In my 20-year career I've composed the music for many video games (Call of Duty, Medal of Honor), films (Star Trek, Super 8, The Incredibles, Up, Ratatouille) and TV series (Alias, Lost, Fringe). Last year, I scored Zootopia, Star Trek Beyond, Dr. Strange and Rogue One -- the first score to be composed for a Star Wars film following John Williams. This year, you heard my music if you saw War for the Planet of the Apes, Spider-Man: Homecoming and, most recently, Pixar's Coco.


If you ever wondered how someone scores a film or video game, now's your chance. Go ahead and ask me anything!

EDIT: Thank you all for your questions and comments! I'm not sure what I was expecting, but you guys exceeded whatever it was. I'm sorry I couldn't get to everyone's questions, but you might find a lot of what you're looking for on my website. You can also keep up with me on Twitter. Thanks again for making this such a fun experience! Now I know why /u/mistersavage likes AMAs so much.

Comments: 3010 • Responses: 92  • Date: 

Octogonologist3993 karma

Hello Mr. Giacchino! I’m a huge fan of your work. Was it intimidating being the only composer other than John Williams to work on a Star Wars film? Did you work closely with him on the score for Rogue One? What was the process like?

Appreciate you taking the time to answer these!

MichaelGiacchino4734 karma

There wasn't much time to be intimidated - I had only 4 1/2 weeks to write the score - but I've loved star wars since I was a kid so ultimately it was just a lot of fun even though the schedule was crazy!

I_Mean_IGuess3172 karma

I am currently scoring a short film (my first film!) and the director told me a specific scene needed music. However, it’s more of a neutral scene and I’m not feeling any sort of emotional response towards it. And I have no idea what to write! Has this ever happened to you and if so, any helpful tips?

MichaelGiacchino5348 karma

Yes! That usually means it either doesn't NEED music or the director is feeling insecure about what he has and is trying to "save" it with your score!

mistersavage3034 karma

Michael, how is it possible to write ALL the movie scores AND still be such the nicest guy possible!?

MichaelGiacchino3074 karma

I wonder the EXACT SAME THING ABOUT YOU in terms of how the heck do you make so many amazing things and STILL be such a nice open person??? You know what - next time we are out together lets start a bar fight and see how the other half lives? Deal?

iwasherenotyou2854 karma

I'm making a low budget erotic sci-fi romance movie that's like 50 Shades of Grey meets Star Wars and Zootopia. Would you be interested in scoring it for me? My budget is $13.

And have you ever cried while scoring anything? Specifically Coco or Up?

MichaelGiacchino3494 karma

I've cried during UP, COCO, INSIDE OUT, APES - you name it. You get very emotionally involved in making the music match the emotions of the characters - so you sometimes have to feel what they are feeling - it's a lot like acting.

Good luck with your film! Sounds genre breaking.

Captainfizzlefits1970 karma

Hello Mr. Giacchino, my introduction to your amazing music was on LOST. I loved how each character had their own theme, Ben’s and Sayid’s were my favourite, and in a sense the music became a character in its own right. My question is; Which character theme did you personally like the most?

MichaelGiacchino1769 karma

I really loved Oceanic Six which was a theme for all the characters.

artycharred1766 karma

oh oh! please answer! ive been a follower of your work since jurassic park the lost world on playstation! when you scored jurassic world did you sneak some of that score into the raptor chase scene? also medal of honor and underground rocked!

MichaelGiacchino2325 karma

You are a true follower! I definitely had a bit of the Raptor scene from the Lost World video game for those who would remember. Like you.

Pragmaticus1136 karma

Hi Michael,

For my money you are as close to an heir to John Williams as any composer today. There is a "brightness" to your scores that I really only ever hear in Williams' work. What is the extent of your relationship with John Williams, and have you had conversations with Disney about further work on the Star Wars series?

MichaelGiacchino1153 karma

Thanks! John and I are friends - he's been an amazing person to get to know over the years. As for the future - nothing planned as of yet. Pretty busy on non-star wars projects!

Mathavian1050 karma

You have scored a couple Disney Parks attractions over the years. If you were given your pick from the higher-ups to re-score anything, what attraction would you like to work on?

Also, thank you for taking the time to talk to my fiancee at D23 while you were signing for her. We're excited to dance to Married Life in April!

MichaelGiacchino1302 karma

I've already worked on my fav - Space Mountain.

