Music & Entertainment

Audience Feedback

Hans Zimmer

Lesson time 11:38 min

The true test - learn how Hans approaches showing a score to an audience and how he determines if it's working or not.

Hans Zimmer
Teaches Film Scoring
From collaborating to scoring, Hans Zimmer teaches you how to tell a story with music in 31 exclusive video lessons.
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The first and selfish truth is I write for myself. Because the seconds of my life are ticking by, and I want to have a good life. And I want to write music that I like or that I'm interested in. But-- and this goes back 40-odd years, when I was in a band and I was touring in the '80s in England. And times were tough. Margaret Thatcher was in power. And if you went outside London, you went into the working class. You went up into the north, and you saw people working hard and trying to make ends meet. And so weirdly, every night playing in these pubs, you knew you were creating an escape for people. And so somehow over the years, in my mind, I have this fictitious character. She's called Doris. She lives in Bradford. She's of a certain age. She's got two boys, doesn't have a husband. She works really hard every week. Those boys are impossible, by the way. I mean, they're a real pain. She works really hard to try to make ends meet. And at the weekend, she's got a choice. She can either watch the television, or she can go to the cinema. And she plunks down her hard-earned money. And it really is hard-earned money. And life is tough. And she wants to have an experience. Just for two hours, she wants to have an experience that she wouldn't have in her normal life. And I am part of the responsibility of giving her that experience and not short-changing her on her hard-earned money. So yeah, most of it's written for Doris, who doesn't really exist, but completely and utterly exists. I like to do a temp dub. And I like to preview the movie. I like to put the music in front of an audience. And it's got to be a sizable audience. Because if it's just 15 of your best friends, you're never going to learn anything. They're just coming for the free drinks. But if you have 600 people in a room, you know pretty quickly if you overstepped the mark. Gladiator is a good example where when we started out and I had Lisa Gerrard, and her voice, I mean, the studio really didn't like the idea of the voice, just thought, what is a female voice doing in a gladiator movie? And Ridley and I had a very specific point of view about it. So we would literally go-- and we had many screenings where we would test, see-- because the audience really liked it. An audience is-- they just feel things differently. They're there for an experience. I noticed it, of course, most in Inception, that idea of shared dreaming that you get in a cinema. So we would preview it just to see how far we could push it. And there came a point, as well where even I went, hang on a second, OK? We've got to go and pull back a bit. You feel them getting a bit restless. It's not like you just sit there amongst them and-- you know, you've broken some sort of agreement you had with them to stay within the reality of whatever world you cre...

Tell a story with music

Hans Zimmer didn’t see a film until he was 12 years old. Since then, he’s scored over 150 films, including Inception, The Lion King, and The Dark Knight. In his MasterClass, the self-taught Academy Award-winner teaches how he creates sounds from nothing, composes compelling character themes, and scores a movie before ever seeing it. By the end, you’ll have everything you need to start film scoring.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

This class helped me to understand the job of a film composer and showed me how I can work on my projects like I never experienced it before...and, most important: It inspired me to start telling my own story!

Han's taught me things you can't learn in school. Anyone can take a theory class, or a D.A.W. class to learn how to compose in a computer. 5 Stars!

Incredibly insightful!!! Its just amazing the correlations you can draw from this class to be a better leader!

I have learned more than I can possibly type. Really great class.


A fellow student

Our maestro teacher Hans Zimmer live concert in Hong Kong is coming on 26th September 2019. Just 12 days to go. I am going and wonder if there are any classmates I can meet?

Greg U.

admiring mr. zimmer‘s approach (Doris!) and his ability of transforming ideas into high class working entertainment whilst simultaneously convincing the economy driven film business and producers with his outstandig work/perspective and personality - guessing that it was a long journey through HnHell to become such a stellar music innovator

Anthony V.

Yeah, Hanz Zimmer is all class! I’m following his work even closer after following his MasterClass. Fan for life.

Arek Z.

Fantastic class! “You have to have a courage to put it in front of the audience”.

Kenneth S.

That is the best reminder ever... take it in front of an audience, that's how you'll know if you're on-point with THE story. Sounds simple enough, but it's also easy to get comfortable being in the booth... I'm a jazz musician, and when I put something out there, a teaser track, I'm always surprised at what the public reaction is, whichever way it goes, I'm always surprised. A race car might do well at the test track, but you'll never know how good it is until you take it to the race!

