10 Directors to Watch: Dan Gilroy Dissects L.A. in ‘Nightcrawler,’ Next Project

Between high-profile screenwriting gigs, Gilroy opted to direct one of his own scripts, co-starring wife Rene Russo.

10 directors to watch

A veteran screenwriter and native Angeleno, Gilroy may be a first-time helmer, but between movie-star wife Rene Russo, Pulitzer-winning dad Frank D. Gilroy (“The Subject Was Roses”), writer-director brother Tony Gilroy (“Michael Clayton”) and film-editor twin John Gilroy (“Salt”), he’s also Hollywood royalty. None are easy acts to follow, yet at age 55, Gilroy is living up to his legacy with “Nightcrawler.”

Until he penned the provocative thriller two years ago, “I’d never felt, ‘This is something I have to direct,’ ” he says, “so I was very confident that I’d picked the right vehicle.” A writer’s touch is evident in the story of a sleazy opportunist (Jake Gyllenhaal) selling crime-scene footage to an L.A. news producer (Russo) and its harsh commentary on “hyper-capitalism” and the media — an arena the former Variety reporter knows well. “I have a strong desire to communicate what I feel about the world. That’s exciting to me,” explains Gilroy, whose resourcefulness made the most of a lean $8.5 million budget he helped raise himself.

Since Gilroy’s first produced screenplay (the 1992 sci-fi thriller “Freejack”), his films have jumped from comedy (“Chasers”) to drama (“Two for the Money”) to fantasy (Tarsem’s “The Fall,” which “inspired me with what was possible visually”) to action (“The Bourne Legacy,” his first collaboration with his brothers).

Gilroy also penned the in-development superhero movie “The Annihilator” and is now writing Lionsgate’s true crime thriller “Storming Las Vegas” for Antoine Fuqua. He put aside a Gaumont TV project (“I’d love to work on a canvas that big, but you have to be ready for a years-long commitment”) for another script about an L.A. subculture he hopes to direct as an under-$20 million feature.

“L.A. has a wild, untamed energy I often don’t see in films,” he says.