A 1984 graduate of Tufts University, Gary Winick quickly moved into filmmaking as a full-time vocation, placing a stronger emphasis on producing than on directing. He earned M.F.A. degrees from both the American Film Institute and the University of Texas at Austin, then jump-started his career by helming and producing low-budget, direct-to-video efforts for such houses as Roger Corman's New World Pictures and Concrete -- including the 1998 Curfew and the 1990 Out of the Rain. These projects drew little attention, but Winick's fortunes started to shift with the 1996 Sweet Nothing -- an appropriately grueling parable about drug addiction that featured an early Michael Imperioli and Mira Sorvino, which netted favorable remarks from such respected critics as Roger Ebert and Barbara Shulgasser. Winick unveiled his genre versatility by teaming up with writer/star Polly Draper (thirtysomething) and Gregory Hines to direct the family-themed ensemble drama The Tic Code, starring Gregory Hines; while the film was produced in 1998, it wasn't released until two years later.
Alongside his directing career, Winick also made impressive advances on a business end, founding an all-digital production company in 1999, InDigEnt. With the digital format substantially driving the cost of filmmaking down, Winick was able to turn out offbeat, profitable indie films right and left with a who's who of stars -- such an extensive list of films, in fact, that his resumé over the following decade reads like a laundry list of important American independent features. Personal Velocity: Three Portraits (2001), Eric Bogosian: Wake Up and Smell the Coffee (2001), Pieces of April (2003), and Starting Out in the Evening (2007), to name only a few, all bore Winick's producing credit.