Taylor Swift Talks Overcoming Imposter Syndrome, Making A Feature Film – Taylor Swift is speaking up about struggles as she turns her career trajectory towards music direction.
Taylor Swift Talks Overcoming Imposter Syndrome, Making A Feature Film:
Taylor Swift has big dreams as a filmmaker.
During a screening of All Too Well: The Short Film held at the Beacon Theater in New York City as part of the 2022 Tribeca Festival, Swift spoke about overcoming “imposter syndrome” as a music video director and revealed she’d like to write and direct a full-length feature film in the future.
Speaking to filmmaker Mike Mills, the 32-year-old singer-songwriter opened up about her experience venturing into directing with music videos like “The Man,” “Cardigan,” and “Willow,” and how it led to the creation of All Too Well: The Short Film, which she wrote and directed.
“I was always very curious. I was always looking, and learning, and trying to absorb as much as I possibly could,” she remarked. “A few music videos [into my career], I just started going into the edit, and making changes.
“It started with meddling, and it went from meddling with the edit to then writing the treatments for the music videos… That was almost ten years ago,” recalled Swift, noting that she’d often conceptualize her own music videos before handing the work off to a seasoned director — until 2019’s “The Man.”
After writing its video treatment, she attempted to hire a female director, but none that she knew were available: “All my favorite female directors were booked and busy, which is great. We love that.”
Swift was filming 2020’s Miss Americana documentary at the time, received advice from its director, Lana Wilson, and ended up directing “The Man” herself, which sparked a new creative desire for the singer-songwriter. “Once I started directing music videos, I didn’t not want to do it.”
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However, she had to overcome self-doubt before officially considering herself a director. “I think I had this imposter syndrome in my head saying, ‘No, you don’t do that. Other people do that who went to school to [direct],'” explained Swift.
Mills, 63, then admitted he didn’t go to school for directing either, which relieved Swift. “Oh! It’s fantastic to know that. That makes me feel better,” she said.
“Don’t you feel like it’s an amazing exercise in trusting gut instinct? There are so many decisions you have to make,” continued Swift. “Saying ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I’m not sure’ really isn’t an option most of the time.”
“It can be, if said the right way,” he replied.
“Maybe that’s just being a female director,” Swift quipped.
“I’m in this situation, standing on this stage, talking about a short film I’m incredibly proud of, because I lost all of my work,” Swift said. “I was not able to own my work and I had wanted to since I can remember. It was a very hard time for me.”
But after learning to lean on the support of people who believe in her, Swift says she was able to overcome “moments of extreme grief” and get to a place that “I’m very happy with where my life is now.”
Swift continued by reflecting on the organic success of “All Too Well,” which wasn’t promoted as a single when it was first released a decade ago, and originally included more than half a dozen additional verses. Responding to fans’ demands to hear the full song, Swift released the 10-minute version last year, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
“You guys just wouldn’t let it go,” Swift said, adding that “there’s so much happening in the music industry that’s so exciting. The fans have kind of subverted the label model of ‘we sit in a conference room and we pick the songs you’re going to like.’ You guys are like, ‘No, we don’t want to do that anymore.’ I find it so radical and wonderful, and I’m just trying to listen to the heartbeat of what fans want.”
As for Swift’s future directing ambitions, she teased that she would “love” to direct a full-length movie in the future.
“It would be so fantastic to write and direct a feature,” Swift said. “But I don’t see it being bigger in terms of scale – I loved making a film that was so intimate, with a crew that was relatively small and a really solid group of people that I really trusted.”
In addition to the 50-minute panel talk, Saturday’s event included a screening of “All Too Well” and an acoustic performance of the song’s extended version by Swift.