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David R. Ellis, former stuntman turned director, has died at the age of 60. While the circumstances of his death are currently unknown, the filmmaker was down in South Africa getting ready to direct his next feature, a live-action adaptation of the Japanese anime KITE with Samuel L. Jackson, at the time of his passing.
Ellis' career in Hollywood began in the mid-70s when he worked in the stunt department of many major films, including Smokey and the Bandit, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and Lethal Weapon. His career progressed in the 80s when he began to work as a second unit director - which he continued to do even after he started making his own features. Over the course of his career he worked with directors like Phillip Noyce (Clear and Present Danger), and Barry Levinson (Sphere) and was credited for major blockbusters like The Matrix Reloaded, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.
At the age of 44 he got his first chance to helm a project of his own with the sequel Homeward Bound 2: Lost in San Francisco, and from there he began directing his own features. In his career he contributed two films to the Final Destination franchise as well as the viral hit Snakes on a Plane, the 2004 thriller Cellular and 2008's horror/sci-fi blend Asylum. He most recently directed Shark Night 3D in 2011.
Sadly 60 is far too young for anybody to go, and everyone here at Cinema Blend extends our well wishes and thoughts to Ellis' family and friends in this hard time.