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Hans Zimmer Masterclass – Understand Film Scoring
Film scoring is a mystery to most filmmakers. How a composer comes up with the perfect music to compliment the image is truly magical. Oscar-winning film composer Hans Zimmer (Inception, The Lion King, and The Dark Knight) has decided to share his creative process in his new masterclass.
Hans Zimmer didn’t see a film until he was 12 years old. Since then, he’s scored over 150 films. 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 tell your story.
…then we’ll all be in for a treat! You ENROLL to the course now to get early access to this game-changing course. Click here to gain access
Hans Zimmer’s MasterClass is priced at $90 and includes:
- Hans teaches you his unique approach to composing a film score in over 5 hours of lessons (30 Videos).
- Interactive exercises
- A 47-page downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps and supplemental materials.
- Lifetime access, with classes that never expires
- Learning materials and workbooks
- Accessible from any device
- Office Hours: Upload videos to get feedback from the class. Hans will also critique select student work.
f this class is anything like past Masterclass’ you are in for a treat.
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BONUS: Film Scoring MasterClass by Hans Zimmer
If you like Hans Zimmer Masterclass – Learn from the Oscar Winning Master,
then click below: How to Work with a Music Composer with Cris Velasco
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SCOTT FEINBERG: I understand from I try to do my homework before this and what I understand was that your mother was a musician and your father was an engineer and it just seem so perfect because sort of what you do involves elements of both of those things.
HANS ZIMMER: Yes, my mother was lovely, lovely and my dad was really a good mentor and so of course like all things I couldn’t follow in his foots steps, I mean it just becomes an impossible thing, but I think my love for technology and etc came from him and knowing and having the freedom to think of technology as well in the context of music which is in one way or the other is all about technology because the question I have always been asked you know electronics and orchestras you know putting those together.
Well that’s not a very adventurous idea because all instruments are technology in one way or the other, the piano is an amazing piece of technology it is a piece of technology of its time and now we have some post industrialist computer and electronic age so why shouldn’t we, why shouldn’t augment the office why shouldn’t we augment instrument.
SCOTT FEINBERG: Was music something I know that your mother was self taught but was that something that was really part of your childhood were you given lesson how did you.
HANS ZIMMER: Yes, I spent my childhood really I had oddly strange parents because they were strict about only 2 things one was they were staunch pacifist which I absolutely couldn’t understand as a kid because every boy wants a toy gun you know I lost out on that and then the other thing I lost out on was television because they thought that television was like the end of civilization as we know it.
But in retrospect as we realize was sort of a great sacrifice they made themselves by never having a television because once it is in the house it is in the house I mean, so I had 2 things I had books and I had music and we had piano and music has always been played, we would always go to concerts and stuff like.
People would come and play at the house it was great and really when I got bored with reading I would go and play some music you know I wasn’t playing you know I would go and bash around on the piano and enjoy the rackets it made and just around the corner from us lived this really remarkable man in a sixteenth century tower.
He was a restorer of Cathedral he did glass work and somehow in his travels he managed to persuade con however he got to it a church out of its two thousand pipe church organ so they were next to where we lived a medieval tower with a huge church organ in it and I could go over there every day and just unleash the beast and everybody thought it was just a terrible racket I was making.
The man he would talk to my mother about my adventurous harmonic sense and all that stuff, it wasn’t adventurous harmonic sense it’s what kids do you know I was 5/6 years old whatever but I would go there all the time and then before my 6th birthday my father died and then music became a much larger part of my life and it was the perfect refuge and it was one of the few things that would put a smile on my mother’s face if I sat down and played the piano and she eventually said she want to get a piano teacher and I thought you know because children think with a different logic but it is a logic none the less that I was hearing all this stuff in my head and this guy would teach me how to express it you know because that’s what a piano teacher does.
What a piano teacher does he gets you to learn your scales he get you to learn other peoples music so I rebelled against this within moments and so the formal education lasted 2 weeks it was truly a blunder.
SCOTT FEINBERG: So the rest was just self taught.
HANS ZIMMER: It wasn’t entirely self taught because music is you know, music takes it really works best in a community, so if you know like at school we had a little band so we were playing music stuff has different functions at different times you know and as a kid being lonely I would take refuge in it by the time I was 13 or 14 there was an amazing tool to attract the other sex you know.
Other boys had the gift of the gab you know if you can sit down at the piano and do that so I think there are very few musicians if you ask them that didn’t at one point or the other just go and miss used their talent you know as a means of seduction. But really that thing that happens when you are 14 and just sitting in a room and just playing rock and roll and the blues I don’t know why in Germany every kid wanted to play the blues.
