Johnny Coffeen, who received an MA in film in 2015, was intimately involved in the recent Academy Awards ceremony, bringing Oscars onto the stage and handing them to the presenters, and escorting award recipients off the stage.
Those he escorted included Jason Bateman, Kate McKinnon, Salma Hayek, Meryl Streep, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, and many more.
Johnny won a Student Academy Award last August for his MIU thesis film and, along with three other student winners, was asked to be a trophy presenter at the 89th Academy Awards.
He was most excited to meet Meryl Streep. “I was pleased how consistently sweet and genuinely humble she was.”
Overall, he says that being at the heart of the event was “beyond surreal.”
“Thankfully the celebrities came in the day before the show to rehearse, so perhaps as a defense mechanism, I had to quickly adapt to the situation by thinking, ‘Oh, you know, no big deal that I’m sitting next to Shirley MacLaine as she talks about her experiences acting in one of my favorite films, The Apartment, while Michael J. Fox and Seth Rogen are across from me cracking jokes about the Back To The Future 2 shoes Seth was wearing.’ ”
He says, however, that he didn’t get any selfies with the celebrities. “Of all days for my phone to break, it had to be during the Oscars, but thankfully it allowed me to be in the moment.”
Johnny was chosen as a winner last September in the alternative category of the Student Academy Awards for his thesis film The Swan Girl.
Seventeen students were selected from a record number of entries that included 1,749 films from 381 colleges and universities around the world. He is the first student from MIU to win such an award.
The Swan Girl, an experimental short film combining live actors and stop-motion animation, tells the story of an artist mysteriously held captive in a studio who sculpts complex figures to atone for his past mistakes. Johnny directed, filmed, edited, co-wrote, and acted in his film.
David Lynch was able to watch The Swan Girl and said it was “pretty damn good.”
Johnny said he was inspired by Lynch’s approach to Eraserhead, which was to gradually shoot the film piece by piece for six years in order to make a 90-minute film. In the case of The Swan Girl, it took six months to shoot the 15-minute short film.
A trailer for The Swan Girl can be seen on Vimeo.
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