Though Canadian actor Giacomo Gianniotti calls Los Angeles home these days, it’s easy to see that his heart is still firmly rooted in the Great White North.
When it came time to storyboard his first directing gig – shooting the music video for Toronto singer-songwriter SIDNY and Juno Award-winning producer Anthony Kalabretta’s forthcoming summer hit, “Falling for You” – the Grey’s Anatomy star knew right away where he wanted to bring his vision to life.
“I just want to shout out to the city. Drake can’t be the only person repping Toronto!” Giacomo recently told Hello! Canada.
In between takes as Dr. Andrew DeLuca on the long-running medical drama, Giacomo studied directing at Lights Film School and MasterClass last winter. So when his hometown friends and former classmates from Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts decided to release their first song together, he knew he had to be a part of the project.
Here, Giacomo, 27, exclusively chats with Hello! Canada about collaborating with his longtime friends, his love of Toronto and making his directorial debut with “Falling for You,” which drops June 1 on YouTube.
CLICK HERE FOR AN EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK AT THE VIDEO!
How did your directorial debut come about? I started studying directing here in Los Angeles in December. As we were getting toward April, we were talking about this music video and I mentioned that I had been studying directing for a while and you can only learn how to drive a car by reading a book for so long. I was really eager and ready to get my hands dirty and direct something and apply the skills I was learning in film school."
"I thought the music video would be a great way because they are just very creative. They don’t live within the parameters that films do. So we got together and brainstormed a few ideas, I came up with a treatment and sent it over to them. They loved it and from there, they just said, “Alright, you’re going to direct it then!”
SIDNY said he was inspired by past relationships when writing the song; what were you inspired by in directing the video? It’s sort of about being in that in-between place of friends and lovers. You’re not quite lovers and you’re more than friends, so what are you? So I kind of wanted to show a picture of youth today in a way that fascinates me because that’s not really my life. And a lot of the big craze today is music festivals like Coachella, where there’s all these raves, and so I thought this was an interesting part of our youth culture that I wanted to maybe tap into and expose with the backdrop of their relationship.
You captured some beautiful shots of Toronto; it felt like a love letter to the city. It totally is! The Scarborough Bluffs were certainly a big part of my teen years. It’s a gorgeous place and when I was thinking about the beach I just knew that was where I wanted to shoot. And they have these beautiful reeds and the way the light dances on them, it just looks so pretty. And the rest of it, we mostly shot around Yonge-Dundas square, jumping around little alleys and making it look like a million different places around the city. And there’s a scene where the couple is sitting at the dock and you see the whole skyline. That’s my love letter to Toronto right there.
Both SIDNY and Anthony have EPs coming out this summer. Will you be involved with those in some way?
We always try to write together but it’s hard being in Los Angeles – obviously, it doesn’t allow to collaborate musically as much as we used to and in a way that we would like to. But we’re already talking about me directing and producing other videos so I think that’s probably where I’m going to lean in next. And maybe in the future we’ll write more music together. But for now, I think I’ve got a little too much on my plate. I love the directing thing and what I learn and get from it. So I’d love to continue to direct videos for them. It’s the dream team, absolutely.
How did it feel to see everything come together in the end?
SIDNY, Anthony and I were all just blown away by the people we got to work with us come on board. I found a cinematographer from a film that I had shot the year before, [Martin Wojtunik], who’s a friend of mine, and asked if he wanted to be our director of photography, and he said yes and jumped on board. He was such a huge part of the style and mood that we built. And then I had Victor Fan, he was an editor that I actually met when I was at the Canadian Film Centre as an acting resident. We became friends, so when I needed an editor, he was the first person I thought of. He was a lovely match and such a professional, and gave it a really great cut. A friend of ours, Erica Kiara, she took photos, my girlfriend was doing hair and makeup, my friends at Channel 13 [advertising and design agency] did the graphics, so it was a real home team kind of vibe. Everybody who we know and love from our inner circle pitched in and offered their artistic talent, so it was great.