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The Work That Made Me: Tomek Suwalski

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Director and screenwriter at Platige Image on how Star Wars inspired him and his amazing work on high-profile video game trailers

The Work That Made Me: Tomek Suwalski

Tomek Suwalski is a director and screenwriter with 17 years of experience in the film industry and a strong writing and visual effects background. His projects include short films, music videos, commercials, and cinematic game trailers. Tomek has worked for developers and publishers like Activision, Ubisoft, Techland, SEGA, and Deep Silver. He was responsible for creating the reveal trailers for Metro Exodus, Dying Light 2 and Tom Clancy's The Division 2. His work was awarded at Young Director Award, Animago, Ciclope, Epica, Vega, Webby, etc. Besides filmmaking, he writes fiction and comic books.

 

The ad/music video from my childhood that stays with me…

I'm an MTV-era kid (when MTV was still playing music, as we say now), and at the time (and I guess till this day) I was totally impressed with the works of Chris Cunningham, Michel Gondry and Spike Jonze. Cunningham especially, all the music videos for Aphex Twin were eye-openers for me (and almost everything that came from under the Warp Records label). Unfortunately, Cunningham did not become as successful as Jonze or Gondry and never made a feature, although he was attached to adapt Neuromancer and one time, which could've been mesmerizing. I also need to mention the Tool music videos from their guitarist Adam Jones. The combination of symbolic and bizarre used in them is genuinely captivating and put a strong mark on me.


The ad/music video/game/web platform that made me want to get into the industry…

I guess it was Star Wars, as I imagine it was for most people of my generation. A pretty generic choice, but I constantly re-watched the original trilogy through my childhood and was around when Episode One was coming up (regarding how it turned out). I remember all the buzz it generated, and I was feeling totally immersed in the waiting experience, like a new chapter of my life was about to begin, which is so hard to duplicate now for a cynical adult. But my thinking was that I'd love to make people feel the same way, to create something everyone's waiting for, something everyone has high hopes for and considers an essential part of their lives. That's on the 'marketing' side of things, being a fanboy of the industry and the hype it generates. On the "content" side of things, I guess the films of David Lynch were the most influential to me at the time. For the first time, I realised how close the filmmaking is to "dream-making," literally following the uncatchable illogic of dreams we're experiencing, and how this experience can be crafted and immersed in a non-dreaming state, being wide awake in a theatre room. Dreams, exploring the unknown and hidden aspects of the psyche, the dark side of the soul all resonated with me very much, and that's what I still like to explore.


The creative work (film/album/game/ad/album/book/poem etc) that I keep revisiting…

Nowadays, the current 'tone' I must get myself into, changes from project to project. But on a general note, in literature, I always keep coming back to my teenage idols – Philip K. Dick, H.P. Lovecraft, William Gibson. For films, I keep revisiting Tarkovsky, Von Trier, Kubrick and movies like ‘Eyes Wide Shut’, ‘Memento’ or ‘Sicario’ (I've watched the 'Mexican border sequence' like a million times). The shows that I keep coming back to the most for TV are probably ‘Mr. Robot’ and ‘Devs’, which are tonally so perfect, as one of these "I wish I did it myself" things. Also, ‘Knight of Cups’ and ‘Tree of Life’, Terrence Malick's films are so unique in style, like visual poetries, and reflections; they also tap into filmmaking's 'dream-making' side. Following that, most movies lensed by Deakins or Lubezki, for example ‘The Revenant’ is possibly the film I referenced visually the most over the years in my director's treatments.


My first professional project…

I consider this short film below, which I did in 2006 but released on the internet in 2011. I still like to show it around.


The piece of work (ad/music video/ platform…) that made me so angry that I vowed to never make anything like *that*…

Oh. There's so many; I don't even know where to start!


The piece of work (ad/music video/ platform…) that still makes me jealous…

Again – so many, it's hard to count. I consider my "top 10" to be quite popular recent movies like Memento, Enemy, Arrival, Sicario, Tenet, Dune, Fight Club, the forenamed Mr. Robot, and Devs. All these works I wish I did myself. But they also seem like a moonshot, something completely unreachable. Also, everything that comes out from A24 studio makes me pretty jealous…


The creative project that changed my career…

I guess it's still Artyom's Nightmare, a short film done for Metro Exodus. 

This one got me the most awards, publicity, and recognition. And I'm still flattered and humbled when it comes back in the new creative briefs as a work of reference.


The work that I’m proudest of…

Is hopefully still ahead of me.


I was involved in this and it makes me cringe…

I can’t tell! 


The recent project I was involved in that excited me the most…

It's the cinematic trailer for Dying Light 2, a blockbuster triple-A game from Techland, that just came out. 

Despite it being commercial work, some people came back to me saying it was "very much my style," which is nice to hear.


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Platige Image, Tue, 15 Feb 2022 15:22:00 GMT