I Saw The TV Glow Director Talks Getting Its Phoebe Bridgers Cameo, And Who They Approached First For Banger ‘Teen Angst’ Soundtrack

 Phoebe Bridgers performing "I Know The End" on Late Night with Seth Meyers in 2020, holding a microphone with blue light on her face.
Phoebe Bridgers performing "I Know The End" on Late Night with Seth Meyers in 2020, holding a microphone with blue light on her face.

SPOILERS are ahead for I Saw The TV Glow.

I Saw The TV Glow seeks to emulate writer/director Jane Scheonbrun's teen years being glued to a television screen in their darkest hours for the comfort of its grain. Along with the coming-of-age movie being inspired by Buffy The Vampire Slayer, as Scheonbrun told us, they were also inspired by the music of the 1990s and 2000s, which were often featured in commercials and whilst tuning into MTV.

Midway through I Saw The TV Glow, Justice Smith’s Owen and Brigette Lundy-Paine’s Maddie find themselves in a club where none other than Grammy-winning Phoebe Bridgers and Sloppy Jane’s Haley Dahl go on to sing an original song called “Claw Machine.” It’s an emotionally-gutting sequence that speaks to the themes of the drama that critics have been raving about.

How Phoebe Bridgers Ended Up In I Saw The TV Glow

When CinemaBlend spoke to Jane Scheonbrun about the making of the movie, I asked the filmmaker when “Claw Machine” first entered their ears. Here’s what they said:

Before we shot the film, I had written it into the script with fake lyrics and I just knew that I really wanted us to kind of cut into this club right around the halfway point of the movie. I kind of had this idea of like this song has a texture that brings you to this new space right at this very crucial moment in the film when Maddie and Owen have reconnected. And I knew that was where the titular line would be. I knew that the first line of that song had to be, ‘I Saw the TV Glow’ and was a huge fan of Phoebe’s and of Haley’s and got in touch with them and kind of pitched them on it. I made them a playlist called ‘Interior Goth Club’ of the kinds of teen angst songs that I had imagined. And Haley just started sending me voice notes of Claw Machine and it was really kind of all there from the very beginning in this, even though I think it was just like her on piano, it was still like this incredibly orchestral [song]. I remember listening to demos of it with the crew. Like when we were on location scouts, I remember my DP Eric going, ‘this is a hit’. And I just like, ‘Yeah, I agree.’

The writer/director had a vision in their head to have a song in the middle of the movie, but they left things to Phoebe Bridgers and Haley Dahl to really bring it all to life with their musical skills. You can check out the song in the YouTube clip below:

When the movie’s casting was initially announced, Phoebe Bridgers was among the names listed, but we had no idea how she would play in the movie. Bridgers hasn’t really acted aside from in her music videos, and as it turns out, she only contributes her hauntingly beautiful voice to a single sequence. As Scheonbrun shared, she does have a key role in the film, especially considering their song includes the title of the movie.

Who I Saw The TV Glow’s Director Approached First For Its Soundtrack

Aside from Sloppy Jane and Phoebe Bridger’s notable cameos in I Saw The TV Glow, the soundtrack is full of talented artists, and the movie very much puts its music at the forefront. During our interview, I also asked the filmmaker who they approached first. In their words:

Great question. Well, I was working with Alex [G] from the very beginning on the score because he was my composer on my last film. And, I wanna work with him anytime he wants to work with me. He's a genius. I think the first person, 'cause I had wanted to meet an artist named Francis Quinlan, who's in a band called Hopalong. Just was a huge fan of that band for a long, long time. And I knew that them and Alex were friends. And so I think early on I just asked Alex for an intro to Francis and a few of the other artists I had crossed paths with in various iterations. I remember Drab Majesty was another early one where I was like, that's the vibe of the movie. And it was also just a collaboration with A24, of really working with them and brainstorming artists that we both thought would be really exciting. So, it kind of happened organically.

Caroline Polachek, King Woman, Jay Som and Bartee Strange are also among the artists that make up I Saw The TV Glow’s banger soundtrack. It was clearly a huge component of the movie and one that was personal to Jane Scheonbrun.

I Saw The TV Glow is now playing in theaters. You can check out CinemaBlend’s review of I Saw The TV Glow along with what other upcoming 2024 movies are on the way.