Say hi to your fiancee and have a great wedding!!

alex_lacamoire1050 karma

Vanilla or Chocolate? p.s. See you at band practice Alex

MichaelGiacchino1056 karma

Chocolate Chip! Family Band Practice is ONE HOUR!!! BE HERE!!

krystynlo737 karma

Is it true you scored Rogue One in only four weeks? Why so short a time? And how did you DO that?

MichaelGiacchino1097 karma

I came on to the project late after reshoots and Alexandre Desplat had scheduling conflicts, so there was only 4 and half weeks at the point in the production schedule. I just focused on getting it done, and pretty much did nothing else!

frenchhorngod580 karma

I love the (bowed metal?) sound from Rogue One. How was that sound made?

MichaelGiacchino1633 karma


DaftRyosuke712 karma

Hi, Mr. Giacchino!

I have to say that the Incredibles soundtrack is probably my favorite selection from you (though it's hard to really pick a favorite), but as a huge James Bond fan, I can't help but hear the various Bond-esque inspiration within the soundtrack. How did you decide to take that route, and if MGM/EON ever approached you for a Bond soundtrack, would you do it?

MichaelGiacchino1034 karma

Director Brad Bird really wanted an old school Jazz orchestra vibe so it all started with that. I feel like the Incredibles IS my James Bond score so I'm good!

travvo446 karma

Please tell us you are scoring Incredibles 2, that's half the reason I'm eager to see it.

MichaelGiacchino1110 karma

Yup I'm doing it.

FriendGuy255598 karma

Hey Mr. Giacchino!

I love your work, especially on films like the Incredibles, Star Trek, and Planet of the Apes, but the one score I love most from you is one that I don’t think gets nearly enough appreciation – that being your score for Jupiter Ascending.

I’m curious what the process of writing that was like, since from what I understand you wrote a good chunk of it before shooting had even started at the request of the Wachowskis. Was it more challenging? Less? Just different? What were you given to go on when it came to developing a tone and themes? How much of your original score made it into the film, and is there a chance of the unused stuff getting a release?


MichaelGiacchino881 karma

This was a really interesting project for me because the Wachowskis asked me to write the music before they started shooting. They didn't give me a script they gave me place descriptions, character descriptions and I basically wrote six suites based on their notes. It was very freeing because I wasn't locked to picture. Then after they shot the film we had to go back and add things here and there.

dewbacked538 karma

What is the correct pronunciation of your last name?

dgoldwas541 karma

From his website: “Juh-key-no”

MichaelGiacchino967 karma

that is the correct way, JUH-KEY-NO

mhans3478 karma

Hey Michael, Big fan! Thank you for doing this.

What goes into composing your iconic motifs? The Incredibles, Up, Star Trek... I can't even name them all.

MichaelGiacchino697 karma

Well all I can say is I try to find a musical equivalent to the story and characters of the film. Its hard to explain but it's all about what feels right when Im sitting at the piano.

themotherflicker462 karma

Hello Mr. Giacchino, I've been a huge fan since you scored Medal of Honor: Frontline! That score is truly a soothing and mesmerizing theme that elevates the game. "Arhnem" is a masterpiece.

I'd love to know what was your inspiration to Medal of Honor's score?

MichaelGiacchino560 karma

I had a great Uncle, Peter Fortunato, who fought in WWII, and he told us so many stories. I knew that his stories represented that entire generation of people who went and fought that war. He was my inspiration.

DamienNightshade385 karma

Did John Williams ever say anything to you about your Rogue One score?

MichaelGiacchino681 karma

He was very complimentary.

p-wing347 karma

Have you talked to Rian Johnson yet about his trilogy?

I'm assuming that John Williams will retire after Episode IX and you will be the new SW music guy.

MichaelGiacchino401 karma

I haven't spoken to him about it but can't wait to see what he's done!

danjospri336 karma

Love your work! I just found out about this AMA seconds after you tweeted it.

Who is your favorite composer? What is your favorite movie score/soundtrack?

MichaelGiacchino504 karma

That's a question I can never give one name to. I love Max Steiner, Bernard Herrmann, John Williams Alex North, huge fan of Jerry Goldsmith, and then I love all kinds of music, Big Band, classical, marching band, can't name just one. I love the score to King Kong, the original by Max Steiner, it's the grandfather of all film scores.

blueplaidpajamas281 karma

Hi Mr. Giacchino, I'm a huge fan of yours. I remember watching Star Trek for the first time and being completely overwhelmed with emotions when Labor of Love played. Absolutely the most beautiful music I've heard. Was there anything that influenced you while you composed it?

