By Natalie Belsha | 2 August, 2022
“i think 19 and 20 is really such an interesting age for women because you have one foot still in girlhood while society is saying, “no you’re an adult””
On June 11th I sat five feet away from Taylor Swift, with a press pass on my neck. Traveling to New York City to cover one of the most prestigious film festivals in America was not something I ever thought I would do, but there I was. I was surrounded by thousands of adoring fans, each and every one of them hanging onto every word she said. It was at this moment when I realized that this was happening.
I have always been quiet and introverted, relating specifically to “The Outside” and “Tied Together With a Smile” from Taylor’s debut album. I was lucky enough to have parents who not only bought me tickets to Taylor Swift concerts, but screamed alongside me at the show. As I grew up, I started to step outside of my comfort zone more and more, Taylor Swift always on the sidelines with me. Little middle school me was always loud and proud about her love for Taylor Swift and this continues to follow me to this day. It was this love and passion that inspired me to apply for a press pass for the Tribeca Film Festival. It was during these countless years of “stanning” Taylor Swift that I discovered the most about myself. It was my Junior year of college when I realized I could make something out of my experience and love for music. My years of crying to “Dear John” and screaming “New Romantics” could turn into a career.
When Taylor walked on stage in a navy vest suit, the crowd went wild. Everyone was on the edge of their seats, listening to every word she said very carefully. Mike Millis, the moderator, kept making comments like, “wow, this is like a concert” and Taylor would reply, “I know, aren’t [the fans] amazing?”. Taylor made everyone feel welcomed and loved, and never in my eleven years of stanning Taylor Swift did I ever feel unwanted or unappreciated by her. She truly values our opinions and wants to shape our journey together. She said:
“I’m just trying to listen to the heartbeat of what the fans want. It’s so exciting to have gotten to do this for this long and have this many memories. I’m just kind of listening along and having fun and making stuff. It’s very cool that they want me to keep doing it.”
She even mentioned the whole reason she released “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)” was because the fans kept asking for it to be released. She thanks the fans for allowing her to experiment with her creative and directorial roles.
The first music video Taylor directed was “The Man”. She was looking for a female director, but all of them were booked so she thought she might give directing a try. After her directorial debut, Taylor realized her love for directing and allowed herself to be vulnerable in a new way. She told Mike Millis, “It was a vulnerable moment where you’re sort of on the precipice of finding something new and you’re just really hoping you do everything perfectly.” When it comes to women in professional positions, they are frequently treated differently than men. For example, a female director who knows what she wants on set is made out to be a diva. Taylor Swift specifically mentions this issue in the lyrics of “The Man” when she brings up the double standards women face everyday. That is why it was so amazing to hear Taylor speak about her directing experience for the All Too Well (10 Minute Version) Short Film. She admits that she knew what she wanted, and she commanded the room. Taylor has always faced this double standard throughout her life. When she was just nineteen, magazines scrutinized her love life while the same was not true for her male peers.
“All Too Well (10 Minute Version)” was an even bigger challenge, as this was a short film that had been brewing for years. She acknowledges the fact that women face disadvantages when it comes to creating films. She states, “I have to constantly be aware that as much as it’s an exciting challenge to do this, I also understand it’s extremely hard for women to make films and always keeping one eye on that reality. It’s how lucky I am to even get to go near a camera.” She notes that she is a very collaborative director and credits a lot of the song’s success to Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien’s acting and passion for the project. Sadie and Dylan took the stage alongside Taylor, and reaffirmed what her fans already knew deep down: Taylor, while a commanding director, is full of compassion and love. They mentioned how they could truly feel the magic in the air on set and how everyone was one hundred percent dedicated to the project. After a heartwarming conversation with Sadie, Dylan, and Taylor, Taylor grabbed her guitar and performed All Too Well (10 Minute Version).
Sitting in a sold out theatre with thousands of Swifties who were just as passionate about Taylor as me was an amazing experience. Getting to scream the words to All Too Well (10 Minute Version) alongside them, is something that words cannot be described. The crowd screamed “F*** the patriarchy” and “I’ll get older but your lovers stay my age” and Taylor giggled in response. The love in that room was overwhelming and I felt a sense of pride for choosing to stan Taylor Swift. No one knows the artist like the fans do and Taylor is always listening, putting the fans first.