Indie filmmaker Lynn Shelton died Friday at age 54. Shelton was best known for helping to establish the mumblecore genre with her films Humpday with Mark Duplass and Your Sister's Sister, starring Duplass and Emily Blunt. She also directed several episodes of television, including New Girl, Mad Men, The Mindy Project, GLOW and Reese Witherspoon's Little Fires Everywhere.
Shelton died from a previously undisclosed blood disorder, reports Variety. Less than a month ago, the last of the four Little Fires Everywhere episodes she directed was released by Hulu. Shelton also severed as an executive producer on the series, which is based on Celeste Ng's book of the same name. The limited series starred Witherspoon as a journalist and mother of four teenagers.
Shelton first worked in the film industry as an editor before she broke through as a director with 2006's We Go Way Back. The film, which she also wrote, told the story of a 23-year-old actress haunted by her 13-year-old self. The film premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, where it won multiple awards. It was rarely seen though until after Shelton's career gained steam.
Humpday was Shelton's first film to catch mainstream attention. Duplass and Joshua Leonard starred as two straight men who decide to create a gay pornographic film. The movie won a "Special Jury Prize for Spirit of Independence" at the 2009 Sundance festival and was distributed by Magnolia Pictures. The film's success attracted Hollywood interest, and she helmed bigger movies during the rest of her career. In 2011, she helmed Your Sister's Sister, which starred Duplass, Blunt and Romseary DeWitt. She had her biggest success with 2014's Laggies, which starred Keira Knightley and Sam Rockwell. It was the only film she directed but did not also write.
Shelton's last film was Sword of Trust, which IFC Films released in July 2019. The movie starred comedian Marc Maron, whom Shelton was in a relationship with before her death. "I loved her very much as I know many of you did as well," Maron said in a statement to IndieWire. "It's devastating. I am leveled, heartbroken and in complete shock and don't really know how to move forward in this moment. I needed you all to know. I don't know some of you. Some I do. I'm just trying to let the people who were important to her know."
Maron called Shelton a "beautiful, kind, loving, charismatic artist," whose spirit was "pure joy." "We laughed a lot. We were starting a life together. I really can't believe what is happening," he added. "This is a horrendous, sad loss."
Shelton is survived by her parents, Wendy and Alan Roedell, and David 'Mac' Shelton and Frauke Rynd; brothers David Shelton and Robert Rynd; and her sister Tanya Rynd. She is also survived by her ex-husband Kevin Seal and their son, Milo Seal.