Nightcrawling Is A Real Thing: Meet The Guys Who Inspired Jake Gyllenhaal’s Creepiest Character

Nightcrawler is one of my favorite films of the year, and it was one of those films that didn’t need to be especially “realistic” in order to be great, it was fine just as a portrait of one of cinema’s all-time great weirdo characters, part of whose charm was that he seemed to exist on a different plane of space-time. Even the idea of a person getting rich from local TV news seemed weirdly anachronistic, if not overtly unbelievable. But it turns out, people who make their living like Lou Bloom did do exist, and the ones profiled in a new LA Times piece even drive almost the same car, a Dodge Charger (Gyllenhaal’s character drove a Challenger).

But it turns out the film is a largely accurate portrayal of how half a dozen like-minded entities operate in Los Angeles. (The British-born Raishbrooks’ RMG Media, which also includes Austin’s twin brother Howard, is among the top outfits.) These are men who know your mother’s advice that nothing good happens after 2 a.m. and like it that way, choosing to work the freeways and police scanners long after the last unionized news cameraman and (nearly every other sane Angeleno) has hit the pillow.

The Raishbrooks were technical advisers on the film and Jake Gyllenhaal even went on a ride along.

As in the film, there is also a sense of ruthless competition. At one site on Saturday, the Raishbrooks arrive a minute too late, finding rival Scott Lane, a brassy man in a ballcap bearing the word “Press” in all capital letters, already there. “Hey, nightcrawler,” he smirked to Austin. (What the Raishbrooks do is called “stringing”; the term “nightcrawler” was invented for the film.)

The only way that could be better is if he’d told them “You’re stewed, buttwad.” And if the race stuff in the film seemed a little heavy-handed, nope, it turns out it was exactly as depicted.

And gun violence is variable. “The same shooting is worth a lot less in South Central as it is in Brentwood,” Austin Raishbrook said. “We don’t usually go to Compton.” [LA Times]

Yikes. I guess I shouldn’t be shocked, but the amount of non-chalance with which someone in 2014 will all but admit that white people matter more is still pretty amazing.

The Raishbrooks, along with some other stringers, were profiled in a 2008 TruTV series called Stringers: LA, some of which you can watch below. Their business model is evolving (read: disappearing) thanks to ubiquitous iPhone cameras and shrinking local news budgets, but as Lou Bloom would say, if you want to win the lottery, YOU STILL HAVE TO EARN THE MONEY TO BUY A TICKET.

It’s weird, almost everything about these guys is sort of gross and repellent, but you can’t help but be oddly pleased that some of the scummy, Ray Chandler LA still exists. It’s like finding a real-life hooker with a heart of gold.