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Psychology of Cinema: Audio/Visual Tools for Audience Impact

Starts February 29

In-person. 2 sessions: Thursdays, February 29-March 7, 6:30-9:30 pm

For directors, cinematographers, sound designers and editors, there are an infinite number of possible elements for any scene. Creating your own deeper understanding of the psychological impact of individual components can lead to a distinct cinematic experience for an audience. As we know, human minds process information on many levels beyond the script or the storyline – so it is the filmmaker’s creative experience to find ways to create unique content that heightens audience engagement through the visual base, movement, use of time, music, and sound components.

We’ll look at sources of established cognitive and emotional principles for media engagement. Then, participants will examine classic and contemporary scenes using a template to “analyze” content. We’ll also review select interviews with recognized creative decision makers, establish basic parameters for your own content based on current psych/cinema research, and then create 1-2 scene maps for your current work (or future projects) incorporating these new concepts.

This workshop will give you the opportunity to broaden your creative choices for best impact. Participants will use their own understanding of psychology while incorporating new approaches to expand development and aesthetic choices.

Learning Objectives

  • Expand cinematic choices through psychological understanding
  • Deepen understanding of color, time, and sound elements
  • Develop structures and processes to improve choices during production
  • Translate story intent to higher impact with unique sensory input
  • Find balance between the expected and the unknown for your chosen genre and form

NOTE: this in-person course is held at FilmNorth, 550 Vandalia Street, Suite 120, Saint Paul, MN 55114. FilmNorth is following CDC’s current COVID-19 variant guidance for Ramsey County:

  • People may choose to mask at any time. Masks are recommended for those who are unvaccinated, immunocompromised, or at high-risk for complications associated with COVID-19 variants.
  • People with any COVID-19 symptoms, a positive test, or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should stay home.

Tuition: $180 regular | $145 member | $115 low-income

Brenda Varda is a recent Twin Cities transplant from Los Angeles where she founded Wordspace, a studio for writers in media and live performance, and was also development lead for Element Media. She has taught a variety of arts and psychology courses at the New York Film Academy and UCR including Psychology of Performance, Media Psychology, Psychology of Cinema, and Creative Writing.

Her own works for stage and film have been supported by the Center for Cultural Innovation, SOSE, UCIRA Emerging Artist Fund, the L.A. History Project, Edge Fest, the Mellon Foundation, and the Gluck Foundation. As a playwright and composer her works have been presented at Sacred Fools, the Industry, CalTech, the Broadwater, Unknown Theatre, and more. She is a graduate of Antioch College (Psychology & Creativity) and UCR (Creative Writing) and a member of the Playwright’s Center, SAG-AFTRA, WGA (past), and SCL. 

Class Registration Guidelines & Cancellation Policy

  • Space is assigned on a first-come basis. Registrations must include payment in full. Registrations are accepted after registration deadlines if space is available.
  • If minimum enrollment has not been reached by 7 days prior to the start date of a class, FilmNorth may cancel it, in which case registrants will immediately be notified and receive a full refund within 2 business days. A check will be issued for registrations that were paid in cash. In lieu of a refund, students have the option of applying their tuition to another class scheduled in the same calendar year.
  • For those needing to cancel a registration at least 7 days prior to the first class session, 100% of the tuition will be refunded minus a $25 administrative fee. For registration cancellations received less than 7 days prior to the first class session, 50% of the tuition will be refunded minus a $25 administrative fee. As of 5:00 pm the day prior to the first class session, no refunds or credits/exchanges will be given (Friday at 5:00 pm for Sunday classes). 
  • Tuition is not prorated for missed class sessions.
  • By registering for this FilmNorth class you are agreeing to our Community Values Statement.




February 29 @ 6:30 pm
March 7 @ 9:30 pm
Event Categories:


Brenda Varda
Registration Deadline
February 28
Maximum Enrollment
Class count or Info
2 sessions: Thursdays, February 29-March 7, 6:30-9:30 pm