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Michael Pilney is an Atlanta-based professional who reviews books, movies and video games for online and local publications.
Michael Pilney is a professional critic who reviews books, movies and video games. Pilney currently lives in Atlanta and writes for a number of local publications, as well as a variety of online entertainment sites. Pilney has been writing reviews for over 10 years, since the early 2000s. Although his now-career grew out of a hobby, today he works full-time writing in-depth analyses of newly released films, books and games. In his reviews, he thoroughly analyzes every aspect of the topic. In movie reviews, he analyzes the story concept, the story development, the characters, the effects, the direction, and so on. When reviewing a book, he considers story and character development, as well as writing style and word choice. When reviewing video games—his most recent venture—he reviews the game play elements, the graphics, and the controls, among other things.
As a professional critic, Michael Pilney reviews a variety of different genres of entertainment. He reviews the majority of movies that are widely-released in theatres and have generated some buzz in Hollywood. He review a variety of books of different genres, including fiction, non-fiction, mystery, science fiction, and fantasy, among others. He has just recently made his foray into video game reviewing, and has critiqued a number of different types of video games, including role-playing games, racing games, action/adventure games, sports games, and more.
Michael Pilney grew up in Atlanta, GA, in a lower middle-class family. He took an early interest in writing and did well in high school, but did not have money to attend college after graduation. Determined to become independent, he immediately entered the workforce, working at a variety of different jobs. He eventually took a job at a local supermarket, working his way through the ranks from bagboy to cashier to, eventually, general manager. Although he admits he was not in love with his job as general manager of the supermarket, he knew that it was a good, steady job that could help afford him the life he wanted, and he worked there for many years.
Although he couldn’t afford to continue his education, Michael Pilney carried his passion for writing and reading into adulthood. Additionally, he began to become interested in movies, and enjoyed learning about the technical aspects of making movies, as well as the intricacies of story development. In the early 2000s, he noticed that more and more people were taking to the internet to share their opinions on a variety of subjects, including books and movies. Intrigued by the idea, and looking for a new hobby, Pilney decided to start an online blog dedicated to documenting his thoughts regarding movies and books.
At the beginning, his blog was simply a way to combine a few of his interests, and to share his thoughts online. Michael Pilney never expected that anything would come out of the blog—and he certainly did not think it would grow to become his career. However, he soon realized that people enjoyed hearing what he had to say about different forms of entertainment, and his audience quickly expanded.
Surprised but pleased with his unexpected success as an amateur critic, Michael Pilney decided he would see if anything more could come from his reviews. He began submitting his reviews to websites and local publications, and was pleased that they were received with some success. As his popularity grew, he decided to expand his audience base by reviewing video games; these reviews began to be picked up by the online and local media as well. Soon his writing was being featured semi-regularly on several websites and in a few small magazines in his native Atlanta.
As his audience base grew and he became more well-known in Atlanta, magazines and online entertainment sites began to publish his reviews more frequently. Before long, he was able to live modestly off of the commissions that he was paid for his reviews. Finally, Michael Pilney had found something that he was truly passionate about—and that could help him pay the bills. He knew leaving his job as the general manager of the Atlanta supermarket was a risky move, but he had to take the chance to do something he really loved: become a full time critic. He accepted a smaller, part-time position at the supermarket to help supplement his income, and turned the majority of his attention towards his writing.
As the years progressed, his writing became more and more popular. He continued his own blog, but also began to guest post regularly for a number of different online entertainment sites. Additionally, he began to consistently write for small magazines around the area. Although he enjoyed both mediums, writing for online sites allowed him to write more often, and he eventually began writing several pieces daily. Eventually, his writing became so lucrative that he was able to quit his then part-time job at the supermarket and dedicate himself completely to writing.
It was something Michael Pilney never expected—he had always hoped he would be able to find a career that he was passionate about and that paid the bills; however, because he could not afford to go to college, he often worried that his lack of a degree would become a barrier to reaching this dream. After he was able to quit his job at the supermarket, he dedicated himself to helping other children who may find themselves in a similar situation, often volunteering at local schools in the area, giving motivational speeches and helping tutor children in writing.
As his career advanced, Pilney educated himself on how to build websites. When he began his blog in 2000, the internet was extremely basic, and it wasn’t difficult to set up a simple webpage. However, as technology advanced, he realized that he could not continue his blog in a professional way without some training. He subsequently taught himself the basics of building websites, eventually converting his blog into a .com. Additionally, he began tutoring children on these skills when volunteering.
When Michael Pilney is not writing or volunteering, he can be found out with his chocolate lab. He also enjoys a number of different sports, including tennis and basketball, and has considered advancing his writing in that direction.
When Michael Pilney started his blog in 2000, it was a way for him to combine several interests he had held since high school. He had always had a passion for writing, and thought that creating an amateur review blog would be a fun way to combine this passion with his interests in movies and books. He was taken aback by the instant popularity of his blog, and it empowered him to push forward, writing more frequently and eventually beginning to review video games as a way to expand his audience. When other online entertainment sites and local papers showed interest in his writing, he was surprised—but he jumped at the chance to be published, eventually quitting his job at the local supermarket and writing for both sources regularly as a professional critic.
Moving forward, Michael Pilney plans to continue enjoying making a career doing what he loves. When he started his blog in 2000, he had no idea that it would eventually allow him to quit his job as general manager of the supermarket, and make a living playing video games, watching movies and reading books—and giving his opinion on them. However, he recognizes that being a freelance movie critic is perhaps not the most stable career choice—as the internet has taken off, more and more people are taking to the web to post their opinions on blogs, forums, message boards, and so forth. Although this is the exact medium that helped him become a professional movie critic with no experience, it has also made finding information on entertainment easier—subsequently lessening the need for a reviewer’s opinion.
However, Michael Pilney understands that while the emergence of the internet has perhaps made his field less needed, it has also increased the discussion about entertainment, and has led to a more informed audience. Going forward, Pilney plans to take advantages of this informed audience while writing his reviews, and hopes to expand his writing. While his career as a professional movie critic is not set in stone, he knows that he will always write reviews, regardless of whether or not he gets paid for it.
“I don’t want my paycheck to disappear, of course,” he has said. “But I didn’t get into the field for the money. I did it because I enjoy my chosen media and intelligent discussions about them. I’d keep doing it for free if I had to. Any good critic would.”
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