MichaelGiacchino383 karma

Thank you. I was influenced by the story, the fact that this guy was going to die on a mission and at the same time his child was being born who he would never meet. And he was aware of that, it was really sad, so I wrote what I felt.

LemonJellyUK264 karma

Hi Michael,

It blows my mind how you go from a piano composed piece to a fully orchestrated score, what is that process? Do you personally orchestrate the music for each instrument? Collaborate with others etc?

Thanks, Dave

PS 50th Birthday Gala was utterly incredible :)

MichaelGiacchino398 karma

It's all about how I hear it in my head. Think of it as a painting. You start with a pencil sketch outline (the piano sketch) and then you start to fill in the colors (the various instruments). Painting and Orchestrating are very similar in many regards.

unavoidable808236 karma

Michael, I love the piece Married Life from Up so much that I brought myself to learn the piano to play it. Was there a piece of music that gave you the motivation to play music?

MichaelGiacchino217 karma

My dad had a huge record collection and I was listening to it since I can remember, so I loved all kinds of music: jazz, big band, classical. I do remember trying to sound out Jaws at a young age!

SaintNattygrumpo233 karma

Will you write a song about net neutrality? please.

MichaelGiacchino406 karma

Will you write the lyrics?

Crispy_socks241197 karma

have you ever worn womens clothing? me and my buddy have a little bet going on....

MichaelGiacchino487 karma

Once for Halloween, I dressed as Princess Leia.

MrLeHah194 karma

Michael, you won't remember me - we use to email one another way back when you were working with Peter at Dreamworks Interactive, I think I sent you a cassette or a CD once? - but I wanted to say thank you for all the music you've created since then, most especially for your work with the Wachowskis. Speed Racer is one of my very favorite movies ever and a large part of that is because of your music.

I guess I only have one question: Way back when your website first went up, you had sheet music from the first two MOH games on there (the title to the first game and Under The City from MOH:U). Is there any chance you can get them (or other cues!) reposted? I've always wanted to try my hand at transcribing your MOH stuff to solo piano.

Thank you so much again.


MichaelGiacchino214 karma

Peter and I are still best friends - see him regularly. Unfortunately I can't post that music again - perhaps it will be available one day officially - we are working on that. Go Speed Racer Go!

TromboneGuy29191 karma

Mr. Giacchino, First let me say thank you for all the fantastic audial memories and emotional musical journeys you have brought to every ear that your compositions touch. I think you're a fantastic composer and cannot wait to hear your future works.

For just a bit of backstory, since I started playing Trombone (6th grade), I've always thought about what it would be like to play in the recording of a film score. Although this is not the direction I have taken in my career path (just obtained my Bachelor's in Instrumental Music Education), I would still love to accomplish this dream someday. This is where my questions are coming from.

  1. How are members of the ensemble selected? (Is it usually just a prejoined ensemble, such as the New York Philharmonic, or does the Studio usually have a list of musicians on call?)\ If most studios only use preexisting ensembles, which ones get chosen the most, or if they hire individual musicians: (next 2 questions)

  2. How would a single musician get onto the call list\into the business of recording film soundtracks?

  3. Do you conduct the ensembles recording your compositions, or does someone else conduct them? If not you, then do you pick the conductor, or does the Studio?

And this is just because I'm curious: 4. What was it like to play a Stormtrooper in The Force Awakens?

MichaelGiacchino353 karma

It's the old joke, How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice. Kidding aside, the musicians who are studio musicians have been working for years. They have to come to the session not knowing what they are playing and sit down and start recording, they sight read on the spot. So it's all about coming out to LA, starting work where you can, meeting musicians, joining organizations such as ASMAC, SCL (look them up), just start gigging. Some of the musicians that play on my scores have been recording things for forty or more years. There really isn't a direct path that I can tell you. We don't use the "LA PHIL" but musicians in the orchestra play for other composers, etc.

MichaelGiacchino316 karma

It's amazing playing a stormtrooper, but it is very heavy and very hot!

PeeboLeebo166 karma

What type of piano do you have in your home studio?

MichaelGiacchino396 karma

It is Steinway upright built in 1876.

Hawks_Chad165 karma

Huge fan! Always excited to see your name come up in the credits when I'm starting a film or tv show. May be a dumb question, but as someone curious about the politics of entertainment, who reaches out to you and requests your work on their project? Is it one of the creative-types involved or is it an executive-type, or does it always differ? That being asked, who first approached you to work on Lost?

