At the age of six, Phil Leirness was starting to write short stories. By the age of nine, he was acting in plays and musicals. By the time he graduated from high school, he was already a published film critic, a stand-up comic and a television host (in his native San Francisco Bay Area). After moving to Los Angeles, Leirness continued to perform stand-up comedy (at such famous clubs as the Comedy Store on Hollywood's Sunset Strip). It was upon seeing the Wim Wenders masterpiece _Wings of Desire (1987)_ in 1988 that he knew he had to become a filmmaker.
While attending the UCLA Film School, Leirness co-produced (along with current vice-president of drama series for Touchstone Television, Channing Dungey), wrote, directed and starred in an award-winning thesis film, "Through Nights That Never End" (the film also starred Merrin Dungey, Suli McCullough and Leirness' mentor at the time, Alexander Payne, the future Oscar-winning director of Sideways (2004)). Following film school, Leirness made several educational and training films before making his feature film debut as a writer-director with _'Til Death Do Us Part (1995/I)_ . A low-budget romantic comedy focusing on a love triangle, the film was released internationally by Solomon International Enterprises.
Leirness produced and directed an industrial film and several commercials before writing, producing, directing and acting in _The Party Crashers (1998)_ . This dark comedy about a Hollywood party held hostage, which Daily Variety called "Slyly amusing ... good-looking, technically resourceful, attractively cast and assuredly paced," played numerous film festivals around the world and was distributed internationally by Cinema Arts Entertainment. In the U.S., the film received a limited theatrical release in July of 2001. The film was released on DVD/VHS through Pathfinder Pictures in October of 2002.
His third feature film, a modern-day, English-language remake of _The Story of O (1975)_ that he directed and co-wrote has been receiving major releases throughout the world. _The Story of O: Untold Pleasures (2002)_ is slated for a theatrical release in the U.S. through Pathfinder Pictures later this year.
While serving as head of development and acquisitions for Shadowland, the feature film division of Pasadena-based GOAL Productions he helped form, Leirness developed and directed Spectres (2004), a science-fiction ghost story from an original screenplay by Bud Robertson. Called one of the year's "most impressive independent movies" by Sci-Fi Online, Spectres (2004) was completed in January 2004. After playing numerous festivals around the world the film became a Lifetime Movie Network premiere in the U.S. (under the alternate title "Soul Survivor") and was released on DVD through Universal and Xenon Pictures. The Cinequest Film Festival declared, "Phil Leirness' Spectres (2004) displays his unique talent for drawing complex characters balanced with stylish, entertaining cinema."
In addition to directing feature films, Leirness has directed almost forty behind-the-scenes documentary short subjects examining the making of various feature films. Two of these, a look at director Tim Blake Nelson's holocaust drama _The Grey Zone (2001)_ and Grounded: The Making of _Air Panic (2001)_ , have won numerous awards. He has also directed stage shows at the Acme Comedy Theatre in Los Angeles and for the prestigious CAPPIES program.
Currently, Leirness is developing several feature film projects, including "Illumination" about real-life inventor Royal Raymond Rife, who developed a cure for cancer in the 1930s (Leirness co-wrote the script with Dean Haglund and will be co-producing and directing), and "Hosoi" about legendary skateboarding star Christian Hosoi (Leirness co-wrote the screenplay and will direct). He is also serving as Director of Photography on "Karl Rove, I Love You", a satirical documentary being directed by Dan Butler.
In August of 2005, Leirness continued his long-standing affiliation with Cinema Arts Entertainment, becoming the Managing Director of the international production and distribution company's U.S. office.