You know I think because one of the major influences on all of us was American forces net work which was the army radio station and none of us listened to Germany radio but I remember hiding that little transistor radio under my pillow at night you know and listen to Wilson and Jack play rock and roll to us and hearing Ray Charles and Aretha Franklyn and hearing all that stuff you know and eventually and that’s all I did.
I was, I am truly an academic failure because what I would do is I would sit in these class with 35 kids and you know I tried not to be in the side line of the teacher I just day dream you know and which is not (7:26) so moved schools a lot I would say you know I eventually run out of school in Germany and Switzerland I finally ended up in England which I loved being in England because it was all about rock ad roll and I never went back I never went back to Germany.
I mean I went back to left school and tried to get a few jobs and television you know please let me write some music for your not very good television show of course they didn’t want me because I hadn’t gone to the music academy I didn’t have the right papers and the right qualifications so luckily that didn’t work out, so I stayed in England.
SCOTT FEINBERG: How did it happen that you started I believe producing and in some cases but also performing for music videos and advertisers was that in England?
HANS ZIMMER: That was in England I was in a band the way everybody was in a band going up and down the ways playing in clubs late seventies the beginning of the eighties and it was a really interesting tie because there was punk and at the same time Margaret Thatcher was in government and all these towns we would go t, I mean like Nottingham Hall and Sunderland which was the ship yard have been shut down or you know we would go to the mining towns and mines would have been shut down and endless drug so you know so it was a time of numerous political upheaval and I was in the little band we never had a record deal but we managed to make a living and if I look back at it, it was a pathetic living you know.
I mean you know I just lived off McDonalds and whatever the cheapest food was and wherever that was and so it’s all you know it is your normal spiral tap story spiral tap the best and the most truthful documentary rock and roll ever made I think, and then one day we had this deal it was this recording that we could use the off hour which was from 10:00 o’clock at night to 10: in the morning or something like this, and during the day we had commercials etc and (10:10) for George Martin and George asked the engineer if he knew anybody who was good at this strange piece the (10:21).
He said there is this kid who spends all night in here and I met her and she asked me what I was doing Monday and Thursday and Friday and usually part of the musicians lot you so used to people promising you things or promising you and they never phones you back, so you know I didn’t think anything was going to happen and sure enough Monday I was doing this session and to this day I remember exactly what the check looked liked and the signature you know because that’s the first time somebody actually paid me for doing music properly and I left the band and start doing commercials and I met a lot of really great people through that.
I met Stanley (name 11:08) through that Richard Arby an enormous amount of people and of course there was a time where great English film makers were making commercials Scott Brothers Hugh Thompson, Alan Park and Nick Roge, so suddenly I was involved with film makers and I became like a side thing.
I joined I didn’t really joined but I had some friends who were making the record and so I became a part of them just before my 21st birthday became the number one band and again in best spiral tap fashion and everything went pear shaped and wrong. We were doing really good until we had a hit record and then suddenly you know all hell break lose.
SCOTT FEINBERG: Can we say for the record which this was.
HANS ZIMMER: Well (12:13)we were somewhat pathetic, it was really Trevor Holms baby and Jeff Downs but life goes crazy because you have a I remember we have the number one records we were still trying to push start Jeff’s car, because having a, everybody were assuming that we were rich you know we haven’t seen any money you know and so I was doing my commercials and stuff like this.
Jeff and Trevor was doing sessions and producing other things and then we had to do an album a long playing something or the other all we have was this one song and I realized pretty quickly what they wanted for us to do the same things that we did in that same song and I suddenly realized that was far more tedious than even because the commercials were quite interesting you know because you could move around in style you were working with interesting film makers you were doing new things all the time and again because of the period things were being pushed.
So I became Stanley Myers assistant he was a great film composer and a great intellect and he really, really took me under his wing and really showed me how the office worked and I spent I mean I spent years learning things from him and he was incredible generous because he would let me be in these meeting straight away, I mean the first you know proper meeting on film that I was ever in was with Nicholas Roge and it was just a different conversation was on a different level.
And I liked the idea even with radio stars it’s not just your normal love songs it tries to tell story and I love this idea that you could tell to tell stories with music and I love the idea of combing images with music and I think we lost something when we figured out to do recording and separate the eye watching the performer from the audio you know recording is a very different.
Trevor Horn is an amazing producer because he is one of the people who truly understand that you know it is a very different thing going to concerts and seeing somebody and listening to it you know on your iPod.
SCOTT FEINBERG: Those films that you made with Stanley and beautiful Andrea and a number of.
HANS ZIMMER: (15:08)Urika lot of gorgeous stuff, my beautiful Andred was a problem because it was made with a coffin of people (15:25) who were doing music video up till then at that moment and we also decided we are going to do a movie and Steven (name) was the only one who sort of understood how to make a movie and then (15:40) became a title and you know my life just turned full circle because doing rush was like being back in the old days working with the rock and title.