MichaelGiacchino327 karma

Usually its the director and the producers who call me. But I tend to work with the same directors over and over and we are friends so mostly it just comes up in casual conversation "Hey - guess what I'm doing next - won't that be fun???"

DarkKnightOfGotham147 karma

How many messages do you get from couples saying they used the score from the opening scene in UP (The Carl and Ellie montage) as their wedding song?

MichaelGiacchino238 karma

A lot.

ivadham145 karma

• Peanut Butter: Creamy or Crunchy?

MichaelGiacchino343 karma

Creamy, definitely.

joetronolone142 karma

Michael, over the last decade you have quickly become one of my favorite film composers out there! You've crafted so many fantastic scores with so many fun, memorable themes.

Here are 2 questions I have for you:

  1. What can you tease about the score for Incredibles 2? Other than the main theme, what else might carry over and return musically from the first film? What new material might we look forward to? Having thought you would be fired from the first film, I'd like to hear what excites you about the new film.

  2. More importantly, what has been your favorite pun-filled title that you and you music editors have come up with over the years? I absolutely LOVE them, but was wondering if you have a favorite(s).

Thank you for your incredible music (no pun intended), cant wait to hear what the future has in store for you!

MichaelGiacchino311 karma

1) Well the style will be similar but look for new themes and set pieces to expand on the last film.

2) I like a LOT of them - but It Takes One To Rogue One is pretty good I think.

BuzzzzRTK142 karma

Big fan of your work..I honestly believe your Star Trek theme is one the greatest themes ever made. That said. What was your favorite movie to score or tv show to score?

MichaelGiacchino198 karma

Thank you so much! No real favorite - enjoyed them all for different reasons - but I do love LOST!

petercowles132 karma

You’re my favorite composer ever! Would you come to my wedding?

MichaelGiacchino231 karma

Depends when it is - my schedule is pretty tight!

Jacosion125 karma

What movie score do think has has the biggest impact on the industry?

What is your personal favorite?

MichaelGiacchino260 karma

King Kong by Max Steiner is one of my favorites and it was the one that really had the biggest impact on the industry because prior to then it was someone at a piano. It was the first score with a big orchestra and it changed film music forever.

GibbonBlack90 karma

Do you tear up at the first 5 minutes of Up like the rest of us do?

MichaelGiacchino146 karma

When I worked on it I did - haven't seen it recently so I'm not sure!

mickfilms87 karma

Hello Mr. Giacchino,

I have been pondering this question for some time now and I believe you may be able to help. What is the best way to cook eggs for breakfast to start your musical days off the right way? I have tried sunny side up and scrambled by neither quite do the trick for me. Do you have any recommendations?

MichaelGiacchino146 karma

COYBOY STYLE! Just crack the eggs into the skillet and cook em! Butter and Salt - that's it!!

lacourseauxetoiles77 karma

As someone who loves all of Pixar's original songs (especially Le Festin, which is how I chose my username) and can't wait to see Coco, I just want to know, has Pixar considered making more musicals? Thank you so much for doing this AMA and for being one of the best composers working today.

MichaelGiacchino164 karma

Go see Coco, it's the closest thing to a musical that Pixar has ever done. At the moment I have no idea if they have a musical in the pipeline.

GnarlsD77 karma

Loved your Spider-Man homecoming score! Will you back for the sequel and do you ha e anything planned for it yet?

MichaelGiacchino114 karma

That's a ways off but I'm hoping to continue what I started - more news to come.

HouseNinja76 karma

Being a composer, when you watch a film are you more tuned into the score? Does it ever distract you from the big picture so to speak?

MichaelGiacchino142 karma

It is hard not to be thinking "shop" when I am watching a film and I try really hard to just sit back and enjoy, but there are times that I am distracted by the music. Part of the territory I guess.

frenchhorngod72 karma

Your music is so wonderful. It's my dream to play French horn on movie soundtracks. Any advice on how to get started? I can already play anything put in front of me.

MichaelGiacchino103 karma

It depends on where you are. You have to come out to LA and start getting involved in the music scene out here. You will find many musicians in their own groups, small orchestra ensembles, etc who are studio musicians, and they have to be able to play anything in front of them because they don't get music until the day of the gig.

lostfat1369 karma

Hey, Mr. Giacchino, how does it feel to doing score for Darth Vader in action scenes?

MichaelGiacchino123 karma


PeeboLeebo67 karma

Michael, I am such a fan and have been following your career as you soar from amazing project to amazing project. I am a composer myself and am wondering if you’d be willing to share what your writing process is like.

