On October 13, C of I alumnus Sean Dahlman presented “Scores for Short Horror Films,” one of the featured events of the annual Idaho Horror Film Festival. Dahlman has worked with the festival for several years, and he took a moment to talk about the show, as well as other current projects with student reporter Austin Kirkham.
What projects have you been involved with since graduating from The College of Idaho?
All sorts. After I graduated, I wrote music for the Idaho Horror Festival, Boise Contemporary Theatre, Boise Art Museum, local film producers, and general gigs around Boise.
Are there are any moments working on these projects that really stick out in your memory?
Definitely writing music for Boise Contemporary Theatre. It was a complete joy being in a room with some of Boise’s best talents and being able to learn from them. I was there every day for 8 hours, writing music and listening to the writers/directors Michael Hartwell and Michael Baltzell. It was a great honor and a gigantic learning experience.
What drew you to writing music for horror films?
It happened by complete accident. I was asked my senior year to write a score for Nosferatu for the Boise Art Museum. I only had a month to write the whole score on piano, but ever since then I have been ask to write for horror films.
Do you often work with alumni or students from The College of Idaho? How does it feel to see familiar faces in the audience?
I am always working with my friends from C of I. I was extremely lucky to be friends with some of the best performers during my time there. Jordan Bowman, Ashton Jenicek, Kyle True, Anthony Parry, Mike Ward and Tasha Sitz, to name a few. And it always feels great to see your classmates and friends in the audience.
Tell me about your current project. What can we expect to see at this year’s Idaho Horror Film Festival?
This time we are charging things up. Usually, I write music for a string quartet for the Egyptian Theatre, but we are performing at The Reef this year, so we decided to make things more suited to the venue. We are combining piano, guitar, saxophone, synthesizer, and bass. We are also doing a series of shorts instead of a feature-length film. It will be an interesting night!
What has been the most challenging part in participating in this annual event? What has been the most rewarding part?
The hardest part is not so much the festival but trying to make a 2-3 hour silent movie musically interesting. Most people do not watch these movies often, so you need to develop ways to keep people interested in the movie for that period of time. At the same time, you don’t want to be too ‘interesting,’ or else people would rather just watch you then the movie. By far the most rewarding part is to play and write music with some remarkable people. I always feel lucky about the friends I have and that I can write music for amazing talent.
If you could meet one classic character in the genre of horror, who would you want to meet and why?
Man Ray and Luis Bunuel. They are not ‘horror,’ but they did lead the avant-garde forward. Especially Man Ray. His Dada style compliments music very well and leaves room for exploration of many styles.
Is there anything you would like to share with us at The College of Idaho? Words of wisdom?
Never expect anything. The more you keep your passions and talents open, the more adaptable you can be for the future.
The College of Idaho has a 125-year-old legacy of excellence. The C of I is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, four NFL players and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. For more information, visit www.collegeofidaho.edu.