Weirdly nothing had changed you know and the energy was the same and the entity was just the same a bunch of recklessness come one let’s make a movie and all that.
SCOTT FEINBERG: And the first time that you independently score a motive would have been.
HAS ZIMER: A wrote the part for working title
SCOTT FEINBERG: And isn’t that just amazingly how the dots connect, isn’t that what brought you to the attention of Barrington Livingstone arraignment.
HANS ZIMMER: Yes very much so I did the world apart because #1 I love it, #2 they were my friend #3 I wanted to do a movie all by myself and I don’t think I slept through the whole period just from nerves and then Barry(name) and Dianna Hart saw the move and she bought him the CD that’s the thing before downloads and after the black thing.
And she bought him the CD and he was working on Rain Man and he really liked it and he was in London promoting American movie Vietnam he didn’t have my phone number or anything but somehow had the address to my little studio and one evening 11’oclock at night there was a knock on my door and there was a guy standing there and he said hi, my name if Barry Livingston I am a director from Hollywood or something like that and I went yeah you and my mom both and then I looked behind him and down a tiny little alley are 2 enormous limos are squashed and you know London isn’t the place where you have enormous limos and I thought maybe there is something to this guy.
So I invited him and we started talking and I showed him how I worked and you know he said would I come would I consider going to Hollywood and doing this movie with him and of course I said yes and I really didn’t know anybody over here so.
SCOTT FEINBERG: And you had some reservations right sounds like what from what I have read that you weren’t so sure that this was a terrific place to be for a young artist.
HANS ZIMMER: Well no, no my whole thing was that of course I wanted to come to Hollywood of course I wanted to come and do those movies that I loved and be part of that but, I didn’t want to go until somebody asked me until I had a proper job, job offer because I really, this is an amazing shot of electric light and blue the very last shot where the camera pulls back and back and back and end this world in monumental valley and to an European this country is so big and endless as can be.
You know I would just get lost you know I didn’t want to come to Los Angeles and be lost and e a really, really bad waiter and so arriving with something to do and actually work to do was great and I didn’t know where to work and I did the whole school in Barry’s office which he really liked it actually became my favourite way of working.
The cutting room and the compose in the same place and we just exchange ideas and we you know the music informs the cut and the cut informs the music in various organic way and I know Barry really liked that way of working.
SCOTT FEINBERG: Sure and it does seemed that once you were here and even in the period immediately before you were here you sort of had this amazing streak to hit the ground running because from what I understand you were a score producer on the Last Time Parade and you then do Rain Man and driving Miss Daisy that’s back to back best picture winners that’s pretty amazing.
HANS ZIMMER: Yes that true actually the Last Emperor was very much, well I was there helping our picking up the pieces it was, let me put it this way it was a really international production where nobody spoke the same language and luckily I could straddle some of those languages where some Chinese composure could speak to me in German because he had stuff in Berlin and I knew (20:54) from orchestra from my rock and roll days so you know we had that and (21:01 name).
Somehow I was the right guy to sort of bridge many gaps and poor Davis Berner I just shoved him up into the office we developed space into the studio and you know and ignored him most of the time he seemed pretty self sufficient.
SCOTT FEINBERG: And after the string of early success here I imagined suddenly your fear of coming here and having nothing to do was probably quickly gone because I think people were even if the fear wasn’t gone the reality was that I believe quickly after that you were in demand and so that begs the question I always wonder because you I think anybody would like to work with you at this point and so the question is how do you decide whether or not to take on a specific film.
HANS ZIMMER: It was all pretty simple, if you look I can tell you if you are talking about those movies I can tell you exactly what happen so finished Rain Man went back to England go an Oscar nomination, wow this is pretty exciting so I came over for the Oscar Awards had a you know had a lunch and a week off hanging out and Whitney Scott was in town so I had breakfast with him and I said you know what are you up to and he said I am working on this Black Rain movie it is about Japan and this and the other and we just having ideas and he said do you want to do it.
I said sure and I think that afternoon I met the (22:41) because I love the play Driving Miss Daisy as the play and it was of the same conversation, do you have any ideas I did have an idea you know like with Ridley I didn’t know what he was doing but we developed an idea pretty much during this breakfast, with (name) I came in with an idea and I think at the end of the day the whole point is you know if you had an idea its wonderful people will want to listen you know.
They like you having ideas and then what did I do after that oh I did (23:26) and Tony you know was an old friend Tony actually offered me my first movie in Hollywood except his producer went Has who,.
SCOTT FEINBERG: Which was Ted Connors.
