At the inaugural Produced By: New York Conference on October 25, film producer and former Producers Guild of America (PGA) president Hawk Koch introduced Jake Gyllenhaal as family he’s known since Gyllenhaal was a toddler.
The warm intro set the conversational tone for one of the conference’s morning events, a dialogue between Koch and Gyllenhaal on his rise to double-threat status: actor and producer. Gyllenhaal, who will be the newest addition to the PGA, was an executive producer on “End of Watch” (2012) as well as a producer on Dan Gilroy’s upcoming thriller “Nightcrawler,” in which he also stars as a young morally challenged video-journalist sucked into the world of L.A. crime reporting. The film is set to hit theaters October 31.
Below are highlights from the panel:
Jake Gyllenhaal went into producing, in part, because he grew up behind the camera (his mother is a screenwriter and his father, a director).
“It wasn’t until later when I had lessons that I decided to
become an actor…even as an actor I’ve always watched from behind, intensely and
intently, trying to see what’s going on and wanting to know what’s going on because
somewhere in my heart—is over there.”
“I’ve always been fascinated with the abrasion between the
actors in front and the people behind the camera…and the people who really do it,
who bring the two together in a beautiful way.”
The similarities between “Nightcrawler” and “End of Watch” made him want to join “Nightcrawler” as a producer.
“Because I had been executive producer on ‘End of Watch,’ which shot in Los
Angeles, was a similar budget…and because…thematically there were some
similarities where we’d be shooting locations and stuff—I said I would really
like to be a part of this as a producer.”
“Dan (Gilroy), being a first time
director and there being such an extraordinary team of producers on the
movie—Jennifer Fox and Tony Gilroy were already on as producers when the material came
to me—I knew they were people I could learn from and I knew I could bring my
Past producing experience framed how he ended up tackling “Nightcrawler.”
“Initially, as an actor, I knew
the issues we had on ‘End of Watch’ when we made that movie and I knew we’d
lose locations because of, you know, just in terms of budgets…all the issues
you deal with in making an independent film…we made ‘Nightcrawler’ for eight million, we made ‘End of Watch’ for six and a half. We shot ‘End of Watch’ in
22 days, we shot ‘Nightcrawler’ in 26 days.”
What he wished more producers and actors understood about their professions.
“Don’t take things personally. That everyone has an agenda and
their agenda is to be respected. As an actor, I think that acting is an
incredibly immature and selfish profession. But I also believe, on the flipside
of that coin, that it can also produce and help produce…great empathy.”
He’s never read a script as an actor.
“That’s probably a problem. Actually, it hasn’t been until
recently that I really have because my family, particularly my mother who’s a
screenwriter—and a producer and a director—but primarily a screenwriter,
initially has always taught me that story is king. And so, I’ve always read it
seeing the whole thing, the whole picture and trying to see how it could be
He might one day want to direct.
During the course of the Q&A, Koch asked a particular question that he said he had presented to Gyllenhaal once before: when would he take on directing? To which Gyllenhaal responded, “Oh God, it’s so hard to get into DGA.”
After a round of laughter, he continued, “When I’m feeling presumptuous.
Hopefully when I find something that I know…you know my father would always say
to me, you really need to have it in your heart when you tell a story, when you
direct a movie. When my heart aligns with the material in that way, in that sort
of visual way where I feel confident about how I would want to tell it, about
how I’d probably want to be a leader in that way, then I’ll do it. But I’m searching for something
like that, for an experience like that—but I’ve yet to feel presumptuous