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C of I alumnus stars in Idaho Horror Film Festival

A new Treasure Valley festival is looking to make a scare this Halloween season, and the scintillating music of recent College of Idaho graduate Sean Dahlman ’14 is taking center stage in Boise.

Dahlman, a music composition and theory major, wrote an original score for the silent movie Faust, one of the headlining events of the inaugural Idaho Horror Film Festival set for Oct. 16-18. Dahlman will perform his music live on the piano—accompanied by a string quartet that includes C of I student cellist Kyle True—during a 7 p.m. screening Friday, Oct. 17, at the Egyptian Theatre in downtown Boise.

“It’s a great venue and a great opportunity,” Dahlman said. “I feel astronomically grateful and lucky, and I’m definitely not taking it for granted.”

Dahlman, who was known for composing at all hours of the night as a C of I student, has found a niche composing music for silent, scary movies. In January, he wrote and performed an original score for the 1922 classic Nosferatu at the Boise Art Museum. That performance, which materialized thanks to recently retired C of I music professor Lisa Derry, led directly to the IHFF opportunity.

“It’s different, but I enjoy it,” Dahlman said of scoring silent films. “You have to pick a movie that has a lot of great visuals, because certain scenes require more intense music than others. You have to compartmentalize those things, but you get to have a lot of freedom, too.”

The IHFF should provide the biggest public audience of Dahlman’s young career. The three-day festival includes dozens of movies showing at the Egyptian as well as The Flicks theatre in Boise. Highlights include Thursday’s world premiere of Chip and Bernie’s Zomance, Friday’s screening of Faust, Saturday’s free children’s matinee showing of The Hotel Transylvania and Saturday night’s 25th anniversary screening of Halloween V: The Revenge of Michael Myers, which will include a Q & A and autograph session with the film’s star, Don Shanks.

“The Idaho Horror Film Festival is excited to present Faust and the very talented Sean Dahlman,” said festival director Molly Deckart. “His performance of Nosferatu was so much fun, we knew we needed to do it again. The Egyptian Theater is the perfect venue for Sean's latest composition and will harken back to bygone era in film. You won't want to miss it!”

Faust, a 1926 classic, follows a German folk tale about a man who sells his soul to the devil in order to help his fellow villagers, regain his youth and enjoy earthly pleasures. The movie contains elements of fantasy and romance in addition to its frightening themes. 

“I love the idea of the horror festival, and Faust will be a nice addition to it,” Dahlman said. “It’s a great story, and I think it says a lot about the history of scary movies in terms of where they started and where they are now.”

As Dahlman’s career as a musician and composer takes flight, he is mindful of those who helped him hone his talents at the C of I. He counts Derry, Robyn Wells (music) Paul Moulton (Music), Mike Hartwell (theatre) Greg McElwain (philosophy/religion), Garth Claassen (art) and Don Mansfield (biology) among his most influential professors, and appreciates the creative freedom he experienced at the College.

“Musically, I was able to do what I wanted, how I wanted,” Dahlman said. “I could stay in Langroise [Center for Performing and Fine Arts] all night and not get kicked out. My professors allowed me to use the resources available to me without any red tape, and I always appreciated that.”

For tickets and information, visit www.idahohorrorfilmfestival.org. Free tickets are available for C of I students, faculty, staff and alumni on a first-come, first-served basis. To reserve your free tickets, call (208) 459-5529.