After winning the MTV Video Music Award for Video of the Year, Taylor Swift bring “Very good: The Short Film” at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9 for a discussion in front of dozens of dedicated fans. How devoted? The first group to line up arrived at midnight, the second group at 5am – and they didn’t even have tickets yet, but hoped that call would answer their prayers or they’d spot Swift passing by.
The talk, moderated by TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey, focused on Swift’s filmmaking process and looked at her music from a visual perspective. It was also associated with the first 35mm screening of “All Too Well”, which she wrote, directed, produced and featured in.
Top news? Deep in the conversation, Bailey asked if Swift would be interested in doing feature films one day, and she said yes, if she could find the right material.
“I would love to keep taking small steps forward,” she said. “And I think I’m at a place now where the next baby step isn’t a baby step. That would be to commit to making a movie. And I feel like I would absolutely love the good opportunity arises because I absolutely, absolutely love telling stories in this way.
Asked more about the features, she said, “If it was the right thing, it would be such a privilege and an honor.”
Discussing the types of storytelling she wants to explore, Swift said, “I think I will always want to tell human stories about human emotion. I never say never, but I can’t imagine filming an action sequence. If that ever happens, honestly, it’ll be fun character growth, but at this point I could see it unfolding in a more comedic and irreverent place. I don’t always see myself telling stories about extreme, guttural heartaches at your most formative age that weaken you emotionally for years and then you have to develop the scar tissue to get on with your life and limp to your machine to write and write a novel about it. I think I did that.
Swift also discussed the films that influenced the “All Too Well” project.
“In my mind, there’s this period in the ’70s when we started seeing these romantic movies where these two characters are so beautifully, intimately woven together, and then they untie the braid right in front of you and you just can’t believe it, like ‘The Way We Were’, ‘Love Story’, ‘Kramer vs. Kramer’ And so those are the ones I’m thinking about, because I love those movies… just hitting those emotional touchstones that those movies just punch me in the stomach and punch.
In terms of contemporary influences, Swift has turned to arthouse dishes.
“I think in terms of modern movies that I loved that probably lent themselves to making this movie, I would say ‘Marriage Story’ was really upsetting for months. And ‘The Souvenir’ parts one and two , Joanna Hogg’s movies I had actually done the short by the time I went to see “The Souvenir Part II”, and the fact that it’s about this young woman who is going through this heartache and despair extremes and then does something…that’s exactly what I want to see in a movie.”
She also revealed why the movie “All Too Well” took her 10 years to view.
“For me, the song was so difficult because it was about something that, at that time, was very current for me,” she said. “I would have a really hard time doing it back then. I had to really force myself to focus on other things to try to get by on the tour. So there wouldn’t be any people in which I could have done a visual element of this song at that time. I needed 10 years of hindsight to know what I would even do to visually tell a version of this story. And I’m so grateful to to have been able to do it with a crazy blow of all these different twists of fate.
Swift also explained the significance of the video’s “scarf,” which has become a fan-favorite talking point.
“Basically, the headscarf is a metaphor,” she said. “And we put it in red because red is a very important color in this album, which is called ‘Red’. And I think when I say it’s a metaphor, I’m just going to stop .
Swift also described how Dylan O’Brien’s portrayal of him is so impactful that even though he “gaslights” Sadie Sink’s Her, she still finds herself rooting for him too.
“I know it’s problematic, but I look at this, I’m like, ‘He’s so charismatic,'” she said. “He’s charismatic, problematic, and I’m always rooting for them to work through that, because he makes charming remarks.”
“All Too Well (Taylor’s Version)” was released in November 2021, alongside an extended 10-minute version of the song released on “Red (Taylor’s Version)”. It features Sink and O’Brien portraying an age gap relationship which mirrors the lyrics of the song. Swift previously screened and discussed the film at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. The viral music video, along with a performance of the full 10-minute version on “Saturday Night Live,” helped Swift win the Guinness World Record for longest song to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
After winning the VMA for “All Too Well,” Swift announced in her acceptance speech that she would be releasing her next album, “Midnights,” on October 21.