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Taylor Swift feels it’s time to possibly direct a feature film.
“If it were the right thing, it would be such a privilege and honor,” the singer-songwriter told the Toronto Film Festival during an In Conversation With… appearance.
But don’t expect Swift to direct action sequences. “I will always want to tell human stories about human emotion,” she insisted, before giving a shout out to fellow women directors like Nora Ephron, Chloe Zhao and Greta Gerwig as influences on her fledging career.
“It’s really beautiful that we’re in a place where the idea of a female filmmaker doesn’t make you roll your eyes or think as skeptically as it once was,” Swift said. During the discussion, the singer-songwriter talked about her evolution as a film director by initially writing songs and then setting words and music to film with storyboards and a shot list.
Swift explained how her journey into filmmaking didn’t come overnight and called for baby steps. “I didn’t go to film school. I’ve been on the set of around 60 music videos and I’ve learned a lot from that process,” she recalled. “But when I did it on my own, I really began to learn everything, because you have to,” Swift said of directing her first music video for “The Man,” based on the song from her 2019 album Lover. She went on to direct music videos for her singles “Cardigan” and “Willow.”
“It was always a part of the process, establishing visuals,” Swift recalled of her early singing career, where she involved herself in creating and shooting music videos. “The more responsibility I took on, the happier I was.”
Swift explained that the creation of her album 1989 was preceded by watching John Hughes’ Sixteen Candles over and over again. She also praised Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water, which she said she watched during the pandemic and was impressed by. “In my mind, there was a period in the 1970s where you started to see romantic films where the characters are so beautifully woven together, and then they unravel,” Swift said as she pointed to Kramer vs. Kramer, A Love Story and other classics from that era.
As part of the conversation, Swift screened her short film All Too Well: The Short Film for the first time on 35mm. Based on Swift’s song “All Too Well,” All Too Well: The Short Film, which Swift wrote and directed, portrays a young man and woman falling in love and the heartbreak that followed after their breakup.
“You can tell a lot about people based on how they fight,” Swift said of a fight sequence between co-stars Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien. “She feels out of place and he feels unequipped to handle that.”
Swift also makes an appearance in the short. In one scene, the couple have an argument after a visit with friends, followed by Sink and O’Brien’s characters making up. But after they break up, Sadie’s character is shown reeling emotionally as the short features flashbacks of happier times in their relationship.
“I feel like watching it this time, there was a depth to the color and the contrast that I haven’t seen when I watched it before. I’m grateful to have shared it with you guys,” Swift said after the screening.
The Toronto Film Festival continues to Sept. 18.
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