  1. Do you work alone on a piece from start to finish in a DAW at your home studio, or do you have an office/workspace that you go to write?

  2. How much of your writing is “playing around” with melodies and experimentation and how much is a focused approach with a clear direction in your mind?

MichaelGiacchino103 karma

I work alone in my home office. It's just me here writing. My orchestrations are pretty complete before handing them off for final orchestrations.

Once I have a melody in place that I am happy with I go right to writing the scenes. I don't spend a lot of time playing around - I'm pretty focused and usually know where I want to take something.

matr1x16863 karma

Hi mate, love from Northern Ireland.

How many scores on average do you do per year?...and is it tough to start from scratch on a new project?

Cheers, keep up the good work

MichaelGiacchino98 karma

Hello Northern Ireland! It depends on the year - some years it may be 3 some it may be 5. I love the beginning of a new project - it's always fun to get the engine started and see where it will take me.

dkvoras59 karma

Thank you for the AMA! I loved your scoring of Rouge One and thought you did a tremendous job stepping into the huge shoes of John Williams!

What sort of training do you think one needs in order to scoring films? How reliant are you on common practice composition standards in your writing and how important do you think these are in educating contemporary composers? What advice would you give aspiring film composers?

MichaelGiacchino133 karma

You need to know the basics - learning all of the traditional methods so that you can then take them in whatever direction you want. It's like being an animator - learn figure drawing first THEN break the rules. Take film classes as well - not just music classes. Learn editing directing lighting so you can communicate in the language of film with the people you will be working with. Learn Film History too!

_Tropix58 karma

What is your favourite piece you've ever created?

MichaelGiacchino270 karma

Don't really have a favorite but LOST will always have a special spot for me.

ill_infatuation56 karma

What's your favorite instrument? Why?

MichaelGiacchino156 karma

I love to play the ukulele.

kuhpunkt54 karma

Hey Michael!

Big fan here (duh!) and I have a few quick questions that I hope you can help me with for a project I'm working on about the pilot of LOST.

1.) When JJ, Damon, Mary Jo and their crew were working on the pilot to create a version to present it to the network they used temp music from other movies by composers like Morricone, Carpenter or Zimmer. Those songs created such a different feeling for the pilot - it's really fascinating in comparison to your score.

I still got a copy of that version and I could make out that they used the opening theme from Blade Runner, the song "Silence" from The Thin Red Line and "Queen to Bishop" from Aliens. Do you know who chose those songs? Was it maybe you? Or haven't you been involved with that part of the process?

2.) Do you by any chance remember when you began writing the score for the pilot?

3.) Do you still know when you were done working on the pilot? The scoring for part 1 of the pilot was done/started August 24 2004 and part 2 was done/started, as far as I know, September 7 2004. I'm just curious, because this feels pretty late (just 2 weeks before the show went on air) when there were over 3 months in between.

4.) Has there been something/someone special that inspired your music for the pilot?

5.) Would you be willing to share some sheet music from the pilot? That would be very very cool!

That's all!


MichaelGiacchino87 karma

2) I don't even remember the temp - in fact I'm not sure I really ever listened to it. I don't remember the exact date - but it was a few weeks before we scored the pilot which was pretty close to when it aired. 3)It WAS very close to the air date. Again - not sure the exact date. Would have to check my Cal! 4) The story and characters we what inspired the music - I just loved it. 5) Not really allowed to share the sheet music because that's owned by Disney and I unfortunately don't control that - sorry!

Joncort9554 karma

Hello Mr. Giacchino, My name is Jonathan. Sorry for the long story but I wanted to take a moment to tell you thank you! In early 2010 I went to a church camp retreat and one night they played UP(never seen it before) for the movie night. I was not a very popular kid, being the really awkward fat kid I used to be. I sat away from the group and began to watch the film. Well we all known that opening scene of the film by now because I surely do. I remember watching that scene for the first time there and I remember seeing how the music was affecting everyone. I saw the church leaders, all the kids, and all the camp leaders go from expressing happy, to laughter, to sadness, to just in tears. To me it was one of the most beautiful memories I will always remember in my life! I felt it and seeing how the music itself was in a way screwing with the audience emotions, I thought that was the most amazing thing I have ever experience and I knew that is what I want to do. Everything I am was back that boy made that decision that night and I am happy with how far I’ve come. I’m proud of my work even though I am a 22 year old college student still learning and desperate to learn as much as I can. It all happened because I saw the movie and listened to the score. Will I make it? Who knows but all I know that my passion for composing and my love for film scores is because of that one moment, that one scene with your piece “Married Life”, that was one of those life changing moments that I just could not pass the opportunity to share with you how much your work has inspired and meant to me. Of course to also say THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart.

