Producer/Director Gary Winick, Dead at 49

ON

All the Oscar celebrations last night were marred slightly by the report from Cinetic’s Matt Dentler on Twitter that producer/director Gary Winick passed away yesterday, just short of his 50th birthday:

“Gary Winick died today. Too late to make the Oscars tribute, but way too early. He leaves behind a legacy of supporting indie film and NYC.”

Most moviegoers would know Winick for his studio fare, his most recent film being Letters to Juliet, starring Amanda Seyfried, but also, he directed the big screen adaptation of Charlotte’s Web, the comedy Bride Wars which pit Anne Hathaway against Kate Hudson, and Jennifer Garner’s popular comedy 13 Going on 30.

Before going the studio route, Winick was a mainstay in the New York City indie circuit, directing low-budget films throughout the ’90s and early ’00s, including The Tic Code and Tadpole. More importantly, as co-founder of InDigEnt, short for Independent Digital Entertainment, Winick helped start a movement of filmmakers making films for under $100,000 using then-burgeoning digital video technology, producing 19 films including Richard Linklater’s Tape, Ethan Hawke’s Chelsea Walls, Rebecca Miller’s Personal Velocity, Peter Hedges’ Pieces of April and Steve Buscemi’s Lonesome Jim.

Not a lot of details are known of how Winick died, but he clearly made an impact on the world of independent filmmaking as well as finding a way to transition to mainstream filmmaking, and many in both worlds are stunned by his untimely passing.