A Visit with Hollywood Insider Katie Strand of the Catalyst Content Festival

Catching the wave of Television’s Third Golden Age

This spring I attended a meeting in which it was announced that ITV Fest is coming to Duluth . Last week the public was invited to a follow-up meeting to announce a name change (ITV Fest is now Catalyst) and to get the word out regarding a Production Guide Project, which will serve as a directory of local talent and services.

The directory would serve as a useful tool for attracting TV and film makers to do production in our region. The rationale is that a production company can cut their costs if they don’t have to ship in all their resources and skills from elsewhere. After all, making movies and television shows is a business, and managing costs is a key variable in the success of any business.

Katie Strand, who was a presenter at both these meetings (along with Executive Director Philip Gilpin, Jr.) was born and raised in Duluth, both of her parents being career teachers here. She’s spent over 15 years based in Los Angeles working in Film and TV Production, and has shot in over 20 states and 3 countries (including China, Texas, Virginia, Florida, New York, and of course, California.)

She soon discovered how job skills and businesses outside of New York and Los Angeles easily translate into well-paying production jobs and vendors, especially in places like Duluth which has a high concentration of people with strong talent and a good work ethic.

One thing that struck me about Katie Strand was how self-assured she appears to be. In both events where she was presenting she completely controlled the room.

After last Wednesday’s meeting we agreed to meet for coffee in West Duluth. Here are her responses to a couple my questions, along with an overview of other themes that came up.

A lot of television programming seems formulaic, with fake applause and makeshift audiences. Is this part of the reason TV producers have tried to move outside of the Hollywood machinery and work independently?

Katie Strand: There’s a ton of reflection taking place in the entertainment media. What I see happening is a distribution shift from the model of going to the movie theater to direct-to-streaming. There was definitely a breakup of the industries around Netflix, streaming and the Internet. There was not enough bandwidth initially but what’s happening now in movies and television is similar to what happened with Napster in the music industry.

The pattern has been 3-to-6 players who own everything. New things get developed and then bought up.

When I taught Communications and Media in High School the students learned how interconnected everything is. It’s important to understand who is giving the information and what their agenda is and what the intentions are of the companies involved.

I’m curious to see what’s going to happen with shows like Girls, Insecure and Fleabag, where you have female show creators who are also on camera. I’m hoping to see that a diversity of voices will keep audiences engaged

When did the Hollywood bug first bite you so that you actually decided to go to Hollywood? When you left home and headed West, what was your plan?

KS: As a child I most loved singing and playing piano, dancing and movies. I was a little performer and as I grew up I felt this call toward being in the entertainment industry. I loved storytelling and movies. As a teen I went to the Arts School at the Perpich Center for Arts Education. During that time I auditioned for a show at the Walker Art Center, which became my first professional, paid gig.

I went to California to go to college in San Diego as a communications major with a film focus and a music minor. While in college I landed an internship as a production assistant, an experience which opened doors for NBC, which led to more work with most of the major networks. Industry contacts open doors.

As a Hollywood insider it’s apparent she’s garnered a keen understanding of the inner workings of the film and television industries. The importance of contacts was underscored more than once, and it became apparent that hustling for assignments is a way of life in Hollywood.

Having Duluth roots has made Strand a strong asset to the Catalyst team. She exemplifies the Minnesota work ethic that is part of our Northland DNA.

The current Talent/Production Guide Project is a high priority and on a tight schedule in order to be ready for the October festival. As she noted at Fitgers last Wednesday, the Production Guide will be useful and is important. Producers and directors need to know they can offset costs by utilizing our local businesses and workforce to service production needs here in Duluth, she explained.

Catalyst, the 14th annual five-day Content Festival is slated for October 9–13 here in Duluth. For information about how to participate or get involved visit the Catalyst website here.

Better Yet Go straight to here’s a link to the PRODUCTION GUIDE Page that lists the kinds of skills and needs they want to have listed in the guide, as well as contact information for Katie Strand, Riki McManus and Keely Gelineau.
To be listed in this local guide fill out the Catalyst Production Guide Contact Form .

An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon

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