While all of Hollywood was busy celebrating the Oscars last night (or still talking about James Franco in drag, an image most of us would like to forget), some sad news hit Twitter: Filmmaker Gary Winick passed away at the too-young age of 49.

Cinetic's Matt Dentler broke the news, stating, "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." Winick would have turned 50 next month.

Best known for his work on films like 'Charlotte's Web,' 'Letters to Juliet' and '13 Going on 30', Winick's real legacy is something much greater than those films. The filmmaker will long be remembered by serious film fans for his efforts in spearheading the digital film revolution. Winick was one of the founders of InDigEnt, short for Independent Digital Entertainment, an organization that encouraged indie filmmakers to shoot their films on digital cameras and for under $100,000.

Modeled after the Dogme 95 movement, InDigEnt tapped into New York's indie film community (a scene Winick was intimately familiar with after spending a decade teaching at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts) to show the world that films didn't need multimillion-dollar budgets, and that the fledgling digital format was one worth embracing. InDigEnt and Winick produced 19 films between 2001 and 2007, including Richard Linklater's 'Tape,' Peter Hedges' 'Pieces of April' and Steve Buscemi's 'Lonesome Jim.' He also gave a forum to young filmmakers like Rodrigo Garcia and Rebecca Miller.

Details surrounding Gary Winick's untimely passing are still scarce, but one thing is clear: The indie film scene has lost an important piece of its history and one of its greatest champions.

[via IFC]