Professor of Media and Society Les Friedman was recently featured on a segment of “Connections with Evan Dawson” on NPR’s WXXI Radio. During the segment, Friedman and a panel of experts previewed Rochester’s Science on Screen event at the Little Theatre by talking about Hitchock’s “Psycho” and how psychology is used in filmmaking.
The segment, titled “Science on Screen: Psychology in Filmmaking,” featured Friedman along with James Cutting, chair of the Department of Psychology at Cornell University, and Bri Merkel, special events manager for the Little Theatre. The trio discussed how filmmakers use visual techniques to control the minds of moviegoers, while also breaking down Psycho’s famous “shower scene,” to explore what rules, if any, exist in modern films.
“Much of ‘Psycho’ is you having a sense of what’s going to happen, or even knowing what’s going to happen, while the characters are unaware of the danger that they’re in,” said Friedman, discussing the difference between shock and suspense.
The panel also moved into a broader discussion of the horror film genre and the visual tactics used to control the minds of moviegoers. Friedman compared modern-day horror films to early films such as “Jaws” and “Frankenstein,” noting that “we have become overly obsessed with seeing gore and violence.” Today’s horror films, he said, are targeted toward an audience of male adolescents while early films were made for a mass audience.
The Little Theatre – a cultural center for the presentation of American independent and foreign films, visual arts and music for the greater Rochester community – will air “Psycho” as the first movie in its 2016 Science on Screen series on Tuesday, March 22 at 6:30 p.m. Science on Screen is a national series that arthouse theatres across the country participate in. A recording of the full interview is available here.
Friedman was also recently on a panel for a discussion at the Little Theatre on road films in the 1970s. The discussion, which was held prior to a screening of “Five Easy Pieces,” was also moderated by Dawson and centered around the art of Mark Brady, who chronicled his trip across the U.S. in 1970.