From Hans Zimmer's MasterClass

Directors: Part 2

Learn how to effectively have a conversation with the director throughout the film process.

Topics include: Working with Directors • Discussing the Film


Learn how to effectively have a conversation with the director throughout the film process.

Topics include: Working with Directors • Discussing the Film

Hans Zimmer

Teaches Film Scoring

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The way I work is I talk to a director, usually before they go out to shoot the movie. So a year in advance of actually going in and recording this stuff, some conversation happens about the intention, why we want to do this movie, how we want to do is movie. And then something happens. The director goes off to shoot the movie. And that is basically-- the director is going to battle, the director goes to war and he comes back wrecked, three, four months later. I mean, he has now answered 1,000 million insane trivial questions. He's been thinking on his feet all the time. Things have gone wrong. The money has run out. It rained on the day he needed sunshine and it was sunny on the day he needed rain. So by the time he comes back into my room he's a changed man. And the other thing that happens is he might not quite remember why we wanted to go and make this movie in the first place, because he's bloodied and beaten and exhausted. And so part of my job, I always see this as part of my job, is that the first conversation we have when he returns from battle is that I remind him why we wanted to go and do this thing in the first place. And then I remind him of some of the instincts and some of the things that we wanted to do and the things that we were looking forward to doing. And just remind him why this is actually a good idea. Speak in plain English if you can and if they're German, speak in German. No, no, no just use your words. You know, it's like what they teach you as a kid. Use your words and don't get technical. Don't make it into a technical conversation about A minor VIII chord and augmented chords and triads and-- Don't have the conversation which is one I'm prone to, where I get nerdy and I go, ooh I want to go and use a Moog 55 because dadadada, you know. And I can get all nerdy about this. Or should we record this on reel tape or should we do this digitally? And-- and I can get all carried away in this and it has nothing to do with anything. This is just, this is the side bar that I'm going to have with my guys, know my technicians, etc. Or I have with myself, and then I-- because all you want to do is you want to present a piece of music or a sound. I mean, sometimes it's just the sound. And you want to go, what do you think? Cool sound? Is this right for this movie? Does this feel right? Does this work with the images? And nobody cares how you got there. Sometimes with Gore Verbinski, he'll go from the dominant chord to the tonic or something like this. And you go, Gore, come on. It's like let me rock out here. Being that specific about it, he robs himself of the possibility of being surprised, of something happening that-- you know, yeah. I understand what he's trying to do. He's trying to get from a question to an answer, or he's trying to get into a new thing. And might there be a more surprising and interesting way o...

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.

Learned a lot on this class. To make it complete it could use a lesson about how Hans makes a piece of music. Just to see his workflow in action.

I very much enjoyed the studies of the characters and the reasoning behind the melodies created in their image. I found that aspect to be intoxicating. I've rewatched those portions several times.

Being humble is always a quality I look for in an artist. Hans knows that feeling like someone is nipping at your heels is a great place to be

it was enjoyable. But I took the class out of curiosity, not that I have any ambition to compose a film score . I work with people that can do that. Perhaps I have leaned a little bit better how to communicate with my profession associates.


A fellow student

I throw on Inception OST as background music at 30% volume while watching this.

A fellow student

Do you think there is ever a time and place for temp music? Sometimes if I'm experiencing creative block I listen to a few tracks with the feeling I'm trying to capture, and I focus on how that feeling was created rather than the technicalities of it. I find it sometimes helps to find some temp tracks for myself as inspiration. But I definitely know it can be hard when the director gets hooked on a temp.

Rudy B.

Everyone here is much more experienced and advanced than I. Perhaps my infant, very basic approach may stimulate another way of implementing your Temp/Non-Temp work flow. I write really short, basic 1 minute scores, loops & beats based on how I feel about something that day. I catalog and save all project files in my DAW. This gives me a great starting point with instruments, presets and effects all intact when it comes time to build completed tracks to tell the story. What is your workflow?

A fellow student

I mean sometimes using temp music is not really your decision to make, as sad as that sounds :/ In both cases where I made film music the director sent me the clip with a reference track as so to make something in its style. I totally agree with Zimmer: creativity is #1. But should I just try to tell the director I wanna do my own thing?

Alexander P.

I liked this a lot. Ima a director and composer. I must say I used temp music for my latest short film and ran into the frustration of trying to compose a score like it. As a director I think its helpful to get into a mood but as a composer it can really cause problems with creativity.

René N.

I sometimes compose in such way, that I forget all the rules. And it ain't bad...

Benjamin I.

Great lesson! I totally get what Hans says about the use of temp tracks. It is so easy to get locked onto a certain sound, though temps may be helpful inspiration for generating initial ideas, I find they can strongly damage my personal creativity.

Art D.

Excellent lesson. I'm really enjoying the content of this class so far. Most of these things end up about how to use synths and DAWs and all the expensive sound sets, etc... This class is getting into the heart of the matter and how to approach a project.

Tanner W.

Probably my favorite class lesson so far. Loved the discussion of the dialogue between the director and composer, and how composers tend to "nerd out" on things like synthesizers and recording processes, I love all of that. It's great that he's learned that the time and the place for that is separate from the time with the director, and that coming to a conclusion of the key idea and feeling is more important during that exchange.

Tony C.

A way to experiment with this concept is that I have taken part in the 48Hour Film Projects, 72Hr, and so forth just to keep this idea of making something original, or changing the chemistry up. Most recent film project, I was able to produce about 7 Tracks of Varying tempos each. 3 tracks ended up being used in the final project. It ended up being a great experience and has been feeding another passion project since.