Tom Cruise holds a Q&A following a screening of 'Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning'
(Han Myung-Gu, WireImage)

Would You Watch Tom Cruise Explain Filmmaking for Six Hours?

The two biggest takeaways from Glen Powell’s recent interview with GQ UK: Clint Eastwood drives a 1990 Lexus, and Tom Cruise made a six-hour movie about making movies that he will only show to his co-stars.

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Six hours is a long time to sit, especially in a movie theater. Even the longest movies these days are rarely over three hours long, and when they are—like Killers of the Flower Moon or Oppenheimer, both arguable masterpieces—there’s heated debate over whether the runtime is justified. You can be one of the greatest filmmakers of all time and people will still roll their eyes if your movie is over two hours long. All of which is to say: I have a hard time believing Glen Powell watched all six hours of Tom Cruise’s Guide To Making Movies (speculative title).

Powell, who co-starred with Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick, shared a few of his experiences working with the blockbuster star and most famous Scientologist—including this anecdote about Cruise’s six-hour “film school” movie:

Cruise sent him to a cinema in LA to watch a “film school” movie he had put together for his friends. Powell expected to be among a crowd – but no, it was just him alone, in an empty theatre. For six hours. Watching Tom Cruise speak directly to the camera, breaking down everything he’s learned about filmmaking over the years. According to Powell, Cruise has no intention of putting it out into the public sphere. “He said, ‘This is just for my friends’.”

In the video, “[Cruise] is like: ‘Do we all agree that this is what a camera is? This is the difference between a film camera and a digital camera…’ The funniest part is on flying. It was like he put together this entire flight school. So he would literally go ‘OK, this is what a plane is. Here’s how things fly. Here’s how air pressure works.’”

I love my friends. I love when they send me little Reels on Instagram (secondhand TikToks) or show me something cuh-razy on YouTube. But I have a life and precious few seconds to spare, so there’s a cap to my attention. If a friend asked me to watch their movie, I’d probably say yes … unless that movie was really just six hours of them explaining cameras and air pressure. That said, if my friend was Tom Cruise, there’s no way in hell I’m not watching six hours of whatever that guy has to say. Scientology be damned.

In fact, it sounds like Cruise is taking a page out of the Scientology playbook with these private screenings of his six-hour “film school” movie. Several years ago, I was visiting New York with a friend when a stranger approached us in Times Square. He handed us a postcard and asked if we’d like to go see a free movie. We were committed to being the absolute worst tourists possible (we went to Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. for dinner), so we said yes to too many things, including the free movie. Which is how we wound up at the Church of Scientology, alone in a small screening room, watching a 30-to-45-minute short film with the production value of an episode of Red Shoe Diaries—surprisingly high. The movie, allegedly based on a true story, was set in the ’60s and followed a football player who broke his leg during a game. He’s devastated and stuck in bed for days (maybe weeks?) until some guy walks in and explains that the real problem is in the football player’s head. All of our obstacles and troubles, including bone fractures, can be overcome by simple thought. His leg was only broken in his mind, you see. After the screening, Scientologists tried to sign us up for courses. I let them add me to a mailing list, which I still regret every time I get a postcard in the mail about Dianetics.

Tom Cruise should probably show the Scientology outreach team his six-hour filmmaking MasterClass.

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Britt Hayes
Britt Hayes (she/her) is an editor, writer, and recovering film critic with over a decade of experience. She has written for The A.V. Club, Birth.Movies.Death, and The Austin Chronicle, and is the former associate editor for ScreenCrush. Britt's work has also been published in Fangoria, TV Guide, and SXSWorld Magazine. She loves film, horror, exhaustively analyzing a theme, and casually dissociating. Her brain is a cursed tomb of pop culture knowledge.