From Hans Zimmer's MasterClass

Directors: Part 1

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.

Topics include: Working with Directors • Learning the Story


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.

Topics include: Working with Directors • Learning the Story

Hans Zimmer

Teaches Film Scoring

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This is the only bit of master class that's going to be important [INAUDIBLE]. 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.

I leave inspired and filled with insight that can be carried not only to my love for music, but for many aspects of my career and life. :)

Love the class, but completing it I found I didn't have the passion already.

Fantastic class! Loved Hans Zimmer’s conversations and his expressing of things. It has certainly inspired me to go back to film scoring! Thank you very much!

I've went in thinking this course was about creating a good score but it has turned out to be so much more. It's a personal story by Hans Zimmer, he wasn't a teacher but more of a speaker, telling the audience of his experience, which I think taught me more than anyone ever could.


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.

Anna J.

Hello, this is one of my first tracks I ever made, when I started to make music in 2015 for the first time. I know, I know. Now I could mix it better. But still wanted to share with you my nostalgic tunes. I hope some of you like the idea. You also can get in touch with me anytime. Find me as The Allegorist or Anna Jordan Project. Looking forward to connect with you.

A fellow student

I feel like this would be a bit more valuable if I was actually able to work with a director, being 14 and all. I will, however, definitely remember this if I ever decide to make a job out of it.