Taylor Swift Isn’t Just The Music Industry Anymore


Source: Billboard

Gabriella Madden

Taylor Swift is the music industry.

— Barbara Walters

No truer words have ever been spoken by Barbara Walters in 2014 when she said, “Taylor Swift is the music industry.” At the time, Swift was in the middle of what was her biggest era yet- releasing the pop mega-hit album “1989.” She was breaking record after record with “Shake It Off”, and for being 24 years old, she was on an entirely different level than her other 20-something peers in music. Eight years later, she’s continued defying expectations and shifting from genre to genre effortlessly. But Swift is starting to shift gears into becoming an all-out force in both music and film. 

In 2019, Swift made her directorial debut by co-directing the music video for her song “ME!” with Dave Meyers. Swift, who had long been involved in the treatments of her videos, wanted to branch out and try something new that would challenge her. During the subsequent “Lover” era, she either co-directed or was the sole director for her videos. “The Man,” her first solo directorial debut, won the VMA for Best Direction in 2020. The music videos for “cardigan” and “willow” were also directed by Swift. All of her self-directed videos received rave reviews from critics.

In case anyone started to doubt her, Swift decided to take it up a notch, again. In 2021, before the highly anticipated release of “Red: Taylor’s Version,” she announced a brand new music video. But it wasn’t like the music videos of the past; it was a full-fledged short film based on “All Too Well: 10 Minute Version.” Titled “All Too Well: The Short Film,” Swift wrote and directed it, which starred Sadie Sink, Dylan O’Brien and herself. 

Just like the song itself, the film was a smash hit. It received universal acclaim, praising the artist’s writing and direction, the acting chops of Sink and O’Brien, and the cinematography by Director of Photography Rina Yang. For a brief moment in time, it was the number one highest-rated film on the social film site Letterboxd and has achieved 77 million views on YouTube. So far, it has won one Art Directors Guild Award, and three VMAs, for Best Longform Video, Best Direction and Video of the Year. 

The dominance of “All Too Well” is far from over. The short has completed an Oscar-qualifying run in theaters to be considered for the 2023 awards. Swift went on a mini-tour of film festivals over the summer, making stops at Tribeca and Toronto to discuss her creative process behind bringing the film to life and what’s next. As fall festival season comes to a close and awards season begins ramping up, this isn’t “The Last Time” (no pun intended) Swift will be promoting and receiving awards for the film. 

As for what’s next for Director Taylor Swift? On Oct. 21, 2022, Swift released her 10th studio album “Midnights,” and along with it, she released two new music videos, “Anti-Hero” and “Bejeweled”. 

Both videos were self-written and directed, complete with co-stars such as Laura Dern, Mike Birbiglia and the Haim sisters. “Anti-Hero” featured Swift’s biggest insecurities, played by herself in various scenarios at a dinner party, learning life lessons, and even at her own funeral. At the end, however, all the Taylors come together and enjoy a bottle of wine, content with being, well, the “Anti-Hero.”

“Bejeweled” is a take on the classic “Cinderella” fairy tale, filled with easter eggs alluding to future “Taylor’s Version” albums and features some dazzling outfits. This video ends with Swift standing on the balcony of a castle, surrounded by three dragons, which could be an allusion to “Speak Now,” her third album, her three cats or maybe her favorite “Game of Thrones” character, Daenerys Targaryen. 

Swift keeps pushing herself creatively, and her journey from music video treatments to full fledged short films is truly one to admire. After all of those “Speak Now: Taylor’s Version” easter eggs in the “Bejeweled” music video, and how she loves to challenge herself, it’s only logical to presume that the next step is a full feature-length film based on “Dear John: Taylor’s Version”.