Many thanks to Baltimore movie critic Tom Clocker for a terrific profile and interview.
Tom: You don’t have to get into too much detail since everyone can check out the full article from The Washington Post, but it seems like you are incredibly busy with your two jobs: Movie Mom, and Corporate Analyst. How do you find the time to see several movies a week, write reviews, and participate in many radio interviews in addition to your second career? Sounds like you should throw in some seminars on Time Management while you’re at it.
Nell: I never use the word “busy” about myself or let anyone else use it about me. In Washington, especially, it is often used in a macho way by people who want to make themselves seem important. Even worse, it is often used by people to explain why they are not doing things they should or would like to do. I told my children if someone says, “I’m too busy” it means “what you’re asking about is not important to me.”
It takes a lot of courage and honesty to take responsibility for the decisions about what you will and won’t do. Sometimes I miss a meeting for a movie. Sometimes I miss a movie for a meeting. But I am always clear with myself and my colleagues and family about what my priorities are. And my family comes first, always.
Tom: If circumstances ever forced you to pick one of your two jobs, and we all hope that never happens, which one would get the boot?
Nell: I’ll bet if one job ended, instead of doing the other full-time, I’d find another part-time job. I’m A.D.D. and find the feeling of going back and forth between two things both soothing and energizing!
Tom: I’m sure everyone wants to know: What is your favorite movie? And, if it is different, what is your favorite Kid’s or Family movie?
Nell: I was supposed to write a book with 200 movies and it ended up with 500, so I have a lot of favorites! But my all-time favorite is The Philadelphia Story. Other favorites include To Have and Have Not, His Girl Friday, Ball of Fire, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Music Man, Yellow Submarine, and many more!
Tom: Finally, do you have any advice for aspiring movie critics? What does it take to become successful and get noticed in a world where anyone with a computer can be an on-line movie critic?
Nell: I have the same advice for any aspiring writer — write! Learn as much as you can and write as much as you can. Have a distinctive voice and point of view. Your reviews have to be lively and informative.
I wrote more than 500 reviews before I got paid for it. Dana Stevens was an unemployed PhD who wrote reviews for her own website that were so good within a year she was writing for the NY Times and is now the movie critic for Slate. This is the best time in history for a writer because anyone can be published. On Rotten Tomatoes, all the critics are right next to each other, print and online, so if you’re good, people will read you. Anyone who has talent, courage, and dedication can make it happen.