Lights. Camera. Action!
Oh, movies…and the joy, fear, and overall, impact they can have an audience. From the acting, directing , and storytelling, a film has many meanings for a viewer. Sometimes, those meanings are even inspirational.
But that nostalgia does not always necessary last throughout every stage of making a film.
Filmmaking is not always the glitz and glam though. Sometimes, we often forget the amount of time, hours, and effort is put into making a film. It truly does take a team to take a script to the screen.
In this case, the big screen for the 2014 feature film, Nightcrawler, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, and Riz Ahmed. Directed by first-timer, Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler, is a story about an aspiring crime-scene news reporter, Louis Bloom, who will go to great lengths to capture the juiciest and, in most cases, goriest breaking news.
Perhaps, Louis is someone whom we can relate to in the sense of pursuing something with full force and never stopping until we achieve it; however, Louis will make sure that nobody stands in his way along the process of achieving success.
Or, in his words, “Winning the lottery.”
Check out this list of fifteen behind-the-scenes gossip, secrets, and big reveals:
15. Weight Loss
For his transformation into the now notorious news reporter character of Louis Bloom, Gyllenhaal thought it was best to shed 20-30 pounds. A lot had to do with the restless and borderline sociopath nature of Bloom, which even forced Gyllenhaal into his own state of neurotic behavior. The film’s director, Dan Gilroy, had even stated that Gyllenhaal rode his bicycle to set every day, riding anywhere from 10-15 miles from his hotel. Not to mention that Gyllenhaal’s workouts lasted up to eight hours. Eight…Hours…
Perhaps, this is one of the longest workouts ever heard of. At least for an actor prepping to immerse into a character role. Accordingly, the only thing Gilroy ever saw him eat was a kale salad on lunch break. Not even the full meal either; just nibbles of it. Most people would be exhausted, but for Gyllenhaal…it was the complete opposite. In fact, he enjoyed the intensity of becoming Louis Bloom.
14. Lou’s Apartment Scenes
Due to a short time span to shoot, as well as having a low budget, all of Louis Bloom’s apartment scenes were shot in one day. Something that is uncommon in the process of filmmaking. Usually, multiple scenes occurring in one location would take a few days to film due to camera setups, as well as a director capturing the usable take of an actor’s performance that they want. But Gilroy preferred to let the cameras roll and capture Gyllenhaal in the heat of the moment. A more natural effect, sort of like improv where an actor has an opportunity to just go with it, creating their own blocking and dialogue for a scene. You may even wonder why certain elements to Lou’s apartment scenes seem…off script. Most of them are.
13. 44 Stitches
Remember that famous mirror bashing scene, where Louis Bloom starts yelling at himself?
Yeah, that was one of the infamous unscripted moments from the film. You know, part of Gyllenhaal’s method acting—caught up in the heat of a moment.
Perhaps filming long hours and cramming multiple scenes in X-amount of time has its downfalls too. It was about seventeen hours into filming on the day of covering all of Louis Bloom’s apartment scenes when Gyllenhaal started shooting the bathroom scene. Gyllenhaal was far long into the psyche of Bloom when he had punched and then knocked over the mirror with his hands, almost slicing off his thumb from the glass. He ended up in the hospital with forty-four stitches, saving his thumb. Approximately seven hours later, he went to set after being released from ER and resumed to filming with his crew.
12. The Extremist
In addition to overworking out and nearly starving to death, Gyllenhaal was said to have gone “crazy” during the filmmaking of Nightcrawler. At least diving into the mindset of Louis Bloom. He did everything he could in order to stay in character from blinking rarely during the shoot, a similar acting technique he used for the cult classic, Donnie Darko. Supposedly doing this was a way for him to make his character, both Darko and Bloom, appear more alert and unstable. Cast and crew had often stated that Gyllenhaal was never tired and, instead, had this energy to him 24/7. It had usually tripped out his costars, who had often felt the heat and burn of working long hours for each of the shoots. Gyllenhaal and fellow castmate, Riz Ahmed, even rode with real “nightcrawlers” around Los Angeles to prepare for their roles.