My question: I love the MCU, been a fan since May 2nd 2008 Iron man, like huge nerd! So when I heard you were composing for Doctor Strange I lost my mind! Then when it was announced you were working on Spider-man: Homecoming, I honestly felt like this movie was made for me. Cause you got to see it in my point of view, my childhood superhero in the whole wide world who is the sole reason I love comics and everything related, he is finally in the MCU, and it is going to be composed by my idol. It is without a doubt my favorite film from the writing, costume, sets, cinematography, makeup, and of course the music! So I wanted to ask you, if Doctor Strange and Spider-man were to team up and you again were at helms to write the music. How would you approach that? A mix of both their themes or just start from scratch? Also if you have time, in an interview you said you asked Kevin Feige if you could write for Spider-man, besides him and Doctor Strange, which other marvel character would you like to write for? Just a real nerdy music question!

Thank you and I hope you have a safe day!

MichaelGiacchino81 karma

Thanks for sharing your story about how you were inspired by Up. If I was writing a STRANGE/SPIDEY film, I would incorporate both of their themes and then create something new that would represent the story they were in. I am lucky that I have already written for two of my favorite Marvel characters...we will see what comes next.

Glynrick53 karma

Hey Mr Giacchino, big fan of your work The Incredibles soundtrack is one of my all time favourites.

Just want to ask who's idea was it to do the orchestral tv Spiderman theme for the beginning of Homecoming?

MichaelGiacchino96 karma

Both Kevin Feige at Marvel and I thought it would be a fun thing to do! And it was!

YoungTroubadour42 karma

Hi Mr. Giacchino. I absolutely loved your score for Rogue One. What was it like following up the great John Williams in not just one but two iconic series'? Was it ever a litte more nerve racking than your other works?

MichaelGiacchino55 karma

Thank you so much! There wasn't much time for nerves - as far as Rogue One - I had only 4 1/2 weeks to write the score - but I've loved star wars since I was a kid so ultimately it was just a lot of fun even though the schedule was crazy! As for Jurassic - well again - Dinos are cool and they are always fun to write for.

CoinOperatedSound42 karma

Currently tearing up just thinking about the “Oceanic Six” How did you and JJ Abrams start collaborating ? I’ve been a fan since Alias ( which btw is severely under estimated )

MichaelGiacchino80 karma

I had been writing music for video games when I received an email from J.J. I actually thought that it was a joke that one of my friends was playing on me, I didn't really know who he was and hadn't watched Felicity. But I called the number on the email and it was him and he said "I heard your music from Medal of Honor, I have a new show coming up called Alias and I'd love to talk to you about scoring it. The rest, as they say, is history.

productionears39 karma

Hi Mr. Giacchino! I am the businesswoman that heard you speak last night about the challenges of creating authentic music for the film Coco. :) As a Mexican musician, I'm curious to hear about your experience with specifically using bass elements for this film score. What kinds of special guitarrónes did you use to create such an amazing Coco soundtrack? Thank you for your time and for your talents!

MichaelGiacchino52 karma

We actually had several different guitarrónes on the score - some vintage, and some new - some electric and some acoustic. It was a real mix and it all depended on the specific cue. Thanks for coming last night!

dothestarsgazeback36 karma

How does it feel once you've completed a score and it finally gets recorded? Is there a sense of "Aha, that's it"! Do you ever feel like it was what you expected?

MichaelGiacchino64 karma

It's always a relief when we are finished recording the score. And sometimes I feel that "aha that's it!" moment, but more often than not I am not totally satisfied, which I think is good because that is what keeps you motivated as an artist.

AceDynamicHero35 karma

Hey, Michael.

A few years ago, I saw you at the Houston Symphony when Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek: Into Darkness were played with the symphony playing your music. It was amazing and I hadn't realized how incredible your score was until I heard it live in symphony.

I guess my question is, how on Earth do you have time to do things like you did at the Houston Symphony and write the iconic music that you're known for?

P.S. Do you plan on ever coming back? That was an amazing night for me and my girlfriend.

MichaelGiacchino54 karma

I love doing concerts but as you can see from our concert schedule, it isn't that often! It's hard to fit things in like that sometimes. At the moment we aren't scheduled to go back to Houston, but tell the symphony that you want them to bring Star Trek Beyond there. Glad you came!

