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).