Hi this is Matt Reeves, Director and Michael Giacchino (/u/MichaelGiacchino), Composer. We are really excited about our latest project, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes opening July 11th. Our previous films together were Cloverfield and Let Me In. We were both huge fans of the original Planet of the Apes when we were kids so you can imagine what a thrill it was to have the opportunity to work on the latest installment together. Ask us anything…about Apes, films, scores, whatever! Victoria's helping us out.


EDIT Thanks everyone for showing such interest in our work, and we are lucky to have fans like you to interact with, and sorry we couldn't get to everyone. And we really hope that you like the movie! And the music.

Comments: 234 • Responses: 31  • Date: 

crazeenuthead14 karma

@Matt Reeves: With "Dawn" you are taking the apes to a whole new level. They speak more fluently, they are developing a culture, and so on. I also imagine that the third film will be even harder to pull off, and further sequels even more-so. What ideas have you thought of to help tackle this in future PotA films?

Also, "Dawn" roughly corresponds to "Battle" from the original movies, and the next film chronologically is the 1968 film, which takes place 2,000 years from "Battle". So this new series will likely lead into a parallel for Taylor's story from the 1968 film, but I imagine that this will not happen until maybe a fourth or even fifth installment. If so, do you have any ideas for how you might fill this gap?

@Michael Giacchino: I am really looking forward to the score from you, especially after hearing your other works. Your theme for 2009's Star Trek was one of the most memorable themes out of all of the movies I've seen. Is there anything special that you did with your score for Planet of the Apes, and do you hope to return as composer for future PotA films as well?

Thanks! :D

Matt_Reeves18 karma

One of the things i find exciting about the Apes universe is knowing that the 68 film is the trajectory that we are moving toward. And what I loved about RISE, and what I wanted to do in DAWN, was to continue Ceasar's story. And for me the exciting story to tell is about Ceasar as the seminal mythic figure in early Ape history, that he is like their Moses, and I think that the Ape story is one that will be a mythic extension of that, and there will be future Ceasars, it's a generational story, and the question is - how do we get from the world of RISE and DAWN to the world of the 68 film which is so radically different? And the chapters of that story are the chapters I am interested in telling, and that's why I came onboard.

MichaelGiacchino13 karma

Well, yes, one of the fun things we did was we took Alfred Newman's piano (you can google him, 20th Century Fox composer) we took his piano that he wrote on and we prepared it - we put all kinds of metal screws in it, so that when you played it it didn't sound like a real piano, it sounded strange and otherworldly. And so that was something we did, we took regular instruments and did weird things with them, that was the main thing. And we also tried to make sure that we didn't lose sight of any of the emotion that the film had built into it already - you can make things strange and weird, but you never want to lose sight of what's important which is the emotions, and the character.

And if Matt asks me, I will return to anything Matt asks me to return to.

Matt_Reeves27 karma

Wait! I am asking him right now!

Rstanz12 karma

Mr. Reeves. Can you go into how you go about selecting aspect ratios? Is it more cost effective to shoot 1.85:1 vs 2.35:1? It seems some directors, yourself included, can squeeze every dime out of their budget, and it shows up on screen(like Cloverfield costing 30 million with jaw dropping production value) while others spend 250 million leaving me wondering where all the money went. Budgets have always interested me. Especially when it comes to CGI.

On Dawn, for example, how much does WETA charge for a rendering of Ceaser? Is it cheaper if they already have the models and data from the first film? Thanks! Can't wait for Friday!

Mr. Giacchino , you are truly the best hope film music has for the future. Most movies seem to lack the major motif driven films of the John Williams era. It just doesn't seem like composers are concerned with writing memorable themes that stay with audiences. Is that just the changing of the times? I've heard studios aren't keen on big John Williams-esque themes anymore. How difficult is it to come up with a great motif like your Incredibles theme or the main "Up" motif. You are the exception to the rule that film music isn't what it once was. I can't hum a single superhero theme from the last 5 years, I know that's a simple way of looking at it, but I miss the motif driven compositions of Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, early James Horner. You and Howard Shore are about the only two who seem to really go that extra mile. Thanks and keep doing what you are doing!

