December 19, 1965
Norfolk, Virginia, United States
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Gary Fleder made a smooth transition first from student films to television and then to features. His student short "Terminal Round," a 8-minute look into boxing, appeared at the Mill Valley (California) Film Festival in 1988 and his USC thesis project "Air Time" (1991) opened eyes to his talent at the 1992 Sundance Festival. A 48-minute thriller written by pal Scott Rosenberg, "Air Time" related the story of an ex-con threatening a late-night radio-talk-show psychologist. He returned to the world of boxing when he helmed "Animal Instinct" (1992), a 30-minute documentary detailing three years in the life of Brooklyn boxer Philip Paolina. Fleder cut his commercial teeth directing two episodes of HBO's popular "Tales From the Crypt" series ("Seance" 1992; "Forever Ambergris" 1993), both written by Rosenberg.Fleder's rapid progress continued at the helm of the USA Network's sci-fi movie "The Companion" (1994), which centered on the tumultuous relationship between a successful romance novelist and her android companion. He then made his feature directing debut with Rosenberg's darkly comic "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead" (1995). On the strength of the latter, Fleder signed a two-year, first-look development deal with New Line Cinema in April 1997. His second film, the dark, moody thriller "Kiss the Girls" (1997), followed in the footsteps of "Seven" and "Silence of the Lambs," but patterned much of its visual style after 70s movies like "The Exorcist" and "Klute." (Both "Klute" and "Kiss the Girls" employed the anamorphic format with its short depth of field and distorted optical image, which lends itself to thrillers, heightening the sense of being off-kilter).