Taylor Swift, the singer-songwriter, appeared at the Tribeca Film Festival on Saturday as a director. She’s taken this role on recently, having directed her music video, ‘The Man’, a few months back, and now has helmed ‘All Too Well‘. The short film includes the 10-minute soundtrack of the same name.
In a conversation with director Mike Mills, the 32-year-old from West Reading, Pennsylvania explained how she moved towards directing.
The art of visualization
Swift said that she began getting involved in making changes and editing her videos, early in her career. “It started with meddling”, the ‘Love Story’ singer noted, as per The Hollywood Reporter, adding that she began writing extensive treatments for her videos but initially outsourced the direction, though Swift explained how she always viewed direction as a “natural extension of storytelling and writing.”
The singer has also helmed the videos of ‘Cardigan‘ and ‘Willow’, said, “It felt very natural to extend writing a song and visualizing it in my head to making a shot list and storyboarding it and picking who we wanted as the head of each department and who would help put all of this puzzle together”, adding, “And it’s been a different approach for each [project]”, as per THR.
Jumping in with both feet
Despite gravitating toward a directorial venture, the popstar conceded that she’d only gotten into the director’s chair nearly out of necessity on ‘The Man’.
“My first instinct was to write the treatment, send it out. I wanted a female director to direct it”, Swift said, continuing, “And all of my favourite female directors were booked and busy, which is great. We love that. That’s fantastic. So I just figured maybe I could do it?”
She grappled with imposter syndrome – where one feels they don’t belong in a particular space, even if they are actually qualified to be there – for a while. Swift said she felt like directing was “something that other people did”.
However, the singer explained how she eventually came around to the idea. Swift said, “I would just be around it and be in my head like, ‘I love that they did that’; ‘I would have done that differently,’ So the list of things that I was absorbing became so long that eventually, I thought, ‘I really want to do this.'”
Once Swift began directing, she said she didn’t want to stop, adding “I found it incredibly fulfilling.”
Swift admitted that she’s still learning, but clarified that the singer approached the 15-minute ‘All Too Well’ as a short film and not a music video.
Feature dreams and women in filmmaking
Swift added that she “would love” to helm a movie.
“It would be so fantastic to write and direct a feature. I don’t see it being bigger in terms of scale. I loved making a film that was so intimate with a group that was really small and a really solid group of people that I trusted”, the singer said.
However, Swift acknowledged the challenges faced by female filmmakers, saying, “I’m also extremely aware of my privilege when it comes to being a female filmmaker because I was able to finance this film myself. I have to constantly be aware that, as much as it’s a constant challenge for me to be doing something new, I also understand that it’s still extremely hard for women to make films, and I am always keeping an eye on that reality.”
The audience present at Beacon Theater lauded Swift while she was on stage, and sang along when she performed ‘All Too Well’ at the close.