HANS ZIMMER: Revenge. But Toney talked to Rock Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer to meeting me and they were shooting in Daytona Beach and I flew down to Daytona for this quick meeting and by the end of the meeting they went great but the problem is we are under real time pressure you can’t go back to London you can’t go back to LA it but it would be much more efficient if we build you a studio right here.
I got one T Shirt, don’t worry wardrobe is going to take care of that and they did trust me they truly did you know.
SCOTT FEINBERG: and that was the beginning of all that ongoing still relationship.
HANS ZIMMER: And so you are asking how do you pick them you know with Tony it was obvious, Tony was a friend you know he was a dangerous friend because he got always asked the impossible put you on a ledge and give you a good shove and it was always an adventure but the thing was we always had a laugh and so actually I never thought about this but if you think about it so these first movies other than Barry Lemons there/they were always foreigners.
(25:12)being so you know 5’oclok come on time to have a martini, you know Bruce Beresford Australia Tony Ridley’s brother we got up to some really crazy times so it was all about the adventure really, and the other thing for me was you know I had all these things about you know how difficult Howard Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer would be and I sort of had this though that if I could survive them I could survive anything and it turns out that they were complete gentlemen.
I mean there was like a form to they build me the studio in this really bad neighbourhood in an old AT&T building and literally it was like a gun battle going on with policeman chasing it was a druggy neighbourhood with bullet holes in Jerry’s office window but it was like a chase going on throughout, but they would come in and I would play them something and then there would be like a 20 second silence and then either Don or Jerry with this very articulate sentence about piece of music and finally I went hang on a second .
What’s the silence about and tome said to me look we know that you put a lot of work into this so we just feel we need to think before we speak you know out of respect and I went that’s not the guys I had thought about, so that’s really how they work and I think if you ask anybody on those crews you know if you ask anybody on Tony Scott’s screw I mean we would have gone and we did and he made us go to the end of the road.
My first conversation with Tony was hey man you ride motor cycles, actually no I don’t it doesn’t matter I will take you we’ll go into the dessert we will listen to the dessert, I mean it was like hey, you ever gone par shoot jumping, no, Tony I don’t really want to, suddenly I am finding myself tied to some instructor jumping out of a plane you know and somehow this was all in service of you know let’s find the tone for the movie you know.
SCOTT FEINBERG: Well you said you talked about the importance of the idea how people respond to the idea and this maybe an impossible question to answer, but in your experience what are the source of your inspiration of your ideas do you find that its ever is dreams as it experiences where did it come from.
HANS ZIMMER: Myth fairy tales, psychology, it is always a conversation with the director always a conversation with the director listening to him telling you the story of what he is trying to make he is telling you the film you are sitting there desperately trying to come up with a theme that he can’t say in words or images plus he thinks about things in a different way.
A musician thinks about something that resonates for musician you know and so you try to find the solution for all of the movie and you try to figure out how to express that you know maybe in a way that hasn’t been done before.
SCOTT FEINBERG: You have done that a lot though by coming up with sound that didn’t exist then.
HANS ZIMMER: I think that there are two types of composer there are composer who you know maybe because he has an academic background or something so he is trying to find his voice or he is constantly working on his voice and developing his style while with me it is complete anakey (29:50)and look at the stuff I did with Rigby sounds different from sounds on the wheels you know.
Hey lets go and do this great base guitar player and then you know and lets go there let’s not have any orchestra, just because I thought it was appropriate for this movie and because I was interested in it, it is the old New Guinea thing where he said only two types of music good music and bad music you know. I mean if you want me to do country & western psychedelic heavy metal I will do it because we haven’t tried it.
Sometimes I fail and sometimes I need saving and one of the things which I think is sort of extraordinary about Hollywood is that they know you need to push the envelope and sometimes it will fail and it will be there to help you out I mean I did a movie called Power of One for (30:55) and Steve Ruthon and I had this idea that I wanted to do it all on client(31:00), the movie was about Africa and so here I was working with all these ….and it just sounded like (31:11) and I spend a lot of money and I went to see Steve Lawnen and I said I am really sorry guys I don’t think it is working and the original idea was about Africa cant you do something like out of Africa with the lush orchestra and I said I think I will go and do your first idea and they said no we love your idea the only mistake you are making is that you are not in Africa and this was on a Thursday and on Monday I was in Africa with an amazing choir you know.
So this idea of putting forward some whatever it is and then actually having people that support you and I need a lot of support and a lot of help and actually making that come through I think that is a remarkable thing.
SCOTT FEINBERG: Is there, this one maybe a little silly but is there a do you have a favourite sound.
HANS ZIMMER: Oh god, if you knew what was going through my head like, not really its like look what’s going through my head I think it’s like I really wanted to drop a piano off a really sky scraper and just have a microphone inside and the wind you know vibrating the strings I don’t know.
