BEMIDJI -- From music education to screenwriting for Hollywood, Bemidji State alumna Kathryn Dahlstrom is using her experience in vocal performance to advance her career as an author, screenwriter and film producer.
According to a release from BSU, a Bachelor of Science degree in vocal music education was just the beginning of a long career in the arts for Dahlstrom, a Minnesota native. Graduating from Bemidji State in 1981, she immediately began putting her degree to use in St. Louis, Mo., where she taught music in preschools and daycares for seven years. When presented with an opportunity to move to Los Angeles, Cali., Dahlstrom decided to pursue another lifelong dream of hers -- writing.
“I’ve been wanting to write all my life,” she said in the release. “I did a lot of writing in my college classes and realized that writing fiction is a whole lot of fun.”
Soon after moving to LA, Dahlstrom started a new learning process by attending writers' conferences, working with established writers, communicating and interacting with mentors and doing a lot of reading. It was a four-year process to assemble the base knowledge for her writing, Dahlstrom said, and in 1995 she published her first book series “Good News Club,” a six-book children’s book saga.
After moving to a small farm in Renville County, Minn., Dahlstrom decided to convert some of her stories to screenplays. Throughout her screenwriting career thus far, Dahlstrom has used her undergraduate experience with performance and drama at Bemidji State to specialize in theme development by creating situations of humor and conflict in film scripts, the release said.
This skill led Dahlstrom to “Magic Max,” a story of love and family that follows the life of a magician who takes in his young nephew after the tragic death of his parents. After reconnecting with her California mentors for screenwriting opportunities and samples of her work, Dahlstrom became one of three screenwriters for “Magic Max” that debuted in theaters across the nation in 2020.
“My whole career has been a steady flow of miracles,” Dahlstrom said. “Nothing happens by accident.”
“Magic Max” was specially premiered in Hutchinson, Minn., on Feb. 6, and included a Zoom question and answer session moderated by Dahlstrom with members of the cast and crew.
“The actors just kept fawning over the audience and thanking them for coming out and being there,” Dahlstrom said.
Dahlstrom credits Bemidji State for her introduction to performance and being in the limelight and said her undergraduate experience in the Department of Music helped her understand the drama needed for her work as a storyteller and screenwriter, the release said.
“I’m so fond of Bemidji State, my time there and the friends I made along the way,” she said. “I have the ability to present at events, I can speak at book festivals, I can teach writing seminars and I credit that to the performance experience that I had at BSU.”
With yet another promising screenwriting endeavor in the works, Dahlstrom is fully committed to her new career in Hollywood. Her next film “The Land of Beyond Belief” is currently scouting filming locations in Louisiana and will begin filming this year.