Lynn Shelton, acclaimed independent filmmaker of Humpday, Your Sister’s Sister, and last year’s Sword of Trust, passed away in Los Angeles on Friday. She was 54.
Shelton’s longtime publicist Adam Kersh confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that she died as a result of a previously unidentified blood disorder.
Born in Ohio, Shelton attended Oberlin College before going on to study Drama at Seattle’s University of Washington. She continued exploring the arts in New York City, receiving a Master’s of Fine Arts in photography and related media at the School of Visual Arts.
After cutting her teeth as a film editor in the industry, Shelton began setting the template for the indie filmmaking movement of the aughts. Her 2006 debut We Go Way Back turned heads at that year’s Slamdance Festival, but it was 2009’s Humpday that made her a name and opened doors.
From there, Shelton knocked out one indie hit after the other, including 2011’s star-studded Your Sister’s Sister, 2013’s Grand Jury Prize-nominated Sundance hit Touchy Feely, and last year’s critically acclaimed dramedy Sword of Trust.
Outside of film, Shelton amassed quite a resume in television, having directed several episodes for The Good Place, GLOW, New Girl, Mad Men, and this year’s Little Fires Everywhere.
Prior to her passing, Shelton had been working on a new script with her Sword of Trust lead Marc Maron. The two had also been dating for the past year.
“I am leveled, heartbroken, and in complete shock, and don’t really know how to move forward in this moment,” Maron said in a statement. “She was a beautiful, kind, loving, charismatic artist. Her spirit was pure joy. She made me happy. I made her happy. We were happy. I made her laugh all the time. We laughed a lot. We were starting a life together. I really can’t believe what is happening. This is a horrendous, sad loss.”
She is survived by her son Milo, her husband Kevin Seal, her parents, and her siblings.
Below, we’ve collected several tributes from her colleagues.
We lost our dear friend Lynn Shelton. We made so many things together. I wish we had made more. Her boundless creative energy and infectious spirit were unrivaled. She made me better. We butted heads, made up, laughed, pushed each other. Like family. What a deep loss. pic.twitter.com/LcowmbGqum
— Mark Duplass (@MarkDuplass) May 16, 2020
Devastating news. I was lucky enough to play a small role in a Lynn Shelton film & she treated her cast & crew like a family. I learned about directing from watching her. The kindness with which she treated people. The room she left for spontaneity. We've lost a great one. 😢♥️ https://t.co/vzMwhL0yic
— Mike Birbiglia (@birbigs) May 16, 2020
Lynn Shelton was one of the wonderful advisors I had the Sundance Labs. I am so sad and in such shock to hear the news of her passing. Her work and her mentorship was deeply affecting to me. Love to her friends and family. RIP, Lynn.
— Nia DaCosta (@NiaDaCosta) May 16, 2020
Lynn Shelton was such an inspiration as a filmmaker and as a person. I finally got to work with her when she directed a bunch of episodes of @love and she was as brilliant as we hoped and everyone adored her. This is so sad. My condolences to her family and her loved ones. https://t.co/iBo4ysAGKx
— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) May 16, 2020
Lynn Shelton 💔 total genius, an original & courageous artist on every conceivable level.
Her work is so inspiring. Humpday I saw at Sundance in 2009, and it was just so brave and wild. Everyone was floored.
Heart breaking. Emitting so much love to her family and friends.
— Josh Trank (@joshuatrank) May 16, 2020
Lynn Shelton changed my life when she handed me the Directing Award at Sundance in 2012. She announced my name with pride. Handed it to me with love. Rooted for me long after. I can’t believe I’m typing this. Rest In Peace, Beauty. Thank you for your films. And for your kindness. pic.twitter.com/KySqgIdqQd
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) May 16, 2020
I am truly shocked at the passing of Lynn Shelton. She was a friend, a kind heart, so talented & only just getting started, despite her stellar work so far. My heart goes out to her family and loved ones. She's left us too soon. I can't believe I'll never hear her laugh again.
— edgarwright (@edgarwright) May 16, 2020
Lynn Shelton was a force. So good, so smart, and so brave. And really kind. Sending my heart to her family and friends. 💔
— olivia wilde (@oliviawilde) May 16, 2020
Lynn Shelton, I am forever grateful for the little time we spent together. You lit up the set of Dickinson the second you arrived. Thank you for your unbelievable energy. You will be deeply missed.
— Hailee Steinfeld (@HaileeSteinfeld) May 16, 2020
What a devastating loss. What an incredible person, nothing but absolute kindness. I feel deeply grateful that I got to work with her. Sending love to Lynn Shelton’s family. pic.twitter.com/QnOX4qXCmq
— Ellen Page (@EllenPage) May 16, 2020
I loved Lynn Shelton's work so much. All her characters are so real and nuanced, and funny, and I wanted to work with her so badly. What a talent. This is such sad news.
— Abbi Jacobson (@abbijacobson) May 16, 2020