Matt_Reeves20 karma

So I wanted to shoot the film in anamorphic 2.35:1. But we couldn't do that, because of 3D. Because in 3D the lenses have to match perfectly and they are only now coming up with 3D matched lenses that will allow you to shoot 2.35:1. And the reason I wanted to shoot anamorphic, 2.35:1 was the aspect ratio but also because the depth of field is more shallow, and I think makes for a more intimate and realistic visual approach. And when it turned out that I could not shoot anamorphic, the only way to shoot with the kind of depth of field that I wanted was to shoot in 1.85:1. Because (and this is so technical) but in order to shoot super 35, which is NON-anamorphic, I would have had to have used wider lenses, which would have made for a different kind of depth of field than I wanted. So I shot 1.85:1 so I could get the kind of depth of field that I wanted.

And it would have cost more money, probably, to shoot the film in anamorphic and render the ape effects - it would have been more expensive. And actually no, because they rebuilt everything from the ground up for Ceasar to make it better. WETA sort of makes an overall deal, and tries to give you the best value they can give you, but there were 1,000 artists working on the film, and the overhead for that is basically a small village, so it works out to roughly around somewhere to $50-60,000 per 5 seconds of a shot of apes. Broadly, broadly.

CaptainDaveo10 karma


Matt_Reeves9 karma

Well, it depends on whether you mean the world premiere date versus the release date. For the premiere, I would say we finished the movie about 3 days before we showed it in San Francisco. I know that Peter Jackson, when he did the Hobbit, literally came with one of the finished FX shots with him and brought it to add to the premiere, but in terms of a wide release, it usually requires a few weeks "DCPs" (which are the hard drives and the release prints). It takes some time to copy it so it can be released widely. But in terms of the premiere you can finish up to the last minute.

osasunista9 karma

Hi Matt,

Cloverfield is the only movie I ever went to see four times at the cinema. It was so immersive. I just watched Rise of the Planet of the Apes today and I thought it was wonderful, even the 2nd time around. Did you have any hesitation about taking over after the brilliant job that Rupert Wyatt did?

Also was it intentional for us to WANT the guy behind the camera in Cloverfield to die? Thanks!

Matt_Reeves14 karma

HAHAHA! I loved what Rupert did. And Rupert had left the film before I was asked to do it, so I had no qualms about doing it because I knew he wasn't going to be doing it. And I had been a lifelong Planet of the Apes fan, LOVED Rise, and was very excited to do it. And as far as Cloverfield, I think Hud would be very sad to know that you wanted him to die.

liamquane8 karma


Was HUD always going to be killed?

Matt_Reeves9 karma

Yes. Yes he was. Hud was always going to be killed. Hud was always going to be eaten. There was some debate about whether or not Hud should be eaten, but he was always meant to be eaten, and it was one of the things Drew (who wrote the script) was most passionate about, and I was a staunch ally of his on that. We fought for Hud's death, we wanted to kill Hud.

MattBonner_AMA6 karma


Matt_Reeves11 karma

I think if you want to be a filmmaker that you need to find a story that you have to tell, and then you've got to go out there and tell it any way you can, even if it means making it yourself and paying for it yourself and you just have to let people see what you're passionate about. And I think the most important trait that a director or filmmaker can have is tenacity. You have to decide you're going to stick at it, until you get there.

I_Need_To_Go_To_Bed4 karma

Were you guys prepared for the amazingly great outpouring of critical acclaim for the film? Also, Michael, do you prefer the Incredibles soundtrack or the Speed Racer soundtrack (two of my favorite films)?

Matt_Reeves5 karma

I don't think you ever prepare for how people are going to respond, you just do the best you can. And I'm really excited by the response so far. But the truth is that very few people have seen the movie and I really hope that when the movie comes out and everyone sees it, that that enthusiasm continues.

WetPopcorn4 karma


Matt_Reeves9 karma

Well, I will say this: my favorite film I've seen thus far this year is The Immigrant by James Grey, which I think is a magnificent film. And the film that I'm actually dying to see is Foxcatcher, by Bennett Miller. That looks so cool to me.

Matt_Reeves13 karma

And I really want to see Boyhood!!!

kistner34 karma

Hey Matt and Michael,

Was wondering what your thoughts are on Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)?

Personally, I'm a fan and the film (the ending with the telepathic humans) scarred me when I was young.

Matt_Reeves5 karma

We both loved that movie!

Matt_Reeves7 karma

When they took off their faces and prayed to the bomb, that was one of the scarring moments of my childhood, so I can thank Beneath for that. And I had a reel of excerpts from that movie on 8 MM, and I watched that until the sprokets broket.

CaptainDaveo4 karma


Matt_Reeves17 karma

Well, I really don't know. I hope the next big trend is emphasis on story and characters that you care, about to be honest.

