It was not obviously ominous when Taylor Swift directed the ten minute-long “Taylor’s Version” of “All Too Well,” her now decade-old song about having a bad boyfriend (not to be confused with earlier and more recent Swift songs about having a bad boyfriend). For one, she’d directed several music videos off of her 2019 album, Lover, like the sort-of funny “The Man” video in which she also appears in drag.
Maybe we should have read further into the fact that she clarified that the new “All Too Well” video was a “short film,” as explained by the video’s full title: “All Too Well: The Short Film.” Well, whatever. People call things a lot of stuff they’re not. You don’t see me griping about that. But then, she started to make the rounds at film screenings this fall – not alongside longtime boyfriend and actor Joe Alwyn, for his dual premieres of Stars at Noon (which she credits for bringing her and producer Jack Antonoff together for her most recent album) and Gawker favorite Catherine Called Birdy. No, Swift began making the rounds as a filmmaker herself, a process which started with an invite-only event at the Toronto Film Festival and most recently culminated in the announcement earlier this week that she would appear in Variety’s “Directors on Directors” video series alongside The Banshees of Inisherin director Martin McDonagh.
Is Swift gunning for an Oscar? What kind of legitimacy play is this? Is this pairing disrespectful to McDonagh’s work, or is it actually fine because Swift and McDonagh’s girlfriend Fleabag are friends (not sure if this is true) or because McDonagh’s work is also about petty feuds blown out of proportion? There is sadly no time to discuss any of this, because today we are faced with even bigger news. Variety announced Swift is directing her feature debut for Fox Searchlight.
What do we know about the movie? Nothing, basically, which is how I’d prefer to keep it as long as possible. My coworker and Swift scholar Olivia Craighead said that Swift said on Fallon that she’s only interested in directing stuff she writes. Okay, Joanna Hogg. I sort of think that if Swift was really “going for it,” as they say, she would have simply shown up at the Venice Film Festival with a finished film in 2024, but I’m no publicist. Instead, Swift released a “behind the scenes” video of her directing the “All Too Well: The Short Film” music video yesterday. You can watch that here, and make your own judgments about how her feature will go.
Regardless of the quality of her work, you can really tell she is doing the “female director” thing: wearing her hair in a ponytail, laughing on cue to suggest that directing is enjoyable especially for women, and wearing a mask to adhere to COVID protocols. She is casual, but in charge! Well, as a website composed mostly of women, we love that, I guess.
It’s hard to know for sure what the feel of Swift’s feature will be, but if her music videos suggest anything, it may be dense with the lush swirling of a Terrence Malick film or the bizarre inanity of Brie Larson’s forgotten feature debut called – I wish I was kidding – Unicorn Store. It’s my personal wish that she brings back together the sprawling cast of the “Bad Blood ft. Kendrick Lamar” music video, a video I rewatch every two to four months to be like, “weird moment in time.” Regardless, this is a new era in our rapidly accelerating push towards climate apocalypse, and I welcome it with open arms.