11. Eighty Locations
Talk about a time crunch! Gilroy had stated in an interview with Empire that shooting in eighty-one locations in twenty-eight days, under a ten million dollar budget, was tough. Believe it or not, but ten million is not a whole lot; especially for a film shoot in Los Angeles. If anything, it is practically pennies in the filmmaking biz. An average film’s budget ranges anywhere from $65 to $100 million. After all with Marvel and DC films now filtering out more than ever, a film’s budget is now escalating into the $200 million range. Nightcrawler is considered an independent film due to its low budget. This meant longer set hours for both cast and crew, as well as staying on top of everything from lines, set-up and set-down for cameras and location moves. Gilroy has stated that Gyllenhaal’s collaboration, such as making suggestions, was what had helped them through the filmmaking.
10. Bill Paxton
Supporting character, Joe Loder, was certainly a significant role to the film. After all, he was the driving force for Louis Bloom’s obsession to success. An arch nemesis, who probably turned out to be more of a “saint” by the end of the film when Bloom’s true colors slowly evolve. Actor, Bill Paxton, who portrays Loder had stated that working on the film was fun, but interesting. Paxton has said that his scenes with Gyllenhaal was a different experience due to his intensity during the shoot. He was one of the many costars who was amazed by Gyllenhaal being so alert, regardless of their long work hours and filming take after take. In fact, Gyllenhaal often made Paxton break character and laugh during takes, but not intentionally–he just tripped him out.
9. “My motto is if you want to win the lottery you’ve got to make money to get a ticket.”
This is probably the most popular piece of dialogue from the script and movie itself. Gilroy has even said that it is Gyllenhaal’s favorite. You have probably seen one of the many thousands of memes with this quote. He was so fascinated with the line that he had approached Gilroy after a shoot one day and asked if they could film him saying the line in a different location. If you recall–those of you who have seen the movie–Louis says this line in the beginning, as he speaks with the manager of the scrapyard. Gyllenhaal’s wish came true when Gilroy got the shot of Louis speaking in the newsroom at work. Originally, the scene was supposed to take place elsewhere. But with Gyllenhaal speaking directly into the camera—to us—it leaves an audience with an eerie feeling. By this point into the story, we realize how the character of Louis Bloom will prevent anything from standing in his way.
8. Married to Rene Russo
And who is the mother of the network, Nina Romina–as stated in the screenplay itself–played by?
Answer: Rene Russo, who is married to the film’s writer and director, Dan Gilroy.
The couple met on the set of Freejack in 1992 and have been married since. Together, they have one daughter, Rose Gilroy, who works in the business herself as a model.
During press tour for the film, Rene has expressed her gratitude and, overall, love for Dan. She was even captured on camera during one of Dan’s award wins, nearly in tears and saying, “I’m so happy.”
The same goes for Dan, who has stated in multiple interviews that being married to an actress has helped him greatly. From working with actors and getting out their best performance for a role, as well as his transition working behind the scenes as just a screenwriter to becoming the captain of a ship.
7. Jake’s Man Bun
This one is a random fun fact; but prior to film production, Gilroy had advised Gyllenhaal to trim his hair–Jake had longer locks from his previous film shoot, “Enemy.” However, as production start date got closer, Gyllenhaal changed his mind. He had approached Gilroy with an idea of his character, Louis, having long hair and as the film progressed, he would wear it up in a bun. AKA a “man’s bun.” Gyllenhaal thought by having his hair tied up in certain scenes was an indicator of illustrating Louis in moments of distress, such as the scenes where he is breaking into strangers’ homes. In reality, who would not be scared of getting caught?
This may appear to be a small element to the film itself, but in fact makes a difference for a detail to a character’s motive and, overall, getting a chance to see someone as twisted as Louis dealing or even avoiding stress and fear.
6. Omitted Sex Scene
Gilroy had actually received some backlash when it came to the sexual tension among Russo and Gyllenhaal’s characters, Louis and Nina. Some movie-goers were confused if the two characters were ever an “item,” AKAa couple or straight up friends with benefits. Remember Louis’ famous (or maybe infamous for most) line to Nina about not needing any more friends in his life?
Well, if you do remember—spoiler alert—Louis is, in fact, threatening Nina rather than turning on the charm. It is just, overall, an unsettling and creepy moment.
