Dumb Money – Interview with director CRAIG GILLESPIE

At the height of the pandemic, a group of ordinary people led by a small-time finance blogger, Keith Gill (Paul Dano), invested in Gamestop. Not taking their investments seriously, Wall Street bigwigs attempted to thwart them with unbelievable consequences.

We spoke to ‘Dumb Money’ director Craig Gillespie, who helmed ‘Pam & Tommy’ & ‘I, Tonya’ to find out more.

I really enjoyed that someone like me, who doesn’t understand the stock market and isn’t particularly good at maths, could follow along. How important was it to make the film accessible, and how difficult was it to find the right pitch? 
It can be a very dense topic, but I think at the core of this and why I was interested in it is it’s an emotional, intense ride with people’s livelihoods at stake, and I think everybody can relate to that. It was done at a time that we’ve never experienced before with COVID and with this frustration and wanting to be heard, and this disparity of wealth that’s going on in the country. They were the things that resonated with me. In terms of following along, that was a constant struggle in the edit; how much do we actually need to get into the weeds on this? Ultimately, we figured out through screening with friends and family that it’s the actors who are telling us what we need to know emotionally, what they’re going through, what the stakes are for them. On a very basic level, the hedge funds are betting the stock goes down, and the population is betting it goes up to screw the hedge funds. 

You have so many great actors, and each character is so well-rounded, which doesn’t often happen in an ensemble where people can get lost. Tell us about that dynamic and how you ensured each actor got their moment. 
That was a concern because there’s only so much real estate; we’ve got 12 characters in there, so really trying to make them feel distinct and understand their background and what’s at stake for each of them individually was a testament to the writers. Almost every time I managed to get one of our actors involved, it elevated. It challenged me because, oh, great, we’ve got Pete Davidson, let’s figure out some more scenes with Pete, or we’ve got Anthony Ramos, let’s do this. I’d be so excited when we were working with them; we would add extra scenes and squeeze this whole thing together.


This is not your first underdog story. What is the attraction? 
I think I’ve got to figure that one out. It seems like everything I do is about outsiders or underdogs. I don’t know; I haven’t done enough therapy yet to know what the root of that is. I moved to New York City when I was 19 and lived in a YMCA, not knowing anyone, so I started out as an outsider.  

What would you like audiences to take away from the film? 
It’s a very fun ride, obviously, but I want there to be a sense of outrage at what has been going on in the country, the disparity of wealth, and this inherent feeling that the system is rigged against the little person. And that’s something that I really felt as this was unfolding in real time, and it’s something I wanted to capture in the filming and continue that dialogue.

Interview by Cara O’Doherty

DUMB MONEY is at Irish cinemas from Sept 22nd