NickvanLieshout3 karma

Matt - As a fan of Planet of the Apes, it must be surreal for you to have directed an installment in one of your favorite franchises. My question is are there any other properties or famous stories you would love to tackle in the future? And if so, which ones are they?

Michael - Alongside John Powell, you're one of my favorite film composers to emerge in the past ten or so years. I'm wondering if there's anything you tell us about Tomorrowland, Inside Out, or Jurassic World musically speaking? I know you didn't take John Williams' role composing for the new Star Wars film, but it must feel just as daunting to take on the themes of Jurassic Park.

Matt_Reeves10 karma

It was definitely surreal, because it was a series that I had loved since I was a child. And there aren't really other projects that I am thinking of at the moment, because I'm so immersed in the Ape world. I'm going to be doing the next film! Michael's writing me jokes, he's telling me Three's Company or Happy Days. Wait, actually, maybe those should be my next projects... And I think it might be great to see Andy Serkis as "The Fonz."

billybob9983 karma

to both - was the end of Apes 1968 a shock/surprise to you or did you have it spoiled before you first saw the movie?

MichaelGiacchino3 karma

Oh it was SHOCK, a SHOCK for me. I was completely freaked out when I saw it, I couldn't believe it. It sounds cliche to say it, but it completely blew my mind. It was one of the earliest times that I even thought about time travel and the repercussions of it, because it was so strange to me, for me I spent days thinking about it and talking to my friends, and trying to figure it out and discussing it - I loved that about that movie.

Matt_Reeves2 karma

I was definitely shocked. I think it's one of cinema's most memorable endings. No spoilers.

liamquane3 karma

Mr. Reeves you are a very inspiring filmmaker to me. Cloverfield is the greatest monster film i have ever seen and that is thanks to it's incredible use of music and direction. can I ask what was it like working on that film? how hard was it to keep the details secret? who could you tell if anyone?

Matt_Reeves4 karma

That was incredibly fun to make. And thank you so much, I'm so glad you like it. It wasn't that hard to keep it secret because at the time, even the trailer for the film came out, we were still figuring out what the movie was, and so the most terrifying thing was knowing we had made a trailer for a film that didn't yet exist. It was an exhilarating experience. The shoot was very fast, it was like a low-budget movie. It was terrifying to think we didn't know what was going to work, because no one had done VFX on that scale in a purely handheld film at that point. So it was scary, wondering whether or not what we were going to do was going to work. But it was a lot of fun, and the most like making movies when I was a kid, because I shot a lot of it myself holding a Handycam and that's the way I made movies when I was a kid.

liamquane2 karma

what are your greatest on set memories from this film?

MichaelGiacchino3 karma

Mine was when Matt gave me the spear.

Matt_Reeves2 karma

Well, if you want to say that, by far one of the most memorable moments for me was the first time I stood next to Michael as the orchestra played the processional music of the movie, the sort of "Noble Apes" theme. Which I thought was so beautiful that I cried.

blaine_gabbert_mvp2 karma

Hi Michael and Matt,

What would a young aspiring director have to do to impress you? What you need to see in a short film to think that there is potential and skill?

Matt_Reeves2 karma

I think I always look for somebody's point of view, their unique perspective on something. The thing that always impresses me is when I see that somebody shows me a story or a scene or a moment from their point of view, takes something that seems familiar and makes it seem very different while at the same time being very relateable.

libraloco2 karma

Hi, Mr. Reeves and Mr. Giacchino! Thank you so much for doing this!

  1. Mr. Giacchino: Will there be a deluxe edition soundtrack for STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS? If so, when can we expect it? How about JOHN CARTER?

  2. Mr. Giacchino: Will there ever be a soundtrack release for Seasons 3, 4, and 5 of ALIAS? ALCATRAZ? Will there be a compilation of your scores for Pixar shorts?

  3. Mr. Giacchino: Are you attached to score any projects that haven't been announced yet?

  4. Mr. Reeves: What is the status of THE INVISIBLE WOMAN? 8 O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING?

  5. Mr. Giacchino and Mr. Reeves: If asked, would you work on a STAR WARS film?

Matt_Reeves2 karma

4) Those are both passion projects of mine. Invisible Woman is something I hope to make at some point very soon, probably not until after the next Apes movie, but it's something I could make quickly. And 8'Clock is something I've written a draft of that I am very excited about. Both of them are projects I'm very excited about.

5) And my answer is: if Michael will do it, I'll do it.

Matt_Reeves3 karma

And if Michael directs it, I will play flute on his soundtrack.

l3thaln3ss2 karma

Hi Matt! I was really curious how you approached shooting a movie in motion capture. Was it something you had to play around with to get a better understanding or did you have an idea going in?