SCOTT FEINBERG: That would be interesting.
HANS ZIMMMER: I haven’t quite done that yet.
SCOTT ZIMMER: Jerry Bruckheimer should be able to make that.
HANS ZIMMER: Well we just bought a piano I am sure and Foxes underground (inaudible)
SCOTT FEINBERG: Well this year alone I’ve watch can’t count how many movies 5 movies, Rush, Lone Ranger, Twelve Years of Slave, A Man of Steel what’s the fifth I lose count.
HANS ZIMMER: There isn’t a fifth I think that’s it.
SCOTT FEINBERG: Just 4 okay.
HANS ZIMMER: I try not to look back you know it just shows that you didn’t get enough sleep.
SCOTT FEINBERG: Well this is exactly what I want to ask you about because you I think at this point has nothing left to prove to anyone but yourself unless you want to you know and I just want to know, why do you push yourself as hard as you do and remain as prolific as you are.
HANS ZIMMER: Probably because it is not work it is play we play music and I like dragging the director in you know in a funny way even though he doesn’t play instrument he is so proud of the band and it’s that whole you know what I mean those projects you know like Man of Steel is great because he had the idea of 12 of the best dramas in room you know that’s exciting and what’s more exciting is the medal steel players you know.
Rush was really good going back to my roots and having just you know all I can say is I love how wrong and great this hall of aesthetic of okay we are going to do an Indie movie now you know and it was really working with my old friends in England and then making it like a band and really the Rush if 12 Year a Slave the movie which I have done really in an intimate way. I mean 12 Years of Slave is one cello one violin is truly astonishingly fabulous composer musician brain whatever in Benjamin bowl fish who came on board you know myself playing the piano whatever it was and Steve and so it was this very private very personable very intimate setting to go and work on this movie which at first it was because I thought was impossible and impossible to do and then you know Steve just comes into the room and he doesn’t even have to say anything you just know what to do.
You know what’s right and what’s wrong and Joe Walker has added who is a great musician and writer he went to Rome college of Music he is far more qualified than I am so you have these conversations and that’s the part I find exciting I mean at the end of the day, yes I still have a lot to prove to myself that but on the other hand the thing is I just love the excitement of being and working with all musicians.
I think music comes alive when you have people playing and chip in you know if you have extraordinary musicians they are I mean they really you know the Britty use to say they give wings to my music I mean they give flight absolutely true and so you try to surround yourself with these people and I mean this room is very much about that and we just kick the furniture out you know and we sit down and I think of some tune and it very quickly metamorphosis into something because of them, not because of me I owe everything to the musicians I work with.
I owe everything to the writers and the cinematographers because you know I get such a sense of what the music should be from cinematography the light the colours everything.
SCOTT FEINBERG: So is that to say that you will always see footage before you write your music or you sometimes write and they come up with the footage.
HANS ZIMMER: No, you know I mean for instance the way we worked on Rush and the way I work with Chris I work from the word and the conversation and then like I spoke to Zack yesterday he said you got to come down to our bunker and see the yard work you got to come down you got to see what we are doing, you got to see the colours you got to.
SCOTT FEINBERG: That’s for the next one.
HANS ZIMMER: Yes you know like Chris is working with a new DP and I started writing I went to I started writing quite a while ago actually one of the things I said to him you have to give me a colour palate I don’t know what it is you know, and he goes I don’t even know the colour palate.
SCOTT FEINBERG: Why is the colour palate important to you for the music?
HANS ZIMMER: Because you know look if you really want to be boring and pedantic you know light and sound are the same thing just a different part of the spectrum so just to me and I you know feel that quite acutely that you know the wrong harmony or the cord or the wrong impression or whatever just doesn’t work with a certain colour palate.
Thin red line we discuss endlessly that there was going to be no red in the movie although the blood and then there is a shot of puppies and then freaking out you promised me you know what are these puppies doing there.
SCOTT FEINBERG: And then as of that my understanding is that it was uniquely challenging too which is that didn’t you do something like 6 ½ hours of music.
HANS ZIMMER: Recorded 61/2 hours of music
SCOTT FEINBERG: Yes and that was so that you can find within that what you wanted it to be.
HANS ZIMMER: It is not just him it’s me too and you know and it’s like thin red line led me into certain direction that I had never gone in to before and it’s a direction I keep exploring. Thin red line and inception and 12 years of slave you know stylistically they are similar and it’s the constant search for like the formats I don’t know the thing that, how can I something at the tip of my tongue I can’t quite figure out how to say it.
SCOTT FEINBERG: And even consciously or subconsciously isn’t there an element of the inception score that recurs in the 12 years of slave score.
