Category Archives: Feature Story

Will “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” Be The Next Interactive Cinematic Phenomenon? A Preview and Primer

[Update: Here’s the film review.]

Not since perpetual screenings of 1975’s cult musical indie The Rocky Horror Picture Show, for which costumed moviegoers with ritualistic call-backs literally bring rice, newspapers, frankfurters, squirt guns and more and break out into “Time Warp” choreography in unison, has a movie theatre event been so poised to prompt audiences into a frenzy of interactivity. I am hereby dubbing Taylor Swift The Eras Tour, the indie concert movie coming October 13, 2023, The Taylor Swiftie Picture Show and bring you some perspective and tips to prepare for the full bejeweled majesty of the interactive experience (and you know I love musicals!)

As most of us were about to let the proverbial month of August slip away like a bottle of wine, it was announced on the last day of that fateful month that footage captured during pop princess and prolific songwriter Taylor Swift’s Los Angeles leg of her record-breaking concert tour was actually a secret movie made outside the Hollywood studio system and would soon screen across the U.S. via AMC Theatres and other multiplexes as a near-three-hour concert movie. Here’s the trailer. What a treat for all those who couldn’t afford the live concert or get the in-demand tickets! But is the singer ready for her close-up? Swift is no stranger to the screen, all the way back to the 2009 Hannah Montana: The Movie days with fellow child star Miley Cyrus. Swift has starred in a documentary about her political awakening and has had small parts in pedigreed movies:  I am one of the few cheerleaders of the guilty-pleasure Cats but not of the smarmy drama Amsterdam, although the getaway car sequence toward the beginning will turn some heads. This new Eras concert movie will undoubtedly be the ingenue breakthrough for a woman who has already broken live concert records globally. Based on pre-sales alone, Taylor Swift, already a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, will now be one of the biggest movie stars of the year, and her movie was actually lensed in L.A., it turns out, so maybe it was kinda made in Hollywood. Normally it wouldn’t be good karma to spoil the ending, but many have already followed along and know the set list, but here are ten tips to “Make the friendship bracelets, take the moment and taste it” and enhance your in-theatre experience:

  1. Costumes are a big part of the experience as fans (self-proclaimed “Swifties!”) sport clothing and accoutrements based on the various “eras” of the country crossover artist’s legendary young career, so whether it’s a glittery heart around the eye as a nod to the Lover album or an homage to the cottage-core of her mid-pandemic works, determine what you’ll wear to the affair.
  2. Some longtime fans paint a blue “13” on their hands in honor of Taylor’s favorite number (the film even premieres on this “lucky” day!) During the “Fearless” era, Swift scribed the blue 13 on her guitar-strumming hand.
  3. Friendship bracelet sharing is a thing to add to the communal experience. I found some fun ones on Etsy that I have ready to trade. My favorite has little letters spelling “Starbucks” in honor of a sometimes misunderstood lyric in the song “Blank Spaces.”
  4. There will be merch, so plan for long lines to snag those commemorative popcorn tubs and tumblers. One to use and one to collect?
  5. Plan to flash a light to honor the legacy of Taylor Swift’s opera singing grandmother during the emotional song “Marjorie” with lessons from her titular relative.
  6. There will be more call-backs than there were in Polyester by John Waters (movie with a famous Odorama scratch and sniff card). Plan on chants at the bridge of “Cruel Summer,” a double-clap during “You Belong with Me,” a triple-clap on the beat before “My ex-man brought his new girlfriend” during “Shake It Off,” the audience refrain “1,2,3, Let’s Go, B*tch!” during “Delicate” (right after “You can make me a drink…”) and much more chronicled on sites such as Bustle. There’s even a moment during “Anti-Hero,” when the audience may re-assure the songstress “Taylor, You’ll Be Fine.”
  7. It’s been a year of female empowerment, with the success of Barbie and all, so expect a loud unison of “F*** the patriarchy!” during the 10-minute song “All Too Well.” As that song is largely believed to be about a relationship with a certain Oscar nominated actor named Jake, you may also see some not-so-flattering homemade t-shirts about the thespian or even the scarf he allegedly never gave back to Taylor after their brief relationship.
  8. During the song “Bejeweled,” when Taylor sings the word “shimmer,” fans flutter their fingers. You kinda have to study TikTok for some of these!
  9. There’s a part of the live concert with secret songs surprising nightly audiences, so there are several tunes from the multi-day L.A. stint to choose from – although it doesn’t appear this will be like the movie Clue with different variations of film prints to stimulate multiple trips to the theatre. Those multiple viewings will likely happen for fans anyway!
  10. Most of all, have fun! There’s a long tradition of movie gimmickry designed to lure fans into movie houses, from 3-D and Cinerama to “The Tingler.” In this case, consider the fans already lured. This is your chance to make the next in-person sensation akin to the sing-along version of The Sound of Music or taking a page out of the customs invented by those Rocky Horror fans who have sung and danced in the aisles for nearly 50 years.

