Movie “Nightcrawler” vs reality


Jake Gyllenhaal plays as Lou Bloom in the movie Nightcrawler, a cameraman who makes money by filming 112 / 911 emergencies without any moral/ethic borders. Is everything in the movie shown real ?



I’m not going to write a review about the performance of the different actors, I’m about to write and compare the events happening in the movie with the reality. Of course Los Angeles is not the same like Nijmegen, and the blood thirstiness in the US-media is quite different than the general report of incidents in the Netherlands.


Jake Gyllenhaal as Lou Bloom in the movie Nightcrawler

How close can you get?

In the movie the cameramen went really close to the incidents, especially the main character Lou Bloom. Some of them were standing next to an crashed airplane or few centimetres next to crashed car to film the dead person inside.
Lou Bloom hold his camera several times directly over a victim, filming how the paramedics try to revive the victim or treat blood gushing wounds on the chest or head. So, he filmed mostly graphic contents.

The reality:
Whenever an accident happens the police officers keep the people back, several meters away. Using very often some “Do not cross tapes”.

– With shootings even as press I cannot get closer than other regular people. Of course I try to get closer but that one is only possible if you ask (politely) a policemen if you can get closer.
– With burnings (house /cars) I can get closer, the limitation is only that I do not stand in the way of any firemen. When I come to such a burning incident I immediately know where I can stand, because I know where the fireman are walking.
– With car accidents only press (with press card) can cross it, but also not much, to leave the accident itself intact for trace analysis. Moreover: It happens very often that the fire brigade assist the paramedics but holding big view blocking panels. So even with my tele lens I cannot see anything that happens behind. And that is good, privacy is important.
– People committing suicide: I never took photos of that, the camera stays in the camera bag. I also leave the place to give the professionals of the police all the space that they need.


A car accident at “Weg door Jonkerbos” in Nijmegen. There’s is a person stuck in the mercedes. This is the closest I am allowed to get, I may use some zoom, but I cannot walk closer by feet.

Police kicks you away
In the movie Lou Bloom went really close to the victims, had enough time before the police told him and other media “to back off”.

The reality:
It’s actually true: when one of the media people gets too close to the incident place all the other media people in the background needs “to back off” or get even send away.
But like I said “too close” has here in Nijmegen a different meaning than in the movie in Los Angeles. Here the definition of too close is “you might stand some other people in the way”.

Leaving the incident place intact:
Lou Bloom moved even a dead body from a car accident next to the car into the light to have a more dramatic shot on tape. He filmed even inside of a car some dead people.
Furthermore: Due to the lack of police officers he went into a house and filmed several dead people who were just shot minutes ago.

The reality:
Just to be clear: Do. Not. Touch. Anything. Do not step on anything, do not move anything. I never did that, I never will that. I keep my distance to the incident place. Just for the rare case I do need to get closer, because there is a building/wall/tree/car in the way I do ask first and walk the exact same steps that the firemen or policemen walked before.
Lou Bloom walked into the house where a shooting just took place: Nobody would ever do that here . Never. It destroys evidence, even worse I’d make myself a suspect.


Same car accident, a person gets moved to an ambulance. The focus of the camera is in the foreground, thats why the background is to blurred. You can’t really see the person(s) in the background

Viewers discretion is advised
This is a phrase very often said in the movie, just before they show some “graphic” content: victims with a lot of blood on their face, deep wounds. Suspects shot in front of the camera.
You can see all the time the faces, except one time when the victims in a house where shown.

The reality:
I have never shown the faces of a victim, I always blurred them. I have to admit that this blurring costs a lot of time, I try to shoot only photos when the face or body is covered by something. A police officers leg or the door from the ambulance.

This is the most that you’d ever see from a victim. I also blur number plates and blur the faces of policemen and paramedics.

Posted in Blog, Press.