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.