I’ve known Jimmy Giannopoulos for around 12 years. Back in the day, we both worked service jobs in the Lower East Side of Manhattan while pursuing our various creative endeavors. After I met him, he was becoming successful with his band Pretty Good Dance Moves (his Instagram handle is still PGDM). He also had a band with actor Penn Badgley called Mother. But he’s probably most well known for his band with Zoe Kravitz, Lolawolf, and there are probably a ton of other musical projects he has participated in over the years that I’m missing.
In 2018, I saw Jimmy while he was Dj-ing at a bar called Bonnie Vee. I had heard from a mutual friend that he was directing a movie, and when I found out it was really happening, I was so excited! I followed the trajectory of what would become The Birthday Cake very closely. Each time a new big-name celebrity would be announced for the cast, I became more and more proud. I know this dude. I remember when he worked at The Living Room, and now he’s doing the big job! He’s making it happen! The pride probably shows through in this interview, but I don’t care. Jimmy modernized the mob movie with his debut feature. I implore you to watch The Birthday Cake as soon as you can. Read this interview first, though. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed doing it.
“Ideas, imagination, and a gang, you can probably make a better movie than someone who spent 10 million dollars.”
Dude, I am so psyched for you! Because we’ve known each other forever, so when I first heard that you were making a movie, I was really excited. So, I’m really glad we’re at this point.
Of course. I remember talking to you about it at Bonnie Vee.
Oh yeah, when you were DJ-ing over there!
We were trying to get it together then.
Yeah, it was in really early stages. Since I know you, I wanted to talk about your history a little bit for people who don’t know. You started out doing music, so did you always want to be involved in filmmaking?
That’s a good question. As far as trying to build something and express ideas and the creative challenges therein, they are quite similar. Music is a lot faster, obviously. It’s instant, especially these days. You’re in there, you’re working, you’re manipulating the world. But, when I was a little kid, I used to make skateboarding videos with my friends before I was even into music. I was always interested in the visuals.
I guess I’ve wanted to do it my whole life. I never actually understood what it took to make a film. Working with SAG and all that stuff, I didn’t know anything about that. I just know my camera, the story, the actors, and where we wanted to shoot. That was as far as I could get. Then I learned all about the process. As far as the creative stuff goes, whether it’s working on a play, music, film, or producing a political campaign, whatever it might be. A lot of these things live in the same world in my mind.