Michael Giacchino is the Oscar®-winning composer behind some of your favourite film and TV themes, including Rogue One, Lost, Up, Jurassic World, War for the Planet of the Apes and The Incredibles, as well as the latest Star Trek films.
Who/what inspired you to become a film composer?
My father had a fantastic record collection and I was constantly pouring through it. I listened to everything: big band, jazz, orchestral, mariachi, and even John Phillip Sousa’s marching band pieces. I loved it all. So couple that with being obsessed with the movies, and that’s how I ended up where I am, I guess. I grew up in a golden age: Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and E.T., not to mention all the amazing old films I watched on TV. I spent Saturdays watching monster movies. I was exposed to King Kong, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and of course Planet of the Apes. Back then, the only way you could relive the movie, was to buy the soundtrack or do what I did: bring a tape recorder into the theatre to record the film. I would then listen to it over and over, playing it before I went to sleep at night.
From early on, I was fascinated by the way in which the music worked within the story. When I started buying soundtracks, I would read the liner notes, and learned about all the different instruments, why the horn was here, what the flute meant to represent there. It was fun to dissect all of that, I was soaking it all in. These experiences definitely informed what I do today.
What would you say to the 10-year-old Michael Giacchino? And what do you think he’d say to you?
I would ask the 10-year old Michael Giacchino what possessed him to wear a Star Trek red shirt on the first day of school.
I think the 10-year old me would want to know what it was like to be in Star Wars, playing a Storm Trooper in The Force Awakens.
Is there a score or a piece of music you’re most proud of?
I have been fortunate to have worked on so many films that I have personally loved, directed by people that are passionate about their work. I can’t really say that I have one score that I am most “proud” of, I just try to do my best to serve the story being told. But if I have to name a project in particular I would say that Lost will always hold a special place in my heart because it was a six year journey with a cast and crew that really developed a special bond.
Do you have any tips for up-and-coming composers?
Composers who want to write film music should definitely take a few film classes. It is really helpful to understand the language and to understand storytelling. Filmmaking is one of the most collaborative art forms and it is essential to have a basic knowledge of what the other people are doing on the project. A film composer can’t work in a vacuum.