Matt_Reeves3 karma

I only knew about motion capture from the outside. And so I gave myself a crash-course in motion capture when I first got involved, and I asked to see all of the footage of Andy in his performance-capture equipment from RISE, and then all the footage of Ceasar doing the same scenes. And learned very quickly how the motion-capture worked. And I was very excited to see what an incredible actor Andy was, because my biggest fear was that motion capture would be a technical obstacle for dealing with actors, but in fact it wasn't. And it was the kind of thing that the more you played around with it, the more exciting it became. So the more we shot the movie, I found it more and more exciting.

liamquane2 karma

What was it like working with Gary Oldman? what was he like on set?

Matt_Reeves7 karma

Gary Oldman was fantastic. He was a very warm and passionate person. And very committed to good work. And somebody who I had always admired, and was really excited to get to work with.

WetPopcorn2 karma


Matt_Reeves12 karma

It was actually much less difficult than you would think, because I didn't have apes but I had actors. So that part of it, you know, I had Andy Serkis and Toby Kebbell and all of our ape performers, they were amazing, and you approached it as if they were the characters, you didn't think of them as apes but rather being in character. It was actually harder to edit, to visualize the apes not being there.

StevenPotts71 karma

Hello Michael, I wanted to ask, in the movie Let Me In the song that played in the scene where Owen found the old photo of Abby and Thomas is called Let Me Out- the opposite of the films title. Was that to suggest what the photo implied was the opposite of the truth? Or was it simply called that because Owen was demanding to be let out of the apartment?

MichaelGiacchino3 karma

Here we go! You know what...

Matt_Reeves2 karma

Because Michael doesn't take titles seriously.

MichaelGiacchino2 karma

Because it was Paul Apelgrin's idea (the music editor). And this comes from a long tradition we have on the team, of who can come up with the most interesting puns, and still have the title be relevant to the scene.

Matt_Reeves2 karma

With the pun being more important than the relevance.

Jorion1 karma

Michael! I am literally listening to the Ratatouille soundtrack for the umpteenth time in a row. I LOVE your work.

A question for the both of you: If you could go back in time, where and when would you go, and what kind of sandwich would you bring along as a snack?

I'm super excited for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes!!!

Matt_Reeves2 karma

I would definitely bring a salami sandwich.

MichaelGiacchino2 karma

Ham and cheese for me. And there's something about NYC in the 1940's which is an incredibly exciting thing. i think that would be an incredibly exciting thing to see. But there's something about being around during the American Revolution, that sounds fascinating, although I don't think I would like the bathroom situation.

Matt_Reeves3 karma

I'd just be so happy to have the salami sandwich, I'd be happy to go where Michael goes.

Macrozonaris1 karma

Hi Michael! Do you still use Digital Performer? What are your main sample libraries for creating mockups these days?

Matt_Reeves1 karma

Hi! Yes - still using DP - and mostly using the CineSamples library.

libraloco1 karma

Mr. Giacchino: Is there any chance we could get a sample or suite of your score for JUPITER ASCENDING, since you had already recorded the score before the film was delayed? I'm really looking forward to hearing what you come up with for that one!

Matt_Reeves1 karma

Right now the only place to hear it is on the first trailer. More soon though I hope.

billybob9981 karma

to both you guys - which of the original Apes movies did you see at the cinema when they came out? and which of the sequels (Beneath, Escape, Conquest, Battle) is your personal fave

Matt_Reeves1 karma

I never saw any of them in the theater, because I was too young. I actually saw them all on TV, and my favorite was the first film, but BENEATH was my favorite sequel. And I used to watch the television series, and I also had all of the dolls, the records, and comic books, and coloring books, and actually Michael and I bonded over all of those things when we were doing LET ME IN and I realized he and I had a similar obsession in our childhoods.

MichaelGiacchino1 karma

You could literally write the exact same response to me. I had and still have all my Planet of the Apes toys, my books, my records, my coloring books, I have a mother (fortunately or unfortunately) who doesn't throw anything out, and they are up in my office actually. And one of the things that Matt and I both love is the Planet Treehouse playlet.

Matt_Reeves1 karma

And when I came over to Michael's office, I used to look longingly at his Planet of the Apes Treehouse because my mother did throw mine way, and one day when we were scoring DAWN, i came over and there was a big wrapped present for me, and MIchael had gotten for me the Treehouse off of eBay! So I'm very happy to say that i no longer look longingly at his Treehouse. Because now I have my own.