Gary Winick’s Birthday

Gary Winick’s birthday is today. He died in 2011.  Gary was the reason I returned to film making. I had decided to write fiction, because I couldn’t get any money for my films and I didn’t want to make the kind of films that I could get money for. I couldn’t stand to wait for permission to tell stories, waste my life waiting for that permission, and fiction was a way of continuing, so I had kind of shrugged and walked away–but only after a couple of very bad experiences in the film business. And one day Gary, who knew Angela, my first film, very well, called and asked me if I had anything that could be made for 250,000 dollars. He had set up Indigent, a company working through Bravo, making low budget movies with experienced filmmakers. All the heads of department owned a piece of the film. I told him I had some stories I could adapt. I had The Ballad of Jack and Rose (then called Rose and the Snake) as well but I wasn’t giving that precious story to the kind of nightmare production I envisioned we would have at that price. He read some of the stories and suggested we do three and we link them through the voice over. I wrote the script in two months. I kept asking him about this and that, things I wanted to do. He said, “You don’t understand. You can make the movie. You don’t need to ask me anything.” I mean, I had to have recognizable people in it, but not stars. But the script–the script was not constrained. I was free. That was such an amazing gift. We (My producer, Lemore Syvan, was very much responsible) went on to make the film in 16 days. When Gary and I went to Sundance, we both won prizes: his film, “Tadpole”, won best director, and “Personal Velocity” won best cinematography and the Grand Jury Prize. Without Gary I don’t know if I would ever have made another film;it was the success of Personal Velocity that allowed me to make The Ballad of Jack and Rose, and then I was back in the game. He had such generosity, such insight. He was able to extend his creativity to other people, to feel nourished by the success of his colleagues. He was a rare spirit. Happy Birthday, Gary.

4 Responses to “Gary Winick’s Birthday”

  • Happy birthday and thanks Gary for gettin Rebecca. into film. And Thanks for letting us get to come into your world so close… very touching.
    In college my painting. Prof. Would walk in and yell to the studio. ” STAY TRANSPARENT ”
    I NOTICED you like that description in people… In paint it works wonders. Tell your son. PAINT TRANSPARENT.” ACRYLIC. IS FASTER THAN OILS .. GLAAZES CAN DDRY IN MINUTE instead of days in oil… ” STAY TRANSPARENT” Thanks for comin to TULSA

  • Debbie Chang:

    I just watched The Ballad of Jack and Rose, and loved it so much. I think you captured the dialogue and sometimes inscrutable behavior of teenagers, and just right. I thought this movie worked on so many levels. I was entranced by how the story unfolded to show how Rose was her father’s daughter, how she repeats behaviors modeled by her father, how cherished ideals are passed on and take on new life, how easy it was for Jack, a loving father, to forgive his daughter, and how he knew how much forgiveness he needed (but she just says, “Go to sleep”). The tragic-idyllic quality of their love was heartbreaking. I didn’t live through the 60s, but I’ve heard how different people thought things could be, and how a great many negative consequences came out of throwing tradition overboard. That great line from Ryan McDonald’s character about innocence being dangerous could be said of that tumultuous decade. All the performances were wonderful, and it is clear Jack and Rose was made with a lot of love (down to the cozy details of the earth-sheltered dwelling). I am so glad you made this film with the encouragement of such people as Gary Winick, and I am glad that you are still making the films you want to make.

  • Hi Rebecca! We met last night. I am SO glad I ended up going to the screening. The film is exceptionally wonderful and touched me in so many ways. I so related to Maggie. It seems really unfair to me that women have to grapple with this biological clock issue. In my case, the additional pressure of being an artist and wanting to follow those dreams, being single (ugh), and knowing the time to have a baby is now – and running out – It’s so upsetting. I’m constantly second-guessing my decision making, and it feels like the stakes are so high, it’s unbearable. You made such a perfect film, created this seamless, magical world, and elicited gorgeous and hilarious performances from everyone. Both my parents are college professors by the way, so I grew up in that world of academia, and you hit the tone spot-on. So funny! Congratulations/ Mazel Tov on this MoMA award! A woman of vision indeed.

    I also read your blog posts. (You’re a great writer). There was a line in the one about your friend Gary’s birthday, where you say, “I couldn’t stand to wait for permission to tell stories, waste my life waiting for that permission.” That pretty much defines why I left acting after spending my teens and early twenties doing it. I was working all the time back then, and did a ton of stuff, mostly half-hour comedies, dramas as well… I love acting so much, but only when the writing is stimulating and surprising and authentic. Otherwise, waiting for parts to be bestowed upon me, many of which weren’t artistically, spiritually, creatively, or intellectually satisfying, to say the least, became so disempowering, I had to find another way to self-express that was immediate and tangible. I had always been a singer, and it was then that I started to write, record, and perform my songs, ended up with a record deal, and music took me in a different direction and out of that end of the business for many years. It’s been over a decade since I’ve been on a show or in a film. My reel looks like a child actor’s, it’s so ancient. But I very much want to get back out there and do it again. I just want to be on great projects, ones that feel like part of the solution, and not the pollution, if you know what I mean.

    Anyway, next time you are in Los Angeles, please, can we have a coffee, if you have time? I would love to get to know you better, and I would love for you to get to know me well enough to be able to consider considering me for something you might be doing in the future for which I could come read. I would happily go to New York for that, even if it’s a small part! Doesn’t matter! :)

    Thank you again for this very special film, Rebecca! I can’t wait to see/ hear what else you have up your sleeve.

    xo Sara Melson

  • Alan Winick:

    Thank you Rebecca for your thoughtful inclusion of Gary in the credits to Maggie’s Plan. He thought highly of you and your talent. He enjoyed staying in your home in Ireland and spoke of you and Ethan often. He helped many young filmmakers and actors and many remind me of his generosity of time and ideas which he gave them.. . Thanks again.

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