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Taylor Swift’s Next Step

The songstress may have her sights set on the big screen.

Taylor Alison Swift has fulfilled just about every dream a songwriter could have on her bucket list. From sold-out stadium tours and her name in the Guinness World Records to winning Grammy, Academy of Country Music, Billboard, Teen Choice, American Music and MTV Music Awards, she is one of the most celebrated artists of all time. Following in the footsteps of other revered songstresses who have gone behind the camera to direct movies, like Barbra Streisand (the first woman director to win a Golden Globe for her 1984 film Yentl) and Madonna, Swift may be about to conquer film.

Swift has been in front of the camera for almost two decades, in her own music videos and in films like Cats, The Giver and Valentine’s Day. She’s also appeared in documentaries like Folklore and Miss Americana, which have chronicled her development on and off the stage.

This may be why she felt ready to take her talents behind the lens, as she did with All Too Well: The Short Film which screened at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. In a June 11th festival interview with Mike Mills, she explained her motivations for writing, producing, and directing the doomed love story. “I think that what I wanted to make was a film about an effervescent curious young woman who ends up completely out of her depth,” she said.

“I’ve been very fortunate to be able to be on sets of music videos for 15 years,” Swift added, “and I was always very curious. I was always looking, learning, and trying to absorb as much as I possibly could… It felt very natural to extend writing a song and visualizing in my head to making a shot list and storyboarding it.”

Swift proved to be in her element managing the project, which stars Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien as star-crossed lovers. Both actors spoke at the film festival panel where Sink praised Swift’s leadership: “This was so different than anything I had done because the room was lit, and you could move wherever you wanted and there wasn’t a set script or movement that you had to stick to. So there was just so much freedom and that’s, I think, how we got such real moments… We didn’t really have to hold anything back.”

Sink is coincidentally linked to another singer-songwriter’s reincarnation. The 20-year-old actress plays Max Mayfield in Netflix’s Stranger Things, and a pivotal scene in which Sink is running for her life over Kate Bush’s 1985 song “Running Up That Hill” has become one of this summer’s most viral clips, earning the hugely influential British music pioneer her first U.S. top ten single.

Swift is currently enjoying some of the same streaming exposure through the popular Amazon series The Summer I Turned Pretty. Swift’s songs “Cruel Summer,” “False God” and “This Love” are all featured in the show. The songs, originally released on Swift’s seventh album Lover, recently re-entered the Billboard Top 40, three years after the album’s release.



Swift has also collaborated with her partner Joe Alwyn, who most recently starred in Hulu’s Conversations with Friends and the film Stars at Noon (which won the Grand Prix at this year’s Cannes Film Festival). The pair co-wrote tracks on Swift’s 2020 album Folklore (which won the Grammy for Album of the Year) and its sister album, Evermore. (Alwyn used the pseudonym William Bowery in both albums’ linear notes). The 31-year-old actor may be offering Swift some film tips in return.

“It would be so fantastic to write and direct something, a feature,” Swift said. “I loved making a film that was so intimate and with a crew that was relatively small and just a really solid crew of people that I trusted.”

All Too Well’s O’Brien sees Swift as a natural auteur. “Taylor’s such a writer-director,” he said. “She’s always been such a storyteller, and I’ve always believed literally one of the truest storytellers of our generation.”