Taylor Swift reflects on her creative process for 'All Too Well'
by Ana Walia | Tue, 13 Dec 2022 11:08:42 GMT
Taylor Swift and Martin McDonagh for Variety's "Directors on Directors" interview. Image Source: Trendsmap 

Taylor Swift reflects on her creative process.

Songstress turned filmmaker, Taylor Swift, recently sat down with director Martin McDonagh during Variety's "Directors on Directors" interview, where she looked back on her creative process while working on her short film, "All Too Well."

The singer, who announced last week that she will direct her first feature film for Searchlight Pictures, stated that she has always wanted to tell stories and has constantly written stories, poetry, and songs, and she believes that the short film did grow out of that storytelling. She stated that she had been experiencing exactly what the short film depicts, and that time is such an invaluable asset to them when they have these tales to share, especially when they are difficult to share at the time.

Finally, she says it was exhilarating to experience it now that she's in her 30s because she seriously thinks there is a time in everyone's life once they are in their 19s or 20s when their heart is so sensitive to being destroyed, broken, and the sense of identity is so easily lost. Taylor Swift goes on to say that it's an important developmental age, and she wanted to tell the story of girlhood calcifying into wounded adulthood.

Martin McDonagh then asked Taylor Swift to walk him through the process of making "All Too Well," to which she replied that she wrote it knowing she wished it to be a short film and that she desired to approach it different manner than other music videos she had directed (she has directed ten of them). Taylor continued by stating that she want to use a new director of photography, Rina Yang, that she desired to shoot it on 35mm film, and that she wrote it with Sadie Sink and Dylan O'Brien in thought.

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The singer clarified that she had never met Sadie Sink or Dylan O'Brien but had seen their work. She saw Sadie Sink in "Stranger Things" and considered she had such an existence and compassion for her. Taylor claims that micro-emotions flash all over her face in a way she hasn't seen in other performances, and she's never played a romantic lead, so could she be interested in playing a young woman who undergoes her first disastrous and potentially catastrophic heartbreak?

Taylor went on to say that she wrote the script, has reference points for the art direction and has put together some kind of PDF of what she wants to create because she has never directed a short film before, and she is attempting to persuade these two actors, who said yes right away when she texted them. She goes on to say that the script she wrote included conversation and that she scripted out scenes of them falling in love as well as sequences of them falling apart and splitting up.

And then she had this assertion, which they wound up keeping as a scene without music even though she thought it was just as important to get a powerful glimpse into their dynamic. Taylor stated that it was gunned down in one take and that it was one of those magical takes where you don't cut until you're about 85 or 90% through the scene.

Martin then asked Taylor if the dialogue was improvised or her own, to which she replied that it was partly modified, adding that she had written that out fight with the same arc and there were only a few things that Dylan would blurt out or Sadie would say and that she'd sit there thinking, "They are continuing to keep that in the cut." The director asked Taylor if it was instances like that that differentiated the film as a short film and distinguished it from the typical music-video milieu. She responded that it has a plot arc.

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The short film's chapters become chapters in a book she hopes to write one day. It's structured narratively in a way that she felt had to be different from any other music video she'd made, with the added goal of immersing viewers in the world of these two characters. Taylor also revealed that she had a few conversations with Sadie Sink about how she prefers to work in intense and emotional sequences and that she does a lot of prep work on her shows, revealing that she had a song, "Savior Complex," by Phoebe Bridgers, which Martin McDonagh's partner Phoebe Waller Bridge directed, who would always make her cry, that also helped her prepare for the zone where she might look like she had been weeping and the kind of body language

"Does she feel like her songwriting is distinctive now?" the director inquired of the singer. Even if she's talking about an emotional devastation song, is her writing style different now than when she was 22? Taylor responded that she feels freer to create now, and she is releasing more albums at a faster rate than she ever has before because she believes that the more art one creates, the less pressure one puts on themselves. She adds that it's just a phase she's going through right now and that everyone is different. Some people release an album every five years that is brilliant, and that is how they work. And she respects that, but she is happier when she creates things more often. It's sometimes just a line, and she says she'll write it down and use it later. Sometimes she has to go to the piano to record and remember a melody. But the more she writes, the more ideas come to her. She is just just going with the flow.