Music & Entertainment

Directors: Part 2

Hans Zimmer

Lesson time 8:24 min

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

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 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.

That is all starts with 11 notes. That really got me hooked. The simplicity of something that seemed so unreachable. Loved this course!

This class helped me understand a different way of looking at music. As a songwriter I have the luxury of using words and singing my melodies to tell my story. Its always great hearing how someone else does in a slightly different way.

It was great learning from a legend like him and the production value is perfect- but at times it felt more like a reminiscence of his own personal career instead of a lesson to the viewer. Very interesting nevertheless.

Have to watch it 3 more times .... Hans is the smartest Composer working today .... Be Experimental like him !!!!!


A fellow student

I appreciate and agree that, we should write from our hearts, not to fulfill "technically". Just flow naturally with feelings and always choose the simple way. I also watched Inception and King Arthur with my fiance, before I came back to Hong Kong from Malta home two weeks ago. Still thinking the scenes.... Thanks Teacher Zimmer. Assignment will be sent later for this wonderful and useful lesson.

A fellow student

Thanks for the amazing experience shared, Teacher Zimmer. Before I went back to Hong Kong from Malta on 8th July, I watched The Dark Knight and Sherlock Holmes. Now thinking about the songs and works I wrote, and select the best one to "fit" the scene(s) and submit as assignment works. Lovely teaching and very interesting experience being learnt from each lesson. Thank you.

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.