Susan Leber

Veteran of N.Y. indie trenches plots next move

Susan Leber relishes multitasking. She is posting “The Roost,” a horror film exec produced by Larry Fessenden (“Wendigo”), prepping Alexandra Brodsky’s indie family drama “Bittersweet Pl” and planning a host of projects with new blood and indie stalwarts to keep her busy through the end of the year and into the next.

“I’ve overbooked,” she admits. “I live like a college student.”

A staple of the no-budget Gotham scene, Leber first got her producer’s feet wet as an intern and then associate producer for Hal Harley’s True Fiction Pictures.

While working at Antidote Films under Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Mary Jane Skalski, she put together Scott Saunders’ Sundance 2003 pic “The Technical Writer.” It was her third Sundance entry after Ilya Chaiken’s “Margarita Happy Hour” and Debra Granik’s “Down to the Bone,” which won directing and acting honors in 2004. The film will premiere internationally at Locarno.

“Susan is fearless,” Skalski says. “Obstacles that would overwhelm most of us don’t even faze her. So when she finds something she loves, she jumps in and never wavers, no matter how tough the going gets.”

On “Margarita Happy Hour,” for example, Leber went into production with just $35,000. “We were dying every day, crying at the end of every night, but that passion of you’re somehow going to make it happen when it makes absolutely no sense,” she says, “it’s something I’m proud of.”

Hands-on, first-timer-friendly and largely working without a production staff, Leber says she loves the small tight-knit family of low-budget New York shoots. “That said,” she adds, lest the industry think she’s planning to stay in the indie trenches forever, “in future projects I am making some higher-budget films and working with name talent.”

Still, her top priority, she maintains, “is to work with people I like and trust.”

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