Noxate33 karma

Where do you look for inspiration when you score for animated movies? Has Joe Hisaishi been an influence on your work? Really proud that someone from South Jersey is doing great things - all the best!

MichaelGiacchino55 karma

The inspiration almost always comes fro the story itself and the characters. Putting myself in their shoes. Sometimes however it hits closer to home - like on Inside Out - that was all about my daughter. Go New Jersey!

DexterHouse2432 karma

Hello Mr. Giacchino, big fan also here. Do you prefer, if you have a preference of course, working on a movie or a tv show?

MichaelGiacchino54 karma

I love both but with the amount of movies I've been doing its hard to commit to a TV show.

TurqoiseBlue24 karma

I just saw Coco and noticed your little cameo. Was it a surprise to you, or did you know about it beforehand?

MichaelGiacchino74 karma

Well I see the film when I am scoring it. So when I got to that scene to write it, I thought that he looked like me, but didn't want to assume. When Lee Unkrich came by to go over the music we watched the scene together and afterwards he said, " Didn't you noticed something?" So it was a surprise, they were so excited about it. And I am really happy that they did it.

MarvelVsDC201623 karma

/u/MichaelGiacchino, two questions:

1) In your score for Star Wars: Rogue One, did I hear a hint of "Making Christmas" from Nightmare Before Christmas when we saw a pan up shot of Krennic and now his Death Troopers walking toward Jyn and Cassian?

2) What are the next movies you will be doing scores for after Incredibles 2? Captain Marvel for Marvel Studios?

MichaelGiacchino52 karma

1) Ummm nope. Don't think so. That was the Dies Ire. Look it up!

2) Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom.

KingRuzude23 karma

Absolutely love the score for UP, anytime I see the movie I'm just listening for all the character themes. My question is, will we ever hear an UP 2 score, and if not, have you ever considered how the scores would change with the characters presumably aging in the story?

MichaelGiacchino54 karma

Up is a one movie story, and I think that's fine, so I haven't thought about creating anything new for the UP universe.

jhndp22 karma

Hello Mr. Giacchino, is there any piece that you wrote for any medal of honor that didn't make it to the game?, and what did inspire you when writing "North Africa" for MOH: Allied Assault? cheers from Chile!

MichaelGiacchino26 karma

I think it all ended up in the game! As for North Africa I was really going for a vibe that placed you in that geography of the world. Haven't listened to that in a LONG time - I'll have to go back and revisit it!


How do you recommend talking to composers? I'm a commercial director and I try not to do the thing where I point to temp music and say "do that".

Also - what is the musical term for the slow chords thing that's in a lot of your tracks (Joy Turns to Sadness -- Life and Death from Lost, edit, reference here:

Alsoooo i love your work thanks for doing what you do

MichaelGiacchino38 karma

I think you should talk to composers through story and emotion, what do you want to be feeling, what is happening in the story. That's the best way because composers write what they are feeling and you should be working hand in hand with them to get across the story you are telling.

Art1411 karma

Did you have any chance to work with or observe John Williams, when he was scoring The Last Jedi?

MichaelGiacchino21 karma

I didn't - I was busy on my own films but can't wait to hear what he did!

NickNightrader10 karma

I absolutely loved the one you did for Star Trek Beyond. Well done. I noticed you do many variations of the main theme -- how you do go about doing it without deviating too much while still making it iconic? Is there a special process to 'remixing' it or do you re-compose?

MichaelGiacchino22 karma

Once the melody is stated and known - it's very easy to vary it for different emotional effects using orchestration and or chord substitutions etc.

bawpcwpn8 karma

Hey Michael!

What music (other than you’re own) have you been listening to recently?

(Thanks for doing an AMA! Can’t wait to see Coco in Feb and hearing your score after! (Late release here in Sweden))

MichaelGiacchino11 karma

Lots of new pop music - Sigrid is a recent favorite. Also the Mexican Institute of Sound.

ill_infatuation7 karma

What's the thing that helps you sleep a night?

MichaelGiacchino11 karma

A hard days work.

scythentic7 karma

During the production of The Incredibles, I'm sure you have interacted with Samuel L Jackson at least a few times. How is he like as a person overall?

MichaelGiacchino13 karma

Just met him at the premiere and things like that - he was super awesome. Great guy.

vesomortex7 karma

What's your favorite film score?