Gilroy explains in his interview with Empire that he had cut out a sex scene between the characters, feeling that showing less is always the way to go. Especially when it leaves a tense moment between two characters, which Gilroy had achieved with the couple/friend-with-benefits/who knows what had happened between them. Like Alfred Hitchcock once said, “Always keep the audience wanting more.”
5. Best Screenplay and First Feature
In 2015, the film had nabbed five nominations at the Film Independent Spirit Awards, including for ‘Best Male Lead,’ ‘Best Supporting Male,’ and ‘Best Editing.’ Writer and director, Dan Gilroy, won the ‘Best Screenplay’ category. The film also took home the ‘Best First Feature.’
For those of you who do not know what the Spirit Awards are: basically the Oscars for low budget films made under $10 million.
As soon as Gilroy’s name was called out during the ‘Best Screenplay’ category, he had received a standing ovation. Even his wife, Rene, cried tears of joy for him.
Gilroy had expressed his appreciation for the award during his acceptance speech, stating that the win was a high point for him. It was only a few years before when he felt his career was at a low point.
4. Jake Knew the Script Front and Back
With a winning script, it is no surprise that a lot of the cast and crew respect the craft. Gyllenhaal was said to have memorized Gilroy’s screenplay as if it was written for the theater stage. He was often overheard by his costars and the crew going through Bloom’s monologues in-between takes, as well as recited them frequently to Gilroy. If you read the script, you will notice its structure and format; written as if everything happens in real life time. Almost like one continuous take, as seen in other award winning film that same year, Birdman, where the writing and camera never seems to have a cut. Unlike a standard Hollywood screenplay, Gilroy’s script consists of zero scene headings, not stating the exact time of day and location.
The introduction for Louis Bloom is one of the most interesting descriptions. Gilroy states that Louis is someone who would be bobbing his head to any tune.
3. The Date Scene
L.A. freeways. Traffic. Car chases. Fights. Explosions.
The longest scene to shoot were neither of these.
In fact, it was the dinner date scene between Louis and Nina. Gilroy has stated in interviews that he wanted to keep rolling the cameras for this particular scene to show the true nature of the two characters. Nina first comes off as aggressive, independent, strong-willed, and in-control; whereas, Louis is first introduced as a loner, persistent but quiet. However, after watching the date scene, you will realize to never judge a book by its cover.
In the end, the two are hiding their true identities.
Nina is someone who is truly vulnerable; whereas, Louis has zero remorse for anyone he comes into contact with. Notice how terrified and unsettled Nina looks by the end of the scene, especially after Louis takes control and makes his creepy proposition of where their “relationship” will be headed.
2. Oscar Nomination
With over a hundred nominations and forty-two wins for both the cast and crew, Nightcrawler landed one Oscar nomination in 2015. Gilroy was up for ‘Best Writing, Original Screenplay’ at the 82nd Academy Awards.
Although Gilroy lost out to the writing team of another great hit, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), the nomination had opened up more doors for him, including a bigger fan base. Most fans were even upset and believed that Gyllenhaal was snubbed for a ‘Best Actor’ nomination, as well as the film itself for ‘Best Picture.’
However, the award snubs has never affected the film or labeled it as a “bad” project. Like Gilroy had expressed frequently throughout the film’s press release, he felt that Nightcrawler had already won. Getting the film made, released, and receiving positive attention worldwide was the best outcome that any writer and filmmaker could ask for. Something Gilroy seems to never forget.
1. Directorial Debut
Gilroy has an impressive resume in the field. He has started out as a screenwriter in the entertainment business, his first screenplay being Freejack. Nightcrawler is his eighth project as a screenwriter and his directorial debut. Some of his other credits as writer include Chasers, Two for the Money, The Fall, Real Steel, The Bourne Legacy, and the upcoming Kong: Skull Island, Stan Lee’s Annihilator, and Battle for Bonneville.
His second directorial feature, Inner City, which he also wrote, is currently in production. The film is potentially to star Denzel Washington, who has expressed great interest in the leading role. Although the plot is kept under wraps, fans can only anticipate what kind of world Gilroy will take his audience through—most likely something twisted.
But hey, nobody is complaining! Let’s hope his forthcoming directorial feature comes out sooner than later. I know I will be one of the first in line to see it.