Music & 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.

Onestly, this masterclass went beyond any excpectations. Thank for making it happen.

I've reached to a higher understanding what a film score needs from the author. It was really eyeopening to hear the stories behind certain themes as well as encouraging to know that one does not necessarily need expensive gear to make it all happen. Great Class and excited to get to work.

This Masterclass was full of insight, inspiration and, for me, reinforcement of some things I had been doing. I could watch these all day and I am even considering doing some more masterclasses. I really enjoy the format and want to that you for starting something like this. It really levels the playing field for students all over the world.

Hans Zimmer wants to tell a story and so he does!



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.

stepohen seale

The role of the composer is to serve the film and help the Director achieve their vision

Simon W.

After so many years of composing alone through my own efforts, it's so good to hear this master of the art explaining this in the best possible way. I love it. It all makes so much sense.


Extraordinary! Mr. Zimmer speaks with friendly candor and authority that takes many University professors years to achieve. I love how he addresses musical phrasing as dialog. Brilliant! Piano teachers too often emphasize the mechanics of translating musical notation into metronome-accurate music rather than conveying the emotion of the composer's intent through phrasing. I'm loving this class!

Holly B.

Mr. Zimmer? I would totally steal that purple blazer. In fact, don't make me steal it, just hand it over. Enlightening lecture and thank you for sharing your insights into the creative process.

Kenneth S.

Very good lesson on focusing on working with the Director. There's that part about checking with the Producer as well, but overall, you're part of the creative team telling the story, and you're adding to what the Director is creating or shaping... good lesson!


Really. A movie? I have to work with a director? There's a fuckin' revelation.

Chantalle S.

I had no idea the film scorer was in such close contact with the director so much so as influencing the director sometimes. How rewarding it is to be part of such a big role in the whole movie process. I hope one day I get the chance to experience this. I have so much to learn and have barely scraped the surface. I love Hans lessons, so inspiring!

Pedro A.

I just love the way music can create a mood, it seem that the movie itself it's been made by the musical point of view, great lesson!

Tony R.

Good to understand that the process has changed. The only movie I ever scored was done the old way. I waited for the “almost” finished movie on video (1995) and then started to write. I had already written a theme song which landed me the job in the first place but then waited until I could see the raw film until I could start writing. It was the story of an Olympic wrestler and all the Director told me was that he loved my theme song, which I wrote knowing only the title and very little of the story, and he invoked “Rocky”. A year to talk to the director? Ah no. :) But as for the music moving the set people were very inspired by the them song so I guess that’s a similar concept.