From Hans Zimmer's MasterClass

Hans' Journey

Learn how Hans fell in love with storytelling and switched his career from a "radio star" to film composer.

Topics include: Learning • Storytelling • Balancing Family & Work


Learn how Hans fell in love with storytelling and switched his career from a "radio star" to film composer.

Topics include: Learning • Storytelling • Balancing Family & Work

Hans Zimmer

Teaches Film Scoring

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I grew up in Germany without television. So my parents basically thought television was the end of culture as we know it. I remember roughly at the age of 12 sneaking into the back door of the little local cinema in our little village. And they were playing Once Upon a Time in the West. And it was just the huge Sergio Leone images was the Ennio Morricone music. And I went, that's what I want to do. I've been misled all my life being taken to concerts and operas. This is where it's at. It never occurred to me that I could actually go and do movies. What happened was that my writing of music changed and became more about storytelling. I became more interested in telling a story in music than anything else. I did the usual, was it a pop band. I did a record with a chap called Trevor Horn called "Video Killed the Radio Star," which, really, what we wanted to do, we wanted to make a movie. We didn't really want to make a record. And the record is very much a story. So I became more and more interested and fascinated by the possibilities that music and images had. One of the problems I had in my sort of pop music experience was that it felt very limited in many many, many ways. Partly it was the structure of a pop song was always intro, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, chorus, chorus out. So structure was always the same. And it didn't expand. And it didn't expand on-- you couldn't take emotional risks in a funny way. And you couldn't tell the stories I wanted to tell or I wanted to talk about. And movies let you do that. And I will miss the late nights on the British motorways forever but not really. And exchanged it for late night sitting in front of movie screens and talking to directors. And really part of the thing that happened as well about writing for movies was suddenly you were in a room with people who knew how to tell a story. And I mean, look, the first director I ever met met with was Nick Roeg, Stephen Frears, those sort of English directors in the '80s. They were writing things like My Beautiful Laundrette, which was stories which felt relevant. They felt more relevant than the pop songs we were doing. There was a sort of freedom attached to the way we could structure music and we could-- if today I wanted to write a psychedelic country and western heavy metal song, nobody was stopping me from doing it. While in the record business, which pretended that you had freedom, it was quite the opposite where you're actually put into these narrow little boxes. You are doing electro pop. You are doing whatever you're doing. So the freedom that came with doing movies was enormously attractive. I came to cinema weirdly late. I mean, I told you earlier that the first thing I really saw was Once Upon a Time in the West because I snuck in as a kid. I still owe the money. And it just blew me away because for...

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 am not a composer, nor even a musician. This course was of great interest to me because I adore the music of Hans Zimmer, which has given me great joy over the years via the movies he scored. In this course his explanations contained beautiful insights to the creative process, much of which applies to other arts, such as writing where I am more comfortable. Loved this course.

Totally different perspective of music, revealing new angles!

Started with deadmau5. Went to Hans. It's Zimmerman to Zimmer. somewhere in the middle is where I find myself. I can apply what I've learned in both, and like deadmau5, I'll be back to go through this very slowly, patiently, and thoughtfully.

Its like hanging up with him and he's telling you all his insight from all the years that he's been creating, super interesting


Teresa L.

What he says about finding our "Voice" applies to every one of us as creators, as human beings, who can get quiet enough to hear an inutition already inside ourselves, swimming in a current of humanity that is hard-wired to conform. To trust it, to follow it. He says it so beautifully. To give ourselves permission to be who we are becoming... the acorn to the oak tree.

Graeme R.

We feel like the luckiest people on earth, being plunked down in front of Hans Zimmer as waves of generous insight roll over us.

Regnar E.

Didn't know I had so much in common with Hans Zimmer. Without comparing it is reassuring to know when I think about what he has achieved. Mr. Zimmer is very useful as a mentor in this masterclass. Very helpful and excellent.

Kenneth S.

There is no stupid question, we're all just making it all up... I love that. I like hearing Hans' story, and his straightforward honesty, it's quire reassuring...

Kori C.

I've been creating music all my life, and my kids have grown up listening. They are all creative types and life is never normal around here! It's awesome that you have/had the opportunities you gave your kids while growing up. No, you are not the status quo Dad, but it is ok because of what you do.


Thanks for sharing your personal story on how LIFE can be out of BALANCE and it's OK. We all make the BEST of it every day in an abnormal way. :)

Marcus M.

Hearing Hans' story is inspiring. I would be interested in Hans going back to that firs Cinema he snuck into. Maybe surprise people by sneaking into a screening of a film he scored and then making some remarks at the end?....

Judith M.

Somewhere out there a cinema owner will remember that and ask you to come back and sign his wall just to prove you'd been might do his trade the world of good! I found myself grinning at the power of story that was obviously working for you in your early career, there are no coincidences. Your muse was looking out for you. Two limos in a back alley in London must have raised a few eyebrows. :) So after Once Upon a Time in the West's score, it must have felt like you'd come a full circle being involved in the Lone Ranger inspired by the same movie, or was it more eerie to feel the modern representation of the background theme? Is that why you adapted the William Tell Overture? As a salute to the past which had brought you to movie storytelling by music. The two brothers in that case being your old self and classical/opera and your own truth seeker within which led you to modern scoring and bringing the characters alive for us, their inner selves mirrored by your soundtracks.

Markus T.

May I ask something that you have done, as part of your career. I know that you were involved in, also in game composing, in projects such as. Even your major of work involves major films. But I know you are also involved in some cinematic game productions, such as Call of Duty modern warfare 2 and Crysis 2 How the game soundtrack composing work was different than the film projects that you were involved? Any particular hints of difference when working in a film environment in comparison?


I had a similar experience!!! I was a teenager when I saw The professional !!!! Jane Paul Belmondo and Ennio,'s Music. I felt like you? It is I want to do!