HANS ZIMMER: Not really its stylistically yes I mean that’s different notes but you know I am trying to whittle away and try to make things as translucent and as possible can you know and yes it is just a way of, I mean try to find a really clear clean line into something you know that I haven’t quite been able to say.
SCOTT FEINBERG: Well when you working on so many things lest take this year you got this 4 movies, was there over lap when you working on them or do you finish one and then go on to the other do you.
HANS ZIMMER: There is over lapping as I think about things but there isn’t much over lap as you think like we finished man of steel way ahead of schedule somehow because it was just a very you know just people who knew what they were doing and there was no panicking.
You want to work with people who know how to commit know how to say yeas and know how to say no and then things move really smoothly, you are going to work with people who change their minds, really I do that enough sitting I mean the only reason I am saying there isn’t this much overlap between Inception and 12 Years of Slave because you think. I remember sitting there forever find those Inception notes and then I sat there forever finding you know within the vocabulary you know with that style a bunch of notes for 12 Years of Slave.
But you know they are different and because they are different because we are telling a different story and we are telling it from a different angle from what a different sensibility.
SCOTT FEINBERG: So on a average what is the span of a period that you work on a score generally.
HANS ZIMMER: I try to make it longer and longer I mean as I said I started out with (43:11) in January and then I put it aside and now I am in the middle of Spiderman and as soon as I finish Spider I think all I am going to do for most of next year is working on (43:35) and I am not even looking at anything else right now I just really want to throw myself into it.
SCOTT FEINBERG: And is that because you feel a particular responsibility with Chris Nolan score I mean you guys have a great history now between the dark night movies and Inception and it’s almost like and I think everyone who goes to those movies would say that maybe they come out with a greater appreciation of the roll of music in a film that they have for the movies.
HANS ZIMMER: That because Chris turns the music up too loud, no, no I don’t think first of all I just like work I like hanging out with them. I like talking to them and you know we talk about our kids you know I mean we talk about painting, we talk about all sorts of things you know and then sometime we talk a little about the movie. We talk about things we like I think we like each other’s company.
SCOTT FEINBERG: How did that relationship first begin between the two?
HAS ZIMMER: He phoned me up and say would I do would I meet with him about Batman Begins and really honestly I really didn’t want to do Batman Begins you know because I dint know how to do this thing of he is one person by night the Jackal and Hyde aspect of that you know and it was Chris’s idea who said why don’t you do it with somebody else.
Do it with a colleague you know and I though great and (45:33) James Eaton Howard and I have always talked about maybe doing something together because it is a musician thing we both come from playing in bands and suddenly we are composer and we sit in a room all by ourselves for most of our lives and you know whenever we get together we start playing its fun its great you know it’s what music is all about.
So I asked James if he go and you know come on this adventure and I mean he huge chunks of Batman Begins James you know and in anything that displays any sensitivity any grace and any beauty is James.
SCOTT FEINBERG: How do two or more than two and in some cases I know you have had more than that so how do multiple composers work on a film together do you are you there together for everything.
HANS ZIMMER: On Batman Begins we were truly there together and with everything, let’s see what it would be like you know James would be playing something and my hand would come through and what about this and so everything was influenced by everybody else but I realized quite early on and he realized it too and we never really spoke about it but, you know I was heading towards the dark side you know and so by the time it came to do Dark Night I totally embraced you know the dark side.
And you know Chris systematically killed off all of James character, I was left holding a baby as it were for that one but, you know look James had laid down all these ground rules before we started working not in a deductive way but he was explaining to me his process that he gets up early his studio at 7’oclock in the evening he is done you know and he takes the week end off etc.
And so we both after London we and oh the other thing and he need a self proof room and you know you can’t listen to what he is experimenting and you know he will away from it so we both arrived in London we have studios facing each other sound proof room and I think the first evening we got home at 1’oclock in the morning and after a week the doors were just always open and you know at 3’oclock in the morning I am sitting there going come on James can we go now.
SCOTT FEINBERG: Because you generally are a late night worker, right.
HANS ZIMMER: Exactly, and there was this, I wasn’t leading him astray it was exciting and it was fun and it was like full of energy.
SCOTT FEINBERG: How do you know when you are done like the score.
HANS FEINBERG: We had one more session on Dark Night Rises and it was really late at night and I think we worked all day and this was 10pm to 1am like one of those and I am sitting on the couch and I am thinking I think I better go now I think I am going to faint I got this smile on my face you know but you know the orchestra is tuning up and I can’t get from the couch to the console out to actually give them direction I am sitting on this couch and I am going to collapse now and I see Chris looking over at me and I smile and he gets up and he goes over to the console and he pressed the top button and he said see you I think we got to call it off.
