Taylor Swift is already well known as a singer-songwriter, but on Saturday she appeared at the Tribeca Festival as a director, a role she has only taken on in recent years, first directing her clip for “The Man” and, just a few months ago, making his short film, Very goodsoundtrack of the 10-minute version of the song of the same name.
Joined by surprise guests Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien, who play the couple at the center of the film, Swift explained her approach to the craft Very good and how she transitioned to directing, in a conversation with director Mike Mills.
She explained that early in her career, she started getting involved in the process of editing her videos and making edits.
“It started with interference,” she said. About 10 years ago, she explained, she started writing elaborate treatments for her videos and “outsourced the directing,” but she saw the shooting as a “natural extension of storytelling. and writing”.
“It felt very natural to expand writing a song and visualizing it in my head to making a shot list and scripting it and choosing who we wanted to head up each department and who would help putting this whole puzzle together,” Swift, who also directed the music videos for “Cardigan” and “Willow,” said. “And it’s been a different approach for everyone [project].”
But she admitted she started directing “almost out of necessity” on ‘The Man’.
“My first instinct was to write the treatment, send it in. I wanted a female director to direct it,” she said. “And all my favorite female directors were reserved and busy, which is great. We like that. It’s fantastic. So I thought maybe I could do it?
Swift said for a time that she struggled with “impostor syndrome,” feeling like directing was “something other people do.”
“I would just be around that and I’d be in my head like, ‘I love that they did that’; ‘I would have done that differently,'” she said. “So the list of things that I was absorbing became so long that finally I thought, ‘I really want to do this.'”
And then once she started directing, she wouldn’t stop saying, “I found it incredibly fulfilling.”
While admitting she’s still learning, Swift made it clear she was nearing 15 minutes. Very good as a short film, “not a music video”.
And she said she would “love” to direct a film.
“It would be so fantastic to write and direct a feature film,” she said. “I don’t see it being bigger in terms of scale. I loved making a movie that was so intimate with a group that was really small and a really strong group of people that I trusted.
Still, she explained, she’s very aware of the challenges female directors face.
“I’m also extremely aware of my privilege of being a female filmmaker, as I was able to fund this film myself,” she said. “I constantly have to be aware that while it’s a constant challenge for me to do something new, I also understand that it’s still extremely difficult for women to make films, and I always keep an eye out for this reality.”
Speaking specifically about Very goodSwift explained how she uses visual cues as forms of foreshadowing and to better reflect characters’ emotions.
The character of Sink, as seen by viewers in Very goodis a writer, and Swift explained that she foreshadowed that with Pablo Neruda’s quote at the start of the film and the character of Sink wondering if she was O’Brien’s character.
“One day she’ll write a book and she’ll turn her character into the main character of the novel,” Swift said, adding that the film’s chapter markers are “chapters in her novel.”
There’s also, as Swift fans expect, an easter egg in the form of a red typewriter that first appears in a quick spin when viewers meet O’Brien’s character. .
“Later we see her typing on this typewriter and we assume he gave it to her. She complimented it and he gave it to her,” Swift explained. this story, but he also gave her something. This dream and the hope that she had of being a writer, I think her experience with him is what galvanized her in her life and her career.
Something similar, Swift said, happened in her own life, as she recalled how not owning her masters led her to re-record her old albums, which included the release of the 10-minute version of ” All Too Well” as part of the Red reissue.
“I’m in this situation talking about a short film that I’m incredibly proud of because I lost all my work. I wasn’t able to own my work and I’ve wanted it since I got away from it. remembered,” she said. “It was a very difficult time for me. …Many of my toughest times and times of extreme grief or loss have been galvanized into what my life looks like now. I am very happy with where my life is now.
Later, Swift offered some great advice on perspective for anyone else going through a tough time: “Timing and perspective just add a better view,” she said. “The farther you are from something, the more you can see.”
And indeed, that is exactly what she did with the Very good film.
“I wanted to show [the couple’s] proximity in handheld shots. I wanted to be so close that we could count the freckles,” Swift explained. “And then, as things happen and things fall apart, I wanted our shots to reflect the estrangement that she feels, that hopeless isolation that she feels because her world has fallen apart. open to this amazing, big, passionate, intense love, and then it’s just – all of a sudden, overnight, it’s shrunk to nothing. The floor crumbles. And she feels so away from her friends in her old life because she’s been in this adult, mature world that she never really felt fit either.
The audience at the Beacon Theater was full of enthusiastic Taylor Swift fans who screamed and gasped throughout her time on stage, and Swift closed with another surprise: a live performance of the 10-minute version of “All Too Well,” during which fans sang along. on.