Music & Entertainment

Directors: Part 3

Hans Zimmer

Lesson time 6:47 min

Hans continues his discussion on what makes a great director and what makes a great relationship between composer and director.

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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If you just look at the Ridley Scott movies, Thelma and Louise is a very different aesthetic musically from Gladiator's is a very different aesthetic from Black Rain is a very different style from Matchstick Men. What else did I do with Rid? Black Hawk Down, Hannibal. I mean they're all, they're completely, stylistically, they're very, very different. And he's very, very different as well in them. Because that's the whole thing. I mean, one of the reasons I think he's such a great director is because he's interested in so many things. And he can get passionate about so many things. There's an underlying aesthetic and a huge amount of knowledge and craftsmanship that goes with being able to, are we going to go and tell the story of Hannibal Lecter, are we going to tell the story of a battle in Mogadishu, are we going to tell the story of some con man in the valley. So, or a gladiator. So, really I know, I just know this about him. I feel this, I've never talked about this. But if I had to sum it all up, as he's genuinely interested in people and he's genuinely interested in stories. And everybody looks at the amazing way he shoots things and the amazing compositions and the amazing eye he has and the amazing artistry. But underneath, underneath, underneath, all that, the foundation for all of that is, he wants to go and tell a good story. I think at the end of the day, the director composer relationship comes down to something. It has to come down to trust, because the director is sort of in charge of everything during the shooting of the movie. He can look through your camera and he can probably adjust a few things here. He can probably do a line reading for an actor if he really has to. But when it comes to a composer, he has to trust me. Because if he says to me, a nice C major chord here would be the perfect thing, it's meaningless. I see it so often that filmmakers find it hard to take the step off the cliff, because that's really what it is. Not, they've been involved in the script, they've been involved in the casting, they've been involved in everything. And by being involved, I mean they had language, and eyes, and whatever, words to control the situation, to control their movie. And then they suddenly get to that bit of we need music. And whatever words they use, whatever it is, how ever articulate they are, it's still not going to get the music written. So they have to go and hand over literally the baton to the composer. And, oh God, the second movie I did over here for Ridley Scott, Black Rain. And I had heard that Ridley had a bit of a reputation of not sticking with the composer sometimes beyond the first session. So I just said to him, Ridley, what will it will take for me not to get fired? He said, simple, don't write me a symphony. I knew exactly what he meant. He said, write, surf the movie, enhance the...

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.

The video series was well done. I am excited to go through the second time with the workbook. Hope to engage the community in the coming months. I am really enjoying this Masterclass. Great Job.

Great inspiration to anything I do! Thank you!

It was an amazing experience! I learned a lot from Hans, and it encouraged me to keep making my way to be a great composer. Hans is a great teacher, and a greater person!

It was absolutely fantastic. Mr. Zimmer is a titan in music!


Liam S.

Hans is constantly discussing that music for film is constant experimentation and exploration - this is so interesting but so important in working with directors. You have to trust their judgement and they have to trust yours.

New York C.

I had a feeling Hans started by understanding the directors soul and temperament. I am working with a director who disappears for months at a time and then just shows up at our film society meeting unannounced. It’s going to be a long slog with my friend, but I will try to get into his soul after the directors lesson.

Dr. Monnie Chan

Our maestro teacher Hans Zimmer live concert in Hong Kong is coming on 26th September 2019. Just 12 days to go. I am going and wonder if there are any classmates I can meet?


Hans is a great teacher! All of this is not about music, it's about how to pair music to film. You can learn music anywhere, but learning how to apply that knowledge to todays film industry is rare. This is a true Masterclass.

Jay R.

I really wish there were more audio examples of specific pieces that he is referring to. It is frustrating to hear someone refer to this amazing piece of music that he wrote and that everybody discussed how it was different and worked great for the film only to have the lesson continue without letting you hear it.

Dr. Monnie Chan

Probably the best result of the film making and music is, when two of a kind's souls are met: director and composer. Thank you Teacher Zimmer for your inspiration and insights being shared.

Shem D.

I love his lessons! They offer insight that I never thought of. I was just wondering what program I could use to try it out.

Rudy B.

Given my background I can attest that Leadership is an art developed over time and through experience. I'm not a director but I know how I want to tell the story or complete the task. That's when your leadership style becomes important especially when your working with seasoned professionals. Leadership should then take on a less forceful but more inclusive form to obtain the teams willingness & belief in your vision to compete the take. This goes along way to ease stress on budget, time and the team.

Mike B.

He references the Hannibal Soundtrack which was my favorite by Hans, though another composer wrote that wonderful final track.

Paul F.

Just a thought about how to understand the director / ego. Sure there's lots of arrogant director types out there. but there's an undertone of fear hiding in there. Let me explain. In film everyone can get replaced at any given time. A director has a finite amount of time, and a finite amount of money to create something that the producer has faith in for both. The ego in the director can be a mix of being the "only man for the job" while also being at risk of getting dropped tomorrow. 1 in 8 films that begin get completed. 1 in 8 of them break even financially. Knowing that any director full well knows there's a 1 in 800 chance of breaking even in this town, you've got alot of stress, plus... plus.. You're wanting to create something that shows how good you are at bringing your emotional language to the screen because you want to make damn sure you're being hired by top notch producers, and not another indie where financing can be pulled at any time. Simply put the director knows there's dozens of factors and people that can put him out of a job. Knowing this may help when dealing with the next director. Especially when he needs to know you can create for the vision he promised the producers that got him the job in the first place. And this goes back to seeing him as "just a guy."