U.K. filmmaker partnered with Mike Leigh
LONDON — British film producer Simon Channing Williams has died of cancer at the age of 63.Channing Williams, who enjoyed a particularly fruitful relationship with Mike Leigh and produced 11 of the director’s films through their shingle Thin Man Films, died Saturday in Cornwall, England. Although Channing Williams had been unwell for some time, he and Leigh were working on the director’s latest untitled project. Their final completed project together, “Happy-Go-Lucky,” won thesp Sally Hawkins the best actor prize at last year’s Berlin Film Festival. “Simon’s heart was as massive as his famous physical bulk,” wrote Leigh in the Guardian newspaper. “So was his charming, jovial, impish sense of humor. He was a natural born producer — a great leader, always an enabler, a protector, never a dictator or an interferer.” Outside of the Leigh-Thin Man collaborations, Channing Williams also produced a number of other films, including Nick Love’s “Goodbye Charlie Bright” and Tim Sullivan’s “Jack and Sarah.” In 2000, he launched indie shingle Potboiler Productions with Gail Egan. Together they produced seven features, including Fernando Meirelles’ “The Constant Gardener” and Douglas McGrath’s “Nicholas Nickleby.” The two also exec produced Meirelles’ “Blindness.” In March this year, Potboiler acquired Andrea Calderwood’s Slate Films. It is believed that Calderwood and Egan will continue to oversee Potboiler’s development slate, which includes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade’s John le Carre adaptation “The Mission Song,” Victorian drama “Effie,” helmer Gabriel Range’s “Slave,” Dan Mazer laffer “Stiff” and Biyi Bandele’s adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s best-seller “Half of a Yellow Sun.” Potboiler has also acquired the rights to Le Carre’s “A Most Wanted Man.” Channing Williams was also particularly active with his charitable works. He set up The Constant Gardener Trust to work specifically with the Kenyan communities of Loiyangalani and Kiberia. The org is building a secondary school in Loiyangalani, which is set to be completed by the end of this year. Channing Williams received Kenya’s Order of the Grand Warrior from the country’s president Kibaki in December 2007 in honor of his humanitarian works. He is survived by his wife Anne, five children and five grandchildren.