Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Nightcrawler Q&A, by Gretchen Husting

The Oscar-nominated film Nightcrawler is now streaming on Netflix. Dan and John Gilroy came to the Egyptian Theatre in January to discuss the film.

On January 7, the Egyptian screened Nightcrawler (2014) and welcomed twins Dan and John Gilroy.  Dan wrote and directed the movie, John edited. Part of the Cinamateque’s "The Golden Age of Car Chases" series, Jake Gyllenhaal plays Louis Bloom, a petty thief who pulls over to the side of the road to see a bloody crash and becomes obsessed with filming violent crimes and accidents. He sells his work to local Los Angeles news stations; Rene Russo plays a washed-up producer who competes for his footage.  

John Gilroy said of Gyllenhaal’s performance, “He did not change a word.  It was like a play.” Of working with his twin brother, John said, “I try not to butt in but I have an opinion about everything.”

The floor opened up for questions, and one audience member asked the director, “How did you choose your leading lady, and was that character influenced by Faye Dunaway in Network?” Dan answered, “I’m married to her, she’s my wife... I wrote it for her.” 

During the discussion, Dan spoke about writing the script. He left out an implied sex scene and said, “People don’t want to be hit over the head with everything.” 

Riz Ahmed play’s Rick, Lou Bloom’s sidekick. While the character Rick is barely able to read, Ahmed graduated with a double major from Oxford. Dan Gilroy said that that character does represent a problem in today’s society: a lack of funding for education in the country’s capitalistic system. Lou Bloom initially offers Rick an “internship.” Dan  spoke about the exploitation of young people trying to make it in today’s world and that when capitalism becomes a religion, “it’s a horrible thing.”

Another audience member asked about location filming Los Angeles, an increasing rarity in the industry. Gilroy explained that, unfortunately, his crew was one of the few to get a tax break that year. He also said that they chose areas where the streets meet the mountains and the water - they wanted to show that sprawling aspect of the city and avoid touristy areas. They kept the camera in the car for chase scenes.  

Another question was regarding the consistently hilarious “lingo or jargon” that Lou Bloom uses. “I read human resource manuals,” was the answer.  

Next question, “I recognize real newscasters.  Is this an indictment?” Dan Gilroy laughed, “I can’t believe it. They let me use their newsroom.  It made me wonder if they read the script.”  Explaining that there was a time when news didn’t make a profit, Gilroy said news becomes entertainment. 

Regarding writing a spec script verses a studio movie, he said Lou Bloom was the same throughout the story. “I was breaking every rule. There’s no arc. People are people.”  

His recommendation, “If you have something to say in your movie, say it.” That credo paid off; Nightcrawler was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.