It is with a heavy heart that I pass along the news that Shawn Felty or “Felt” as we were wont to call him on set passed away this afternoon, after a long struggle with colon cancer. While it seems all too clichéd to describe someone’s battle as “courageous,” in Shawn’s case it certainly seemed apt, as he never stopped remaining positive, never fell into self-pity or victimhood, even when his illness was at its worst (the title of his blog “All It Takes Is Guts” speaks volumes).
From our first meeting on the night before we were to shoot “Schlimmer,” Tohubohu’s inaugural entry in the 48 Hour Film Project Shawn showed himself to be not only talented, but creative and extraordinarily dedicated to his work. Following quickly with his starring turn in “Screening Process,” he cemented his position as a regular in front of the camera, appearing in nine of the thirteen short films we’ve produced. But his contribution never stopped there: We rapidly came to depend on his assistance in the postproduction arena, where he would jump in on everything from researching to organizing to editing (earning him the official title “Switch Hitter” on the Tohubohu board). When his health wouldn’t permit him to take a more active role, he would help in any way he could on “Number One With a Bullet,” he took a turn helping coordinate the auditioning process, a task that he leapt into without a moment’s hesitation. And then, when his health improved, he was right back in the thick of things with “All Roads Lead Away” and “Please Forward.”
But more than all of that, Shawn was a good and valued friend. He never ceased to make the often arduous process of filmmaking a fun experience for everyone involved. His upbeat attitude, positive outlook and unbridled enthusiasm were truly unparalleled, and he routinely made friends everywhere he went; seventy people came by to see him in the hospital yesterday. And while I consider myself fortunate that I was able to be one of those visitors (where despite his weakness, his infectious smile was as wide as ever), that small feeling is overshadowed by the larger recognition of the tremendous impact he has had and will continue to have on my life. The world is measurably poorer for his passing.
Thanks, Shawn, for leaving the world a little brighter than it was before you entered.
Service arrangements are still being made, but Shawn’s family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the American Cancer Society Colorectal Cancer.