In August of 1997, working from his original screenplay Matthew began shooting his first feature film, the black comedy Road Kill. The film was produced on a $180,000 budget. The story revolves around a failing Los Angeles film student, Alex (Erik Palladino), obsessed with Hong Kong-style action films. With his diploma on the line, Alex must find a subject for his documentary thesis film. His prayers are answered when he runs into Blue (Jennifer Rubin), the retiring "Hit Woman" who has recently moved into his apartment building. Later, Alex convinces her to let him drive across country with her for her final "Hit" in Miami.
The Daily Variety called Road Kill "A breezy entertaining ride... A jaunty trip with a good balance of dark comedy and legitimate drama." The San Francisco Metropolitan called it "Clever" and the Santa Barbara Film Festival Program Guide touted it as "Riveting." Road Kill made its World Premiere March 11, 13, and 14, 1999 at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival where it played to sold-out crowds and won the Audience Choice Award for best feature film. The film has since won the Audience Choice Award at the 1999 FilmFest New Haven and screened at festivals around the world (incl. runner-up at the Oldenburg International Film Festival). Trident Releasing has purchased the film for foreign distribution. After the resolution of a legal matter the film was finally slated for release in the U.S. on home video by Blockbuster for early 2001.
After principal photography ended on Road Kill, Leutwyler moved back to his home town of San Francisco to begin post-production. While editing during the day, he and co-writer Peter Rudy wrote the screenplay for the feature film This Space Between Us at night and on weekends. The semi-autobiographical romantic comedy, loosely based on the characters in his award winning short, is about a once up-and-coming filmmaker who's still saddled with grief over the death of his wife. The film's ensemble cast includes Jeremy Sisto (Suicide Kings, The 60's, Clueless, "Jesus"), Alex Kingston ("ER", Croupier), Poppy Montgomery (Dead Man On Campus, "The Beat", "Blonde"), Vanessa Marcil (The Rock, "BH 90210"), Erik Palladino (U-571, Road Kill, "ER"), Garry Marshall (Pretty Woman, The Runaway Bride), Vincent Ventresca (Romy & Michelle's High School Reunion, "Boston Common", "The Invisible Man"). Leutwyler also added the role of producer to his credits in addition to directing, editing, and co-writing the feature. This Space Between Us made its World Premiere at the 25th Seattle International Film Festival in May 1999 as a work-in-progress. The film screened in its final form January 6, 2000, opening the San Francisco Indie Fest to a sold-out crowd of over 600 This Space... won the Moxie! Award for best comedy at the 2000 Santa Monica Film Festival. The film has recently been picked up by Phaedra Cinema for release in June, 2001.
The Daily Variety wrote: "Moving gracefully from comedy to drama and back again, This Space Between Us has a sexy, freewheeling spirit... Pathos and Hollywood satire mix surprisingly well, with Space taking on more shape and meaning as it goes along."
The San Francisco Bay Guardian called it "A taughtly directed comedy."
Leutwyler has recently relocated to Los Angeles, after directing three episodes of the MTV series "Undressed" last year. His next screenplay is a thriller set in New York city about a female molecular-anthropologist in search of her missing brother, which he likens to The Firm. He also recently completed, a comedy about rival sorority sisters at a prestigious college which he describes as Election meets Animal House.