And I go no, no we still have to do it you know like all sort of unimportant things he goes no I think we have done enough, I think he saved my life, you know I think part of why you know it’s never perfect and it is not about oh, it’s good enough this is good as you can make it at this moment in my life.
Hey wait there is more there is more life there is another movie there is another story I get to tell you know and that’s why and it is very important for me to work on different project because a man of steel and 12 years of slave couldn’t be more different than one sense of humour you know do you always want to eat steak.
So it is really and it’s important to work with different people and the more, the older I get I realized that what I want to do is to work with the people who I adore and that I love you know you want to work with your friends you want to do that because why are they your friends because the stories that they are compelled to tell are stories that resonate.
So you know Steven McQueen and I we wanted to work together sort of forever timing didn’t work out which might answer your question about do I have things piling up do I multitask, well I don’t multitask we I mean 12 years of slave is very disciplined its notes I leave out that makes it good and it is very much about really truly serving this film serving the performances serving Steve his vision serving the sub text and the text of the story you know and at the same time trying to find a way of having a little bit of me in it.
SCOTT FEINBERG: The last things I can quickly bother you with these are sort of the first things that comes to you questions. First I want to ask you about this location, what is the history of this location why do you, like what is within it and why is it so productive for you so conducive to productivity for you.
HANS ZIMMER: The location well next door is Jackson Brown studio and one day I trek across Jackson Brown studio and I see there was there was a warehouse for sale next door, so hey plus everybody say we are mad guys you want to do Hollywood movies why are you moving to Santa Monica you need to be in Hollywood but I though the air was better and so we moved down here and then Jerry Bruckheimer came down and he saw what we were doing and he said, oh this is very cool and then James Steven Hart came and then Michael Bay from the corner so it became this, Jay Abrahams so it becomes this little community you know Hollywood west.
SCOTT FEINBERG: And you spend so many hours here it has got to be somewhere you feel at home I guess right.
HANS ZIMMER: Not just me, but it really came from working with Tim Brooks on as good as it gets. I had no idea how to, I was really banging my head against the wall and the wall wasn’t giving of how to solve the Jack Nicholson character and I finally fess up the Jim and I said Jim I got nothing so what are you doing this week end do you want to come over and we just plunk around on the piano and Jim’s couch and it is still there and it was supposed to be one day but it turned out to be 3 or 4 days sitting on the couch and just me getting over this sort of I don’t know fear everybody has of creating in front of somebody.
In a funny way that’s what musicians do we do we improvised we come from improvised music you know just take a deep breath plant your feet firmly on the ground and you go, and so Jim and I figured out how to approach the character and so the space became very much about that and its big enough that musicians can come in and can try things and then you know what surrounds my room.
Many other composers young composers I am the old kind but it wasn’t like that it was always just this collective of ideas and musicians helping each other out and somebody plays really good guitar even if they happened to be a film composer Ramin Javader is a really good guitarist. John Kexale who just did 300 for sec I mean I dent even know he could play and plunking some base line.
I think the notes are good but it is sounding pathetic and he goes here give me that and my note you know came to live so it’s this sort of thing that we can ask each other we can influenced each other we can help each other and I think the greatest help in a funny way is the psychological thing is that you are not so alone with your demons.
I was walking down this corridor and you see somebody else with that look in their eyes of sheer terror and you go hang on this guy is really good he knows what he is doing you know he will solve it I will solve it you know we will all figure it out.
SCOTT FEINBERG: You have been recognized at virtually every award as film composer can received and yet you said I read this quote, “I so couldn’t care less about awards” and you even withdrew your name from consideration for the Oscar a few years ago and I just wondered how did you come to feel that way.
HANS ZIMMER: Because I had to because its, how long an answer do you want for me the thing is the process working with people do the music working with the musicians and then that’s a magic moment when you show it to them, when you show the real audience for the first time and wow, it communicates it resonates you know that’s great.
So that’s really but, I remember you know Lion King winning the Oscar walking down there getting on that stage being terrified of being able to speak in public you know I get really bad stage freight and I look out there and everybody is applauding and I feel this wave of adoration coming towards me and the devil in me says, woo this feels pretty good and the devil goes if you write pretty music like that again you can maybe come back and get one of those little gold things.
And I remember exactly this voice in my head said and their lives ruined, you know and that’s what it is you know it’s like if that’s what you want it’s all over and you know we don’t need to name, names and forgot I can’t even think of a name but I know the periphery of my vision you know people who you think of as great artist as great integrity who sort of somehow make fools of themselves up there up there right big time because it’s you know .
