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My Creative Hero: Tom Cruise



Michał Sęk, creative director at 180heartbeats + JUNG v MATT on his growing 'relationship' with Tom Cruise and how epic budgets make for amazing work

My Creative Hero: Tom Cruise

In 15 years in advertising Michał had the pleasure of working with the greatest minds of the industry, holding senior positions at Saatchi & Saatchi, DDB and JWT. He created campaigns for iconic brands such as Netflix, Google, innogy and IKEA, just to name a few. Working for virtually every industry Michał received over eighty national and international awards, including Ad Creators Club Agency Of The Year in 2021, with 180heartbeats JUNG v MATT. Here, Michał explains why Tom Cruise is his creative hero.

LBB> Who would you say is your creative hero?

Michał> Name one bad movie with Tom Cruise. Exactly. You can’t.

LBB> How long has he been important to you and what are your first memories of meeting him or coming across his work?

Michał> I remember watching Top Gun in the late 1980s and since that famous 4G inverted dive with a mig-28 at a range of two meters, nothing seemed to be impossible. But it wasn’t the only encounter with the greatest actor of all times. The same period was fruitful with a few other cinematic classics: The Color of Money, Cocktail, Days of Thunder, A Few Good Man, Far and Away, just to name a few. The closest I got that inverted flight was when in 1998 I was riding the Top Gun Jet Coaster at Six Flags, NJ.  


LBB> If it’s someone you personally know, how did you get to know him and how has your relationship evolved over the years? If you don’t know him, how did you go about finding to learn more about him and his work?

Michał> I learned about Tom Cruise's works from the silver screen. Our ‘relationship’ grew with years, when new movies were coming out. I’m not sure if Cruise is following my work as I am following his, but let’s face it, not everything has to be about me. All I can do to make this ‘relationship’ more official is share with the world my official Tom Cruise fan page on Facebook, where I write movie reviews and make ratings based on how Cruise would fit into them. It’s called Cruise Control. So far 44 fans and counting.

LBB> Why is he such an inspiration to you? 

Michał> Tom Cruise’s movies are always a reminder that we take full responsibility for our work. It’s not only about talent, but about how we work with our set of skills and about constantly improving ourselves. He proves how important storytelling is. And to tell a great story we need to actually know what we are talking about. We need to do our homework. Some of his work seems to be dangerously close to the reality of advertising and the media environment some of us know so well. When Jerry Maguire, a sports agent played by Cruise, writes his manifesto, you can feel it’s much more about any of us, than just some fictional character. Are we fighting for a quality or a quantity in our work? What happens when we try to go against the crowd? Are we able to risk everything we’ve been working on for so long to prove our point? That’s what Jerry did. And then he took the impossible task of rebuilding what he once had. Let that sink in. 

LBB> How does he influence you in your approach to your creative work? 

Michał> Tom Cruise is pushing the boundaries of his craft. One of the most profound examples in this field is the famous high altitude, low opening jump (HALO) from 'Mission: Impossible - Fallout'. One could argue that it is not an actor's job to know how to execute a night HALO jump. But not Tom Cruise. He just took on the task and practised the never done before shot. He had to fit into a three minute window, just after the sunset, to fly down and be within three feet of the lens while the cameraman was constantly pulling focus in mid-air. To make that happen Tom Cruise created a true team environment, one that he pushes for excellence and never takes anything for granted. He emphasizes he is working with people with much bigger experience in different fields to improve his skills. Doesn’t it sound like a recipe for a good work environment in different industries? I think very much so. 

LBB> What piece or pieces of his work do you keep coming back to and why?

Michał> Not only innovation and epic budgets stand behind the amazing work of Cruise. Amazing storytelling is what stands at the heart of the best works of Tom Cruise. One of the most exceptional examples of that is ‘Far and Away’ (spoiler alert!). A timeless classic love story from 1992, directed by Ron Howard. It reminds me that anything is possible when you put your mind and heart to it. The story about a young Irish man and his dream of owning land at the big give-away in Oklahoma ca. 1893. He leaves Ireland with his landlord's daughter (played by Nicole Kidman) after some trouble with her father. When you watch the struggling couple traveling through the country, not being afraid to try and reach for their destiny, you really understand there are some things in life that are worth living for. And when the hero played by young Cruise is finally claiming the land he understands, all he was looking for was always next to him. The promised land means nothing to him, if he can’t share it with the girl - a love of his life. ‘Far and Away’ teaches us that even the simplest story, where a boy meets a girl, can be told in an original way, time and time again.

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180heartbeats + JUNG v. MATT, Thu, 05 Aug 2021 08:31:05 GMT