“I have always loved certain films during certain phases I was in musically,” the songwriter said while appearing at TIFF.

Taylor Swift may be fairly new to filmmaking, but she knows cinema all too well.

The singer-songwriter elaborated on the movies that inspired her short film, All Too Well, her first directorial effort beyond music videos. Swift cited 1970s romances as her primary influence on her visual style and the short's aesthetic. "In my mind, there was this period in the '70s where we started seeing these romantic films where these two characters are so intimately woven together, and then they just unravel the braid right in front of you," she explained, before citing titles. "The Way We Were, Love Story, Kramer vs. Kramer — just hitting those emotional touchstones... those films punch me in the stomach and hit."

Swift also listed some more modern titles that helped inspire All Too Well, specifically Noah Baumbach's Marriage Story and Joanna Hogg's The Souvenir, Parts One and Two.

Returning to the '70s, she went on to cite Barbra Streisand's apartment in The Way We Were as highly influential on the short's production design. "Barbra Streisand, when you look at her apartment, that's who she is," Swift explained. "I wanted Her's apartment to be her. I wanted it to look like who she is, and I wanted the same for his space. Clean and cool, and mature. Minimalist, Sophisticated. Sexy."

When it came to the short's overall look, specifically its use of autumnal tones — muted oranges, warm browns, shimmering golds — Swift turned to a classic tearjerker. "I wanted this short film to feel like autumn," she said. "I referenced the film Love Story, and when I think of that film, I think of autumn. I just do. I was trying to establish that in the earlier parts of the short film. When they're falling in love, I wanted it to feel warmer."

THE WAY WE WERE, from left, Barbra Streisand, Robert Redford, 1973; Taylor Swift - All Too Well: The Short Film 75,211,365 views Premiered Nov 12, 2021 Written & Directed by: Taylor Swift ; LOVE STORY, Ryan O'Neal, Ali MacGraw, 1970
Taylor Swift's movie inspirations.
| Credit: Everett; Taylor Swift/YouTube; Everett

Turning to film classics is nothing new for Swift. She explained how songwriting has always been as much a visual as a lyrical or auditory process for her, noting that each of her albums generally reflects a period of a particular cinematic obsession or influence in her life. "I have always loved certain films during certain phases I was in musically," she noted.

For her first deep foray into outright pop, 1989, it was '80s cultural touchstones — the films of writer-director John Hughes (specifically, Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club). Then, in the isolating early days of the pandemic, she immersed herself in the work of Guillermo Del Toro, his fairy-tales and fascination with myth spurring her to write Folklore (with a hint of Rear Window's voyeurism tossed in for good measure). "I did experience combining some of those cinematic experiences, so you end up with an album that is me telling stories from other people's perspectives as folk tales," she said.

She dipped even further into the world of period pieces next. "The next record I was nonstop watching Sense and Sensibility, the Ang Lee one," she said. "That was for an album called Evermore. I have very specific film memories for things."

Swift may be one of the most influential songwriters of her generation, but it turns out she's also a cinephile.

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