In a recent interview at the Tribeca International Film Festival (TIFF), Taylor Swift revealed that her short film, All Too Well, would never have been made without actor Sadie Sink. The short film brings to screen Swift’s 2012 song by the same name. It stars Sink as Her opposite Teen Wolf star Dylan O’Brien as Him.
Swift originally wrote the song based on personal experiences. (It is largely believed the song is about her relationship with Jake Gyllenhaal.) However, when writing Her, Swift says it was Sink alone who she saw in the role.
Taylor Swift’s ‘All Too Well’ short film began with a long text message
Ever the lyricist and poet, Swift tells TIFF Originals that casting All Too Well was less of a distinct decision and more based on her instinct. She said Sink and O’Brien were “what her heart needed.”
“I was writing it for Sadie,” Swift says in the interview. “And if she would have said ‘no,’ I just don’t know if I would have made the film.”
The “Red” singer was unsure if Sink, known for her work on Stranger Things, the Fear Street franchise, and The Whale, would be interested in playing a romantic lead. So Swift reportedly sought out Sink through her representation. Meanwhile, she sent O’Brien a long text message detailing her hopes for the project.
Both actors reportedly jumped at the opportunity, something Swift says made her relieved. “You want to make things with people that want to make things with you,” says Swift, with disarming humility. (Who wouldn’t want to make things with the Grammy-award-winning singer, songwriter, producer, actor, and now short-film director?)
Reactions to Taylor Swift’s ‘All Too Well’
Swift’s All Too Well was a daring creative pursuit, bridging the distance between music and film in a new way. “This is not a music video,” Swift told Variety when introducing the project at the festival. And she is correct.
Not a music video and not a traditionally-scripted film, Swift’s All Too Well is a story in a new format — new artistry yet unnamed.
The short film’s avant guard appeal is achieved through extreme close-ups and sparsely-scripted scenes that occur (sometimes audibly, other times not) while Swift’s song “All Too Well” plays.
This breaks from the glossy, practiced shots traditionally found in music videos. It also avoids the typically scripted dialog of short films. The result is two-fold and at once a raw, intimate visual experience of the song while also a lyrical exploration of the film.
The response to Swift’s All Too Well has been overwhelmingly positive. Beyond the singer’s well-established (read: humongous) fan base, critics too have applauded Swift’s filmmaking debut.
In a glowing review of the short film, Chloe M. Becker of The Harvard Crimson says, “The film satisfyingly aligns with the song’s lyrics without feeling like a traditional music video, all while carrying a storyline that explores the unbalanced power dynamics of a doomed relationship.”
‘Stranger Things’ actor Sadie Sink on working with Taylor Swift
In a Collider interview (available via YouTube), Sink raves about working with Swift on All Too Well, calling her directing “instinctual.”
Using All Too Well’s pivotal fight scene as an example, Sink recalls Swift giving her and O’Brien full authority over where the scene would go. The scene had little by way of dialogue. Swift gave plenty of room for the actors to fully experience the moment without letting them know when the scene would be cut. The result was the short film’s most applauded scene.
Following All Too Well’s warm reception and critical acclaim, the next logical step for the multi-faceted Swift seems to feature films, an idea Swift has hinted she would be eager to pursue. Yet, whatever Swift’s next project may be, it will likely see great success, a pattern the world has come to know all too well.