Seth Winston, Oscar Winner and AFI Lecturer, Dies at 64

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Seth Winston, an Academy Award winner and long-time senior lecturer with American Film Institute’s Conservatory Studies, died suddenly at his home in Woodland Hills on June 5. He was 64.

Winston received an Oscar for live-action short in 1991 for writing and directing Showtime’s “Session Man.” He also taught at the Columbia College Hollywood, USC School of Cinematic Arts, UC Santa Barbara and UCLA Extension.

The Philadelphia native grew up in Los Angeles and was a resident of Woodland Hills. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in cinema production from the USC School of Cinema. He wrote and directed two films at USC — “Allegory” and “An Evening with the Gods,” which was seen by CBS executives, who then hired Winston to write a TV comedy pilot based on the film.

Winston was accepted to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ director internship program at AFI and was selected by Steven Spielberg to intern on “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” He wrote three network movies for television, then turned to writing feature films. Credits include “She’s Out of Control,” “Game Day,” “Get You Back,” “Gardening at Night,” “Final Tour” and “The Common Cold.”

“Seth Winston has been a faculty member and a friend of AFI’s for over 15 years and through that time he has greatly impacted so many filmmakers,” said Jan Schuette, dean of the AFI Conservatory. “The community here deeply feels his absence, but know that Seth worked for all of us, AFI and the filmmakers, to always be better. He was a beloved member of the faculty and will be missed by all.”

Winston was a member of AMPAS and the Writers Guild of America.

He is survived by his children, Alexandra and Dashiell; their mother, Susan; and a brother, Clive.

To honor his work, the Winston family has created The Seth Winston Scholarship Fund at AFI. Contributions may be sent to American Film Institute Advancement Office, Seth Winston Scholarship Fund, 2021 North Western Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90027.


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  1. Todd Dale says:

    Seth was a friend of mine; always enjoyed our dinner and drinks at Dan Tana’s in West Hollywood. my thoughts and prayers go out the children.

    • Shaun says:

      Seth was my professor more than 10 years ago and a friend. Many great nights of drinks and discussions. He was an eccentric, no bullshit guy.

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