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Arts & Entertainment

Directors: Part 1

Hans Zimmer

Lesson time 9:35 min

Learn how Hans works with directors, including what he needs to learn from the director in order to start writing - sometimes even before the film is shot.

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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This is the only bit of master class that's going to be important . When you start on a project, you are working with the director. Everybody else is secondary noise. You and the director make a pact that you're going to do this movie together, and you're going to do your utmost and your best to go and make his film great, even if it means you have to kill him sometimes. But your allegiance is with the director. And yes, what the producers say and what the studio says and-- and they're great comments, they're amazing comments usually. And you have to take them on board. And you want to take them on board. But you have to filter them and transform them into, is this helpful to the film the director is trying to make, because I don't know how else to do it. Films aren't made by committee. It seems like it sometimes, but not really. If you take Ron Howard, Ridley Scott, Chris Nolan, and Terry Malick, I mean, they are directors that work in very different styles. But really, at the end of the day, we've all come together at the same sort of place. I have to get into his head. And that's part of the process, because what I want to do is I want to make the movie that he wants to make. That's what I signed on for. You know, I want to have a bit of his vision. So, I work really very hard at trying to understand and have conversations about what this movie is about. And of course, the weird thing is that we don't really talk about the movie. We talk about everything else. We're trying to sort of sneak up on the subject. Because ultimately, he has to hand over the job of directing, in a funny way, to me. And the best directors-- and you know, the people I work with time and time again, I mean, they do it with-- they sort of hand it over with great joy. You know, they get excited about something new coming. You know, somebody new coming into the party. You know, with Terry Malick, I mean, I spent a year before Terry went off to shoot "Thin Red Line." We were just talking about art. We were talking about philosophy, and we were talking about paintings. The thing we sort of agreed on really early on-- I'd read the script and it was 198 pages, which is a lot of script. So I said to him, Terry, might it not be a really good idea if we never talked about the script anymore, we just talked about what we want to do with the script. You know, what's the subtext, what are the other things we want to do. And we-- God, we talked a-- you know, it was a year-long conversation. We talked a lot about church paintings, you know, the way the light in Baroque painting, you know, hit through the cloud. You know, that ray of light. And I think that's really what those conversations are. And that's what all those directors have in common, that the conversation is one where we're trying to learn from each other, and we're trying to le...

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.

Hans touches in on some interesting part of the film scoring process. I like that this course is not a technical, or music theoretic course but rather a kind of "meta" talk about story and filmmaking. Thanks Hans and the Masterclass team !

The ultimate insight to the artistic approach and workflow of film composers and creative people in general, it's all HERE.

SO inspiring. This was great. I'm off to work.

Hearing Hans Zimmer talk on a more meta level as well as on specific details was really useful to hear. I liked his final words too.



I am loving it. he is speaking in the artistic terms that I understand and wish to ponder on. The techniques are easily learned here and there.

Arlene G.

Actually, I'm disappointed by this class. I wouldn't call this teaching as much as Zimmer just talking about his experiences. He does throw in some interesting philosophies he has learned along the way. But I would have preferred his getting more into practical tips he could actually teach. Maybe I'm speaking too quickly. Maybe he will eventually. But the problem is I'm losing interest. I'm not sure I'm excited enough to stay with this class.

Liam S.

I did not know that a lot of the film music is discussed, planned, even written before the film is even shot. That is pretty awesome. Rather than waiting for the film, you are working with the director in making the film with the music.

Larissa R.

Thank you for the temp music (bricks) defence. I've been using temp music for ages, it is unbelievable how making choice of their "bricks" could help me find my way to the truth of the E ♭ M7 for other expressions. Each and every piece of the "temp" music is someone's hope. My uncle used to say: "There is a talent to make. It needs a talent to appreciate". TV news are real textual "temp music". Thank you for making parallels, this speech is a source of the "will to create" indeed.

A fellow student

so far wonderful in terms of creative overview but what about the practicalities of writing to frame etc.

Tulio S.

"Reality is the enemy of imagination". I shall remember this simple sentence in every creative moment from now on.

Paul R.

this is good occupational advice but I would like to listen to music with him and hear him comment, not just talk about how movies are made


OK reporting back. I superimposed the theme of “Molossus” from Batman Begins over the T-Rex scene in Jurassic Park. If you start the song at 0:12 and play the clip of Lex seeing the missing goat for the first time, the fragments of the scene match up so perfectly, it actually made me laugh a few times. It’s amazing how a great piece of music can change such an iconic moment in movie history, especially one that was already made powerful by the lack of music.


I can't wait to superimpose The Dark Knight soundtrack over Jurassic Park...what a fun assignment!


It is truly amazing to see how he refers to the notes as questions and answers and takes this mindset to the same level when it comes to his work believing music is the best language for expressing emotion.