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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) BFA Acting for Film Alum Michael Johnson Receives Inaugural Elan Vega Award

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    Before he unexpectedly passed away last summer, New York Film Academy (NYFA) 1-Year Screenwriting conservatory and BFA Acting for Film alum Elan Vega lit up the lives of everyone around him, especially his NYFA classmates. His positivity, hard work, and commitment to the arts now lives on through NYFA’s Elan Vega Award, and it was no surprise that the award’s first recipient was NYFA 1-Year Filmmaking conservatory student and BFA Acting for Film grad Michael Johnson.

    Both Johnson and Vega graduated from the BFA Acting for Film program at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus. Both alumni also sought to expand their artistic talents into other avenues; in Spring 2019, Johnson enrolled in NYFA-LA’s 1-Year Filmmaking conservatory while Vega began studying in the 1-Year Screenwriting conservatory. Vega was a veteran of the United States Marine Corps who had a huge heart and who personified service, perseverance, and passion. Johnson is also a military veteran, having served in the US Army, and shares these same virtues, making him the perfect choice to receive the inaugural Elan Vega Award.

    Michael Johnson Elan Vega Award

    NYFA alum and Elan Vega Award recipient Michael Johnson

    The award will be distributed each semester by New York Film Academy in Vega’s honor to students that embody Vega’s kindness, selflessness, and thoughtfulness, students who have demonstrated the desire to help their fellow artists whenever and wherever needed, as Vega had done so many times. Vega loved the process of storytelling, our community, and the friends he made at NYFA, and elevated both his classmates and his program with his enduring attitude.

    To that end, the Elan Vega Award includes both a beautifully-crafted plaque and a financial grant to help recipients further their studies and artistic pursuits. Johnson received the award in February in a ceremony attended by, among other NYFA senior faculty, actor and NYFA Master Class instructor Matthew Modine.

    Michael Johnson Elan Vega Award

    Michael Johnson receiving the Elan Vega Award with senior NYFA faculty

    Like Vega, Johnson is beloved by his peers in the NYFA community, as well as his instructors and other faculty and administration. While the tragic passing of Vega will never be forgotten, his spirit living on through his friends and through future graduates of NYFA who embody that spirit is something to celebrate. Friends and classmates of both Vega and Johnson were glad to see Vega’s memory honored by Johnson, who gave a heartfelt acceptance speech at the award ceremony.

    New York Film Academy congratulates 1-Year Filmmaking conservatory and BFA Acting for Film grad Michael Johnson on receiving the inaugural Elan Vega Award and honoring the spirit of NYFA alum Elan Vega.

    Michael Johnson Elan Vega Award

    NYFA alum and Elan Vega Award recipient Michael Johnson

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  • NYFA Grad’s Award-Winning Film Captures Gays in Military

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    LingerAfter being raised in a military family, the idea for New York Film Academy Filmmaking graduate Molly Calliste’s thesis film, Linger, came quite naturally. With the theme of the film in mind, Molly’s best friend’s situation truly shaped the story. One of her close friends was a gay U.S. Marine terrified by the thought of being outed. He lived in fear as to what would happen–the least of which he thought would have been a dishonorable discharge.

    “He couldn’t scream about the betrayal he felt,” said Molly. “So I thought perhaps, I could whisper it.”

    And this is what paved way for her film, Linger, which is about the United States military’s handling of gays or suspected gays in the armed services. The forced secrecy, the badge of ‘shame’ and mostly, the betrayal of what is taken when your country fails you on such a level.

    So far, her message is being heard at film festivals around the country. Linger has received an Award of Merit at IndieFest and screened at the IndependentFilmmakerProject. Her upcoming screenings include the NewFilmmakersNY Film Festival fall series on November 12th at 7:15 PM and Bakersfield Film Festival on November 9th in Bakersfield, California.

    Molly was born and raised in Grenada, the British West Indies, but has been living in New York City since the age of twelve. She chose to study at NYFA because of its intensive, hands-on curriculum.

    “My training at NYFA was singularly instrumental in the production of this film, as well as several others. I knew nothing of storytelling in terms of moving pictures, except what I liked and didn’t like. I knew a good film when I saw one, and kept an open mind for the most part, but what I learned from NYFA was not just technical–though a large part of it was. It was also political, and dealt with the ethics and hierarchy of filmmaking. Essentially, you put into it what you hope to get out of your production, and your reputation travelled a lot faster than you ever could in filmmaking. When I didn’t know what I was doing, which was often, I asked for help. Instructors at NYFA: Piero Basso, Lanre Olabisi, Claude Kerven, Ivan Julien and many others were always eager to help. I will always be a perpetual student when it comes to filmmaking.”

    Molly’s hope is for Linger to ‘reach’ at least one person, who in turn might alter their perception on how they view a simple human choice.

    Aside from Linger, Molly has recently completed post-production work on a feature film directed by a fellow NYFA alum, Manoj Annadurai, titled Get Happy. She’s also trying to raise funds to film her own feature, tentatively set to begin filming November of 2015.

    Linger canon

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    October 13, 2014 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5213