voice and
style which the others didn’t.
At this early stage I feel I have a good understanding
of different magazines and which ones would be most
appropriate for my future double page review.