Lou uses his resources (and sometimes those of others) to purchase a small handi-cam and police scanner and he starts showing up at the same scenes that Loder and his Mayhem crew do. The difference is that Bloom has neither a respect for the victims nor an idea of personal space and has no problem ignoring police commands and getting right up in the face of those who are bleeding and even dying. This makes for some amazing footage though, because as they say in the news business, "If it bleeds, it leads."
This brings him to Nina Romina's (Rene Russo) door. She's the news director on the late, late shift of the lowest rated station and she is hungry to get her hands on Lou's visceral footage. As he brings her more and better footage, her ratings climb. Then Lou starts to manipulate things to get what he wants, whether it's the best possible shot of a scene or even a relationship with Nina. Lou takes on an intern in the form of Rick Garcia (Riz Ahmed), making himself out to be the head of an important news company, paying Rick $30 a night. He initially barks orders at Rick for directions while driving at high speeds to get to the scenes of crimes, but eventually the two get to a point where they operate as a smooth machine. When Loder decides to expand his operation and invites Bloom to join the Mayhem team, suggesting they work together instead of as rivals, Lou flatly refuses, taking the matter of competition into his own hands.
As Lou's business grows, he makes more demands, wanting verbal recognition for his footage on the news and to get to know other members of the news team. It is clear he is losing his grip on things, but he was wound so tight from the very beginning, it's difficult to tell. Things really escalate when he arrives at a brutal crime scene before police and shoots video that could not only implicate the shooters, but is also very insensitive to the victims, to say the least. When confronted by police, he claims not to remember the shooters, but then he decides to make his own news - the perfect footage - by following the shooters himself. Lou's thrilling endgame is quite intense, but will it put him on the map or in the ground?
Watching the evolution of Jake Gyllenhaal as Lou Bloom is fascinating, as he turns from a charming, intelligent young man one minute to a cold and manipulative psycho the next. He lost about 20 pounds for the role, according to the featurette, and he really looks the part of a desperate yet determined man, who is just not quite right.
I found Nightcrawler to be a very interesting and intense film. Personally, I just assumed the news stations had their own video crews and never knew these stringers or nightcrawlers existed. According to the featurette, it's a booming business for a select group of risk-takers in the Los Angeles area. In addition to the featurette, "If It Leads, It Bleeds" which gives some behind the scenes insight, there is also audio commentary provided by brothers Writer/Director Dan Gilroy, Producer Tony Gilroy and Editor John Gilroy.
I have even more respect for Jake Gylenhaal having seen him in this film than I did previously. He does an amazing and creepy portrayal of Lou Bloom. If you are looking for a different twist on the standard thriller, check out Nightcrawler.