You have to remember we forget not talking about the actors, the actors know how to do this but us backroom boys we are like a shy little lot that sits in our little rooms, we are not glamorous or anything like this we just like the work you know we just like the craft we just like the you know rolling up our sleeves and you know so when you put us out there we don’t quite know how to defend ourselves and you know it is so easy to buy into the wrong path.
It really is, it is to do it is important to be aware of you know to not make the first impact and let me just say something about that Oscar night, so yes it was seductive but I did find my bearing but I did go on to every party and you know the thing wasn’t quite mine I would leave it on tables and waiters would say, hey I think you forgot this and I was out until like 5, 6 in the morning and then I came in here and you know and I had a meeting with Tony Jerry and Don on the movie we were working on and I played them the first piece of music and they went I don’t think this works and it was yeah we are back you know and weirdly I don’t think this works .
It is much more interesting than of winning or getting adoration or whatever I don’t think this works, woo there is a problem problems are interesting, woo we can go and invent something we better you know let’s bring the A game to us.
SCOTT FEINBERG: Last question I promise is when you I know you say not an official student of music but as a student of somebody who knows the history of music in movies and can appreciate it better than just about anyone, what are the most iconic film scores that you have heard the ones that people still would be talking about 100 years from now and part B which of the Hans Zimmer scores the many of them stands the best shot of being among them and I know you will try to give an humble answer but I want to be honest.
Like I think that any objective will count you as the best among the best so which would be among that lot once you identify that.
HABS ZIMER: I think that legend at lunch time is as far as it goes. No, okay best film music I change my mind on this on a daily basis but there are some consistent ones this is not best this is the ones I love. Any amount of coating, once upon a time in America, Randy Newman I belonged which I actually listened to again yesterday just had this urge have to listen to have a long again, John Berick, Killer memorandum and any of his James Bond things, John Williams close encounters weirdly he didn’t say Superman and close encounter to me is a good a piece of concert music as the 20th century as produced you know so and I think everybody fixates on da da da its like everybody fixate you know I just went through this the superman fan fare or star wars main theme or Radars… it’s what happens after that it’s not the big popular hunk where you go my god John Williams is a genius.
You know it’s the stuff which is maybe less hooky and less horrible but its great art and you know anything Henry Mancini ever did great Georgie Morado Midnight Express the first time I saw him listened I didn’t know you could do that, I didn’t know you could do film music in that way.
From Galaxy turns of fire I mean I am just firing off the top off my head the Dan Busters march you know if you want to have fun Henry Marty greatest hits double over and there is a single bad tune every tune is great you know just revolutionary stuff, chemical brothers Hannah I think was fantastic, Johnny Greenwood you know just give me another there will be you know Tent Vesnor is moving forward its always expanding.
SCOTT FEINBERG: And now the tough part though a hundred years from now which Hans Zimmer scores people are going to talk about the most.
HANS ZIMMER: I don’t know you know here is the cool thing 100 years I don’t care, I think Thin Red Line is good work you know I think it is good work. I think I know we change landscape with Batman Trilogy. I think people sick of it, I think people sick of that style they want something new I don’t know.
SCOTT FEINBERG: You wouldn’t say Inception.
HANS ZIMMER: Yes Inception is good, Inception was great because of the experience it was very hard for me to say oh, this is good music and separate from the experience, I think both gladiator (inaudible 1:16:10) I don’t know when we did it first and Joe Campbell I said to her you know I want to treat this as a romantic comedy he has a way of cocking his eye brow he go oh yeah really and I actually think it is pretty good I think it turned out pretty well.
The pirate stuff is just because people love, you know what I love about pirate is a lot of school orchestras play it and I think that’s something great about because I had such a miserable time with my music lessons and I like that I have written some music that kids actually like playing you know so that’s why I like band I am not a comic on ecology I can just talk about a few I like playing it then there must be something to it.
It is a weird thing this music thing I write music and now we live in this day and age of the internet where you know you are flooded with information you flooded with, you see what’s out there I really notice this you know by the time you got to the third Batman you feel what the fans are feeling and they are not anonymous anymore and suddenly you find you are having this, your music is having this intimate conversation with somebody you have never meet but it is nonetheless this weird dialog you are having and I love that what we do.
You touch people’s hearts you provoke them you make them angry you make them laugh you know, I don’t know I am in the league of to make them laugh. Penny said to me she overheard this kid at the movie coming out of the movie said to his dad, hey if they play music like this at ball games I would really love to go and see baseball more. That’s cool.
SCOTT FEINBERG: That’s great well I can’t thank you enough first of all for all the dozens of hours of music that I have enjoyed and for this that’s wonderful.
HANS ZIMMER: Look writing the music has been the pleasure and working with these musicians has been great life.
SCOTT FEINBERG: Well thank you so much I really appreciate it.