MichaelGiacchino7 karma

King Kong by Max Steiner is one of my favs.

thestudcomic7 karma

How challenging is to do remakes of films with great scores like the greatest composer of all time Jerry Goldsmith and really good John Williams?

MichaelGiacchino7 karma

It's challenging but luckily the directors of these films want to take them somewhere new as weak so it gives me the opportunity to try new things and develop original themes for the new stories. So I'm not really tied to what came before.

doogie926 karma

Of your compositions, what score or part of a score are you most surprised to have seen resonate in pop culture?

MichaelGiacchino11 karma

I'm always touched to see how LOST has affected people all over the world. That's pretty special.

consreddit5 karma

I am a composer beginning my career in a small city in Canada. Do you have any tips for improvement, and getting your name out there? Love your work, thanks for the ama!

MichaelGiacchino5 karma

Work on things you love with people who you can collaborate with and be inspired by. Start there. Get in the door anyway possible. Study film history!

Glowolf65 karma

Hi Michael! I can not even begin to explain to you how much I love your music. You are such an artist and I love you so much. My question is I absolutely loved the We Have To Go Back Lost concert in LA. Will you be doing any more live concerts? Will you come to DC or Virginia ?

MichaelGiacchino17 karma

I am coming to DC in June...for a special concert that I will have a small part in, details to come. Glad you came to LOST. We are hoping to do another.

check-meow-t5 karma

Hey Michael,

Can you explain to me why 'bundle of Joy' always makes me feel so nostalgic? It even did when I heard it for the first time at the start of Inside Out.

MichaelGiacchino6 karma

Probably because that's how I felt when I first watched the movie. It made me feel really nostalgic about my relationship with my own daughter.

Mstiecrow4 karma

Huge fan of your ending track "ROAR!" for Cloverfield. I was reminded of Akira Ikufube's Godzilla theme. It was very rooted in 1950's sci-fi. Do you have any influences from that era of film music? I feel I hear a lot of similarities in some of your tracks and that particular decade of soundtracks.

MichaelGiacchino6 karma

Thank you so much. I loved all the Japanese monster movies growing up. Ultra Man was one of my favorites.

Justokayscott3 karma

Did I see a land of the dead version of you as the conductor for De La Cruz’s orchestra?

Also, Major I to the minor iii, am I right?

MichaelGiacchino5 karma

Yes you did! That was the Pixar version of me!

I guess you're right - not sure what you're referencing!

BetYouCantPMNudes3 karma

Hello Mr Giacchino! I love your work, especially for the Incredibles and Rogue One.

How long does the orchestra have to practice a score before it gets recorded?

Also, do you do all the composition yourself? Also, what composition software, if any, do you use?

MichaelGiacchino4 karma

Thank you. I use Digital Performer and Sibelius. The orchestra doesn't have any time to practice. They don't even know what film they are playing for when they walk in the studio. So they have to play it right on the first take! They are amazing.

shrynshk3 karma

Huge fan of your work on Inside out, especially "chasing sadness". Is it easier or tougher to score music on an animated film? if so. why?

MichaelGiacchino6 karma

Scoring for an animated film is the exact same as scoring for a live action. You are writing for emotions, the story, the characters. In my experience it is no different.

dewbacked3 karma

I loved your take on the Rogue One score! How did you balance making the jump Star Trek to Star Wars? As well as blend your style with the classic scores from John Williams?

MichaelGiacchino8 karma

Star Wars and Star Trek are very different beasts, so it wasn't hard to maintain a creative wall between the two. Star Wars has a style established by John years ago - Star Trek I was more free to do what I wanted.

MartinGreene3 karma

Only discovered you around a year ago but quickly became a fa. One of my favorite scores is Doctor Strange, with my favorite tracks being Ancient Sorcerer's Secret and A Long Strange Trip. My questions are:

  • When writing The Master of the Mystic, was there a minor influence of Doctor Who?
  • I have been wanting to get into scoring myself, as a hobby. How did you first start out and what is the process now?
  • What book would you like to score an adaption for?
  • Do you snack while working? What do you eat?

MichaelGiacchino3 karma

1) No Dr Who ref. 2) This is a long answer - there are interviews on my website that details that answer better. 3) I snack on almonds coffee. Of course my Italian heritage forces me to love pasta.

kowboykenny1 karma

Big fan of your work. What is the best compliment that you heard from a fan or another composer?

MichaelGiacchino3 karma

Thank you. I have been really moved by the positive response we have been getting from people of Mexican heritage about Coco. It was so important to the filmmakers that it felt authentic and that is was of that culture.