Taylor Swift made a rare public appearance at the Tribeca Film Festival on Saturday, chatting with indie director Mike Mills to discuss her short film for “All Too Well.” She sat down with Mills for an hour at the Beacon Theater in New York City, giving fascinating insight into her creative process. It was a whole new side of Dr. Swift – meet Film Geek (Taylor’s Version).
Taylor has been quiet on social media for most of the year. She gave her NYU commencement speech last month, but she got even more personal here, revealing how her cinema has been influenced by John Cassavetes and Barbara Stanwyck. (Her mind!) She screened the film and brought out stars Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien. And to top it all off, she finished with a solo acoustic performance of “All Too Well,” every heartbreaking 10 minutes.
Taylor has gone into hardcore filmmaker mode, appropriate for such a prestigious film festival. She summed up her goals with a quote from Cassavetes: “I have never seen a helicopter explode. I’ve never seen anyone go and blow someone’s head off. So why should I make films about them? But I have seen people destroy themselves in the slightest way. Swift added: “Whoa – I felt this.”
Mills was a totally empathetic host – like the song’s father, he was charmed by his erased jokes. He’s directed videos for The National, so as Swift explained, “We’re both in Aaron Dessner’s cinematic universe, which is a nice place.” She opened up about how inspired she was by Mills’ 2019 short I’m easy to find. They had a perfect rapport – when he praised her storytelling skills, he said, “You’re really good at…” She replied, “Drama?”
They also joked about his tenacious insistence on doing things his own way. She got one of the biggest laughs of the event when she said, “People often greatly underestimate me how embarrassing I’m going to be to prove a point.”
Mills is one performer who is clearly not used to hearing a theater full of screaming fans. As he joked, “That’s how everything my questions and answers go. He was visibly shocked by the enthusiasm of the fans. There was a touching moment when Mills joked that he was going to feel depressed when he mentioned his movies and no one yelled. Swift says, “I’ll show you. Who here has seen a movie called Come onAfter a huge roar from the fans, she told him, “They’re really nice. Not just for me.
She went into detail about her filmmaking process, right down to fonts and camera lenses. “It’s not a music video,” she explained. “We approached everything differently.” In the kitchen scene, she said, “I wanted to be so close that we could count the freckles.” She first became interested in cinema on the sets of her music videos. As she joked, “It started with interference.” His first achievement was his video for “The Man” in 2019. “Once I started making music videos, I didn’t want to not do it.”
She spoke of her identification with the heroine, played by Sadie Sink. “I really write a lot about youth,” she said. “I’m very fascinated and always have been by this phase of becoming a young woman where you are at this very fragile and vulnerable age. I think 19 and 20 is such a profound age for young women. She has describes the heroine as “an effervescent, curious young woman who finds herself completely in over her head”.
Swift pointed out that Easter eggs buried deep in the film, like the red typewriter the heroine uses to write her novel, first appeared in the dude’s apartment. As Swift sees history, the typewriter is a gift he gave her, to encourage her as a writer, as he saw her creative spark early on. It was surprising to hear her talk about her identification with the male character, which she sees as positive as well as negative. Mills added: “It’s a fucked up trip being a guy, let’s be honest. He’s swimming in the dude.
In one of the most startling reveals, she explained how the ending of “All Too Well” was influenced by a 1930s movie classic. That scene of the ex-boyfriend standing in front of the book of the heroine reading, in the cold? Swift was inspired by the final scene of King Vidor’s 1937 film Stella Dallas when Stanwyck has to watch his daughter’s wedding through a window.
(The Swift/Stanwyck ties run deep – one of Barbara’s most underrated mourners is my reputation. FWIW, the movie legend was born in Brooklyn, where the song is set, and died in 1989. I could go on, but let’s just say, now is the perfect time to be a Swiftie who’s also a Stanwyck fan. )
She took out Sink and O’Brien to talk more about the characters. (“I named them Her and Him,” Swift said.) They revealed that crucial scenes — the kitchen argument, the final breakup — were scripted in advance, but when it came time to do the kitchen dialogue, they threw the script. Swift said, “What you saw was mostly improv.”
They also discussed the song’s strange journey, unlike anything else in pop history – an underrated deep cut that turned into a number one hit in its extended version of 10 minutes. As Swift pointed out, it was never a single, “because the label was never going to pick it.” Still, the lost 10-minute version has become an obsession for fans. “I’ve promoted so many albums, done so many tours and met so many people. And every time I was like, ‘When are you going to release the 10-minute version of ‘ All Too Well?’ You just wouldn’t want to give up.
She entered into Pablo Neruda’s quote which serves as her epigraph for the short film: “Love is so short, oblivion is so long.” She called it “a line that haunted me and still haunts me. It’s a violent thing to read something so poignant. (The great Chilean poet was a world legend when he was alive, but even Neruda wouldn’t have Probably never imagined how future generations would literally scream at the sight of his name. One of the house cheerleaders: Jim Jarmusch, one of the most legendary directors. Let’s pray for “Stranger Than Paradise (Taylor’s Version).”)
But the highlight of the event came at the end, when Swift grabbed her acoustic guitar and asked the crowd, “Do you have 10 more minutes?” Unsurprisingly, everyone did. Swift performed the full version of the song, strictly solo, something she was only able to do once when the film premiered last November. (Which was also on Broadway, a few blocks away.) As with the screening of the film, the highlight was the audience shouting, “Fuck the patriarchy!” »
The key line in the “All Too Well” extension is when she asks, “Just between us, did the love affair maim you too.” One of the things that has always set her apart as a songwriter is her unique talent for making even the grandest of stadium-sized gestures feel like an intimate “just between us.” Her Tribeca appearance was a rare in-depth examination of how she achieves this in film, just as she does in music.