On The Rise of Taylor Swift, Filmmaker | Functions

Although Swift’s fans were surprised by the new 11-minute version of Swift’s standout Oath the track, and the sudden release of an accompanying music video nearly 10 years after the song’s original release, had the filmmaking community in a tizzy for an entirely different reason—the unexpected (or perhaps previously unrecognized) brilliance of Swift’s direction. Nearly a year after the short’s debut — which garnered near-universal acclaim and sparked heavy online debate about the real story behind the infamous red scarf — Swift headed to TIFF earlier this month to screen “All Too Well” for the first time in its original 35mm print and to provide insight into her filmmaking process.

It was immediately apparent listening to Swift talk about the behind-the-scenes work of “All Too Well” that she has a palpable passion for filmmaking and takes real pride whenever her reverence for the industry or tribute to other directors becomes recognized. This was the case during Swift’s conversation with TIFF chief Cameron Bailey, which was peppered with small glimpses of Swift’s relationship with filmmaking and film as an art form.

Swift’s film career has more or less run parallel to her music, editing home videos for her songs (“Christmas Tree Farm”) and also co-directing her music videos (“Lover”, “You Need to Calm Down”) since 2008. But after years of writing treatments and storyboarding, Swift’s first major solo turn in the director’s chair came via the tongue-in-cheek gender-bending music video for the 2020s “The man,” which sees Swift don a suit and heavy prosthetics in a not-so-subtle jab at workplace gender inequality. “The Man” draws visual inspiration from the busy offices of “The Wolf of Wall Street” and has a distinct sense of humor that is frequent in much of Swift’s work, pointing to a self-awareness and levity juxtaposed with the depth of ​​her dramatic lyrics. From man-Taylor peeing glitter all over her older album titles to an endless procession of gloved hands waiting to pat her brutal protagonist on the back – ending the video with a trophy wife gleefully marrying man-Taylor for his money – there’s a wide (bordering on) self-deprecation) that makes Swift’s dramatic visual storytelling compelling without feeling overwrought.

Although lighthearted humor and gleeful rebellion may be the through line of many of the music videos Swift directed Loveher subsequent post, Folklore and its sister album Evermore usher in a more mature, ruminative era of Swift’s music and videos. The video for 2020’s “Cardigan” sees Swift bathed in warm candlelight from the flickering fires of a cobbled cottage before discovering a fantasy world lifted from the pages of “The Chronicles of Narnia.”

Where “The Man” played with visual humor in short, punchy sequences to emphasize the irritating nature of the double standard that plagues Swift’s career compared to her male contemporaries, “Cardigan” takes a more traditional narrative approach in its cinematic language, honoring Folklore inspiration from fairy tales (during the TIFF Q&A, Swift cited influences from Guillermo del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth“and”The Devil’s Backbone” on the album). There’s a cinematic range and tone to “Cardigan” that elevates the video beyond the conventional expectations of a product placement-filled pop video, placing it squarely in the category of a short film set to music.

Related Posts