In some cases, tickets are still available for Taylor Swift The Eras Tour, the movie. Good luck to the multiplex ushers and cleaning crews, and pick up after yourself so nobody will say “This is why we can’t have nice things.”

Feature Story: 12 Stellar Animals Pose for Planetary Change

Joel Sartore’s larger than life images of animals – especially endangered species – have been made iconic projected on world monuments such as The Empire State Building and The Vatican in the documentary Racing Extinction, and an Atlanta-based foundation is honoring the anthropomorphic auteur for his work to capture and share portraits of every animal on earth and to mobilize people into action to protect them.

On the eve of being honored as Captain Planet Foundation’s “Exemplar,” for his life’s work, famed photographer and National Geographic fellow Sartore proclaimed, “We are the last generation that can save our full complement of species.” He said the Internet gives everyone unprecedented access and power to make a hyperlocal difference saving animal species and preserving biodiversity.

Based on the animated TV series in its name, Captain Planet Foundation was co-founded in 1991 by Ted Turner and producer Barbara Pyle and helps make grants to and operates hands-on environmental education projects that serve children in 50 U.S. states and 26 countries. One of its programs, Project Hero, challenges kids to save endangered pollinator species in Georgia, California, Colorado and Texas. The foundation’s annual gala is Atlanta’s largest environmental education fundraiser and assembles game changers in helping save the earth and its resources.

In an interview at the gala, Sartore – whose book National Geographic The Photo Ark: One Man’s Quest to Document the World’s Animals makes a great holiday gift – shared details about a dozen of the magnificent creatures he’s encountered and chronicled.

The brown throated three-toed sloth “always looks happy; and because he’s slow-moving, he’s easy to photograph.” Photo: Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark at PanAmerican Conservation Association

This exquisite, vulnerable juvenile mandrill “saw himself for the first time in my lens.” Photo: Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea

“We laid out white paper, and this Sumatran tiger laid right down and knew just how to pose, paws crossed.” Photo: Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark at Miller Park Zoo

“This giant anteater and her baby are amazingly special beings that consume ants and termites.” Photo: Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark at Caldwell Zoo, Tyler, Texas, USA

“I photographed the hawksbill sea turtle at a rehab center. Most are in trouble, many captured in fishing nets.” Photo: Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark Xcaret, Mexico, North America

“This solenodon was rather irritated, awakened from a nap.” Photo: Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark at Parque Zoologico Nacional

The Fiji banded iguana is quite rare. The photographer smiled: “Reptiles stand still.” Photo: Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark at Los Angeles Zoo

There are few volcano rabbits, like this one from Mexico, left in the world: “They live on a slope with limited range.” Photo: Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark at Chapultepec Zoo

Joel Sartore calls the red wolf “a remarkable success story. We were down to just 20 of them, and they were saved by a conservation program.” Photo: Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark at the Great Plains Zoo

The spectral tarsier is nocturnal, “so he posed with those big eyes in the dark.” Photo: Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark at Night Safari

“This critically endangered Sumultran orangutan is female, and she arrived in the white room ready for her close-up.” Photo: Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas

“We put up our light to photograph the weeper capuctin, and he grabbed a banana before preparing to dramatically pose.” Photo: Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark at Summit Municipal Park


Sartore urges individuals to #SaveTogether by eating less meat (the production of this food product is energy intensive), eliminating lawn chemicals that permeate soil and watching how you spend money: many products are made from old growth tropical forest wood or palm oil that specifically harms orangutans and birds. He also encourages support of zoos and aquariums, where some animals only exist in abundant human care. “When we quit caring about nature, we stop saving it,” he said.

Sartore has photographed 7,500 of 15,000 captive species to date and estimates 12 more years to fully complete Project Ark. He captures portraits on black and white backgrounds with signature eye contact to help make the animals even more relatable to humans: “All animals get an equal voice.” Some of those animals are now extinct, such as the Rabbs’ fringe-limbed tree frog, who died of old age in his loving home at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

Among Sartore’s contemporary inspirations are Ted Turner, who manages midwestern ranches, Laura Turner Seydel, with whom he serves on Defenders of Wildlife, and his fellow Conservation International board-mate Harrison Ford, who wrote the forward to his book.

Get involved at and explore to help #SaveTogether. Sartore’s book is now available everywhere.