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BLOG : ‘Nightcrawler’ - The Complete Package


The complete package - when a film works harmoniously and effortlessly.

‘Nightcrawler’ (2014) - Thriller, Crime, (part Satire). Written and Directed by Dan Gilroy, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, ‘Nightcrawler’ is a story about a driven, clever and polite young sociopath ‘Louis Bloom’ who starts a career in night-time crime video journalism and become a stand-out competition-annihilating success.

Trailer

The Los Angeles Times - Kenneth Turan

‘...it is melodrama grounded in a disturbing reality, an extreme scenario that is troubling because it cuts close to the bone.’.

I found this film at the right time… I was in a bit of a ‘funk’. My latest short film wasn’t everything I hoped it to be. Watching ‘Nightcrawler’ helped reignite my creative journey.

The Script

Empire Magazine - Dan Jolin

‘Behind all this is screenwriter Dan Not only is it a cracking script — a character-driven thriller relying on psychological manipulations over plot twists’

This film is an incredible example of how everything starts with the script. It's a wonderful execution of balance. The script is the start of my process so seeing this film was a stark reminder of writing and directing that became muddled in my own filmmakers journey. For example...various online script writing ‘rules’ have clear advice for the central character in the first 10 pages of a screenplay. For example - ‘Bang2Write’ website states;

‘But whatever happens, the reader needs to know what your characters want and why within the first ten pages’.

Lou’s very first line is “I’m lost”. He’s lying to a security guard who’s caught him stealing rail materials, when in reality, it's actually a statement to the audience about who Lou he is.

Within 5 minutes, talking to a scrap yard owner (selling stolen items), Lou takes the opportunity to pitch for work and in doing so he reveals his story-goal to the audience:

“I’m looking for a Job. In fact, I’ve made up my mind to find a career I can learn and grow into. Who am I? I’m a hard-worker, I set high goals and I’ve been told I’m persistent”.

This completely demonstrates what Louis Bloom wants and how he will go about it, not overstated or mechanical, just pure character.

Dan Gilroy’s writing also creates empathy for his anti-hero, so that we follow him to the very end using both traditional rules and breaking them.

Night time and character of the night...

The Guardian - Henry Barns

Nightcrawler is a nasty, funny film. A tribute to the vile and a celebration of the dark.

I find there’s something magical about the inventions humans have created to survive, entertain and live at nighttime. (I’ve realise whilst writing this that my last three short films have been set at night)...

The Director and the DP - Robert Elswits - paint an L.A. murky ‘underworld’ visceral and real. Yet , for all of its subject matter ‘Nightcrawler’ is fast paced, intense and kinetic.The music score is upbeat and there is a sense of satire present throughout the movie.

Jake Gyllenhaal lost 25 pounds of weight and was constantly starving himself to give him the look and physicality of a ‘Coyote’ - an animal that is constantly hungry.

This, in addition to the night-time shoots, provided his performance with a ‘thing of the night’ presence and reinforced Lou’s ‘hunger’ for success. Yet, his character is polite, charming at times, but also exceptionally manipulative - he speaks like he’s a salesperson, almost always in slogans or cliche corporate positive mantras like;

“My motto is if you want to win the lottery you've got to make money to get a ticket”.

These are the types of characters I find most interesting and love creating... the individuals, the ones who are separate, unique...

Theme

Living in London and having work both in the private and public sectors, corporate power culture and its impact on human identity strikes very deep within me, and ‘Nightcrawler’ pulls no punches showing this culture through Lou Bloom as opposed to simply demonising Bloom himself.

According to the Director Dan Gilroy, Louis is a product of society. The film doesn't make a moralistic judgement about him, nor his job, but rather our world itself:

“I believe that people like Lou are increasingly rewarded for what ​​they do. I feel that in today’s world

you will often find people with some sociopathic tendencies who are succeeding on a corporate level. I feel that the world is increasingly about the bottom line,...Lou understands that the world is about the bottom line. And accepts it! He has no family, and no connection to anything. It allows him to thrive, and to fully embrace the uber-capitalist concept, the ultimate hyper-free market. Which I feel is increasingly the world that we live in”.

The way the film achieves this, is inspiring as themes play a major part in my work. Creating a clear theme that makes a film intriguing and engaging rather than overstating, its a marvelous example.

This film is the complete package - I love it as an audience member, but especially as a writer director. Its inspired me to find ways to make my work better.


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