Kori C.

I LOVE this. Why I have not thought about getting audience feedback... FACEPALM! Brilliant idea!

Judith M.

There's a moment after explosions of any type, when you just can't hear normally. There is only your heart racing, and quick flashes as scenes go by and your fight or flight instinct cuts in. The continuing explosions are almost not there other than as a muffled sound as you run for cover. Inside you are out of control of the situation. Just as Nero was when he watched Rome burn because the fire was too vast to stop. The fiddle perfectly matches this. Why would that occur to an audience rather than the suits? Some of it is ambience and the rest is instinct for story. Many suits are judging the movie on sales rather than would they personally enjoy it. Now take them out of the screening room, out of the suits. Get then to take their own family along to an anonymous screening at a real movie theatre with good acoustics and the classic darkness that makes all the colours and sound pop. Just as Hans says, there you find the real answers from people like his Doris and from family like my grandmother. The people who instilled a love of the theatre, of music and story into their day to day lives, there you will find the true power of your music or words and if you made a difference to them. Did you hear laughter or sniffles, gasps of dismay or watch people lean forward in their seats egging the heroes on, so enraptured in the movie that for a short amount of time it was real for them. If you did...pat yourself on the back. And if you heard them continuing to hum parts of the music on their way out the door - you've got a winner! The Thatcher years...something remembered through rose tinted glasses by many Brits, but which were actually the beginning of the fall of the Trade Unions and their influence in the UK, huge rises in house prices, high taxation rates, low pay rises, and many other items now swept under the carpet. Culminating in the crippling interest rates on mortgages that led to the house market crash, and negative equity. A hole that took many years for working class Brits to dig themselves out of. The moment when it crosses your mind that you may actually have met Hans and didn't know it...


Music is a natural way to induce trance. If the music builds the trance of the visual then its working. If it breaks the trance change is needed.

Mia S.

"When a bunch of executives say to you, 'We're not sure about this music, I think you're ruining the movie' - you realize that the question is legitimate but the question is the wrong question to ask, because what happens is, they are experiencing it with their preconceived ideas of what this movie is going to be, and all they've ever done is see this movie in a little room, the three or four or five of them, and that's not how an audience experiences it. Once you're in a cinema surrounded by people who actually paid money for it, who have some different investment in it, it's a whole different experience. 'I'll change anything you want, but first of all, let's put it in front of an audience.' It's different. Just like when you're sitting there and you're playing something to the director the first time, it sounds completely different. 'It sounded just fine before the director walked in. When the director walks in, it all goes to mono somehow. Why is that?' We are influenced by the people that are around us. It's really important that you have the courage to put it in front of the audience. Part of the process of being a film composer is you have to understand that everybody is cheering you on - nobody is your enemy, everybody is on your side, wants you to succeed. But sometimes people get a bit worried. I get a bit wobbly about, 'Was this really such a good idea? Is that really the sound we were after?' You have to come at it with a certain recklessness, but at the same time, with a certain sense of responsibility. 'Are you on story?' Because if you're on story, you can do whatever you want to do."

Mia S.

"You try never to tell people what to think. You just try to make it possible for them to feel something, and you don't try to tell them what to feel. You should just get shot if you're becoming sentimental. It's this really fine balancing act to see how far you can push it. You're supposed to push it - you sit there, and you just don't like it yourself anymore, and you go, 'Ah, let's ditch this bit. There's a bit of a fix-up opportunity here.' You just carry on doing that till the very last moment, because it's flexible, there is time. Whatever they tell you, there is time. Here's part of the process that people don't quite comprehend until they're really in the room: This music, which is quite provocative, not what anybody on the outside world, imagined could possibly work for a Sherlock Holmes Christmas movie. There were some questions asked by the studio. I don't play that game where I go, 'Oh the executives, what do they know?' I want to know what their questions are. The last thing we want to do is go and make a big mess of it. If somebody's got a good question, I want to hear it - I want to be questioned. I realized what was happening was because of the pressure that I'm always conscious of, even though I try to suppress it - you know that the weight of a lot of money on your shoulders - a lot of people's careers, work, this movie's gotta come out, and it needs to do well. So you can't be trivial about this, and you do feel it. Within this pressure, you're trying to navigate some sort of artistic freedom."