The world of journalism doesn’t rest once the sun goes down. Some would say that a lot of the news, the violence and drama that many love to watch, thrives at nighttime. If there’s an accident taking place nearby at some point past dusk, the nightcrawlers are more than likely one of the first people on the scene, quickly capturing the footage needed to sell it off to local news networks. It’s a rough business but there are plenty out there who make a good living off it.

Writer-director Dan Gilroy takes the cameras out of their hands and puts the focus on this particular group of people in ‘Nightcrawler.’ Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Louis Bloom, a determined soul whose chance meeting with those in the profession perks his interest, immediately bringing him down into this enticing and dangerous environment.

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The filmmaker has spent a vast amount of time immersing himself in this world through research, finding out all he can on this unusual profession which provided to be the premise for this upcoming film. got the opportunity to speak with the filmmaker about the creative process and commentary on the desensitized audience out there that absorbs the graphic imagery brought front and center by daily news.

The battle for news footage goes on in every market, no matter what size. But could this film only have begun in LA because of the scope of the city? Was it just the perfect place for it?

Dan Gilroy: You will find stringers/nightcrawlers in most urban markets in the United States, but Los Angeles predominates because 1) it is such a large market, 2) because it’s such a geographically large area and 3) Los Angeles local stations at 10 o’clock let their union crews go because they don’t want to pay triple time. So these create a void for these freelance people to come in. And another thing is Los Angeles at nighttime can be a violent place. So the salmon run at night in terms of these kind of footage, and there’s people trying to catch it. So it’s all these elements intersect for Los Angeles to be I think the capital for this kind of stuff.

Were you pretty close to the flame to know about nightcrawlers, or have you spent a lot of times in these rooms? Also, when you sat down to write this, what did you want to say? What was your commentary on that?

Dan Gilroy: There’s a number of things I wanted to say. In terms of journalism, I used to be a journalist. I worked at Variety for four years, so back awhile ago I was in New York and I was a reporter and a reviewer. I’ve always been interested in journalism. I moved out here and I heard about this nightcrawling world. I was fascinated by it from a screenwriting standpoint, and then when I started to plug it in to local Los Angeles journalism, which I watch a lot of, I was aware of the sort of pervasive narrative of fear. I wasn’t as aware of what the real narrative is, which is urban crime creeping into the suburbs and trying to get people to be really freaked out by that. So in looking at that, one of the things I was trying to say – and I don’t look at this as a message film, I look at it as an entertaining, hopefully engaging film – but one of the organic things that comes out hopefully is that when people watch it, we don’t try to pass some moral judgement on what you’re looking at.

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We show what happens in local news, but we don’t try to say ultimately that it’s bad. What I’m trying to say is that people at the end of the film might go actually, I watch that news so I’m part of this whole mechanism. I’m the end user of the product, and that doesn’t make me part of a problem, it makes me part of this system. We all at the end of the day might say well, what is it about us that’s attracted to these images? These images are increasingly more prevalent because of the technology brings them more into our lives. And when you log onto your computer in the morning, do you or do you not want to watch the ISIS beheading? Do you or do you not want to watch the latest gory image that’s now popped up on your screen? Do you want to put that into your psyche and your spirit? And that’s just an individual question that I hope people will ask.

Could you talk about Jake (Gyllenhaal) and his weight transformation? What was his motivation to altering himself physically like that?

Dan Gilroy: In the script I imagined that Lou was the equivalent of a nocturnal animal who came out of the hills at night to feed. And Jake, having grown up — this was Jake’s idea to lose the weight, and I thought it was a brilliant one. Incredibly brave. Jake saw him as a coyote, and coyotes, if you ever see them in Los Angeles are perpetually thin. They have this mean look and it always looks like they’re underfed and hungry. Jake came to me and said I want to try and lose weight to really capture the hunger of the character, because Lou is hungry all the time. Not just physically hungry, Lou wants to eat everything.

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Lou wants to eat ideas. He steals ideas. He wants to eat jobs. He wants to eat people. He wants to consume. The watch at the beginning, he acquires things. He takes things from people. He steals ideas, he takes the watch. The coyote takes things. So when Jake started to lose the weight, it was so difficult because once we started shooting he had to keep the weight off. So he was running and biking to the set 15 miles and having a kale salad. I felt there’s an energy that Jake gives off when I watch the film of this electric, weird hunger that the character always has. Every scene that you would see Jake in, he was literally almost starving when he was shooting the scene. He would kill, he was always talking about it. He would watch us eat other things and you can tell he was starving. The character is just always hungry. When you’re hungry you have this weird energy, and Jake had that energy which I felt was crucial for the character. It was such a brave choice on his part to do it. It was just an amazing choice.

So would we be correct in saying that Lou’s fans are his enablers?

Dan Gilroy: I think we all enable Lou to some degree. I think when we go by a magazine stand and we see on the cover of business week that somebody who five years ago raided a retirement fund and just built a 500 foot yacht, and was celebrating their vast 12 billion dollar accomplishment, what does that mean? There are people who are white collared criminals who are doing things, bankrupting countries, and doing things that I think are far worse than what Lou does. Somehow they’re being rewarded and celebrated, and I would just hope that people would be aware that Lou is a very small fish compared to sociopaths who are in positions of great power and running countries. They often run countries.

‘Nightcrawler’ is in theaters everywhere on October 31, 2014.

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