Arts & Entertainment, Music


Hans Zimmer

Lesson time 10:12 min

Discover how Hans approaches writing to story and his number one rule for film composers.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Approaching Story • Learning the Story


At the end of the day, I can tell you everything you need to know in one word. Story. Stick with the story. Figure out the story, stick with the story like glue. Don't abandon the story, don't betray the story, know the story you want to tell. And in a funny way, it sounds like that is actually very narrow, but it's actually huge and vast because the subtext for the composer is that there is a subtext. Because you don't want to go and tell the story that they're telling beautifully, elegantly in images and words. You want to go and slip in underneath and find that bit that they're not illuminating yet, that takes the whole thing just that step further into sometimes a metaphysical world, sometimes into a more emotional world, sometimes just figuring out how to color a scene in a slightly different way. But at the end of the day, everybody on the film-- if it's a good project, a film become successful because everybody has decided that they want to tell this one story and it's just they're using their different voices to tell that story. I suppose it's a delicious meal, and I suppose at the end of the day, I don't see myself very differently from a chef. He has the task. The guests are coming at 8 o'clock and they want to have an experience. And so I go out and I see what's available. Are there fresh tomatoes? Oh, look, carrots look good. Potatoes. So you get all this stuff, and then you spend an enormous, inordinate amount of time peeling potatoes, chopping onions, and all that sort of stuff. And then at 10 to 8:00, you just put it all in the pot and you have, hopefully, a delicious and fresh meal. So I don't think the process is that different with the one caveat, always, you just always in the back of your mind, stay on story. Stay on story. Stay on story. There's an obsessive quality about the whole thing because what you're trying to do is, you're actually trying to figure out how you're going to live in this world. So there's a bit of method-composing that's going on where, yes, I'm a lot more fun to be around when I work on a romantic comedy than when I work on The Dark Knight. You just don't want to be around me then. I do become The Joker. I do become all of those things. I found over the years I have a strange way of working where when I start on a project, really what happens is, rather than reading the script, I'd much rather sit down with the director and say to him, tell me the story. Because then I know what's in his head, what his emphasis is, where his thoughts are going. He might not tell me all the details, and he certainly won't recite bits of dialogue to me, but I know what sort of a movie we were doing. When Ridley Scott phoned me and said, hey, let's make a gladiator movie, it's 9 o'clock in the morning. I'm no good at 9 o'clock in the morning. I just started laughing because I imagined he was going to ...

About the Instructor

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.

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Hans Zimmer

From collaborating to scoring, Hans Zimmer teaches you how to tell a story with music in 31 exclusive video lessons.

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