According to Star Trek XI composer Michael Giacchino, composing the music for a movie is more than just writing music.
Giacchino, who won an Oscar for his work on Up, knows that telling a story is part of the process of composing for movies such as Star Trek XI and television shows such as Lost. “As a film composer, your job is not to write music,” he said. “Your job is to tell a story.”
“I went to film school,” explained Giacchino, “and I have a fascination with the process, so it’s very important to me that everything works together. It’s not about what I’m doing; it’s about what this piece of art needs to help propel it to the next level.”
“He understands character and structure,” said J.J. Abrams. Impressed with his work on video games, Abrams gave Giacchino his first television series to score back in 2001 (ABC’s spy series Alias.) “So while it’s wonderful to work with him as a composer, I give him the scripts in advance and get his comments and notes and show him cuts and scenes and rough cuts of the whole piece, just to get his reaction.”
Giacchino prefers projects that interest him and get the creative juices flowing. “I gravitate towards things that get me excited,” he said. “Something I can feel creative about. That could either be the story or the person that’s making it. It’s very hard for me to write something when I don’t feel anything. J.J. could call me up and say, ‘I’m directing a paper towel commercial’ and I would say yes, because it’s going to be an awesome paper towel commercial.”
Next up for Giacchino is the comedy Monte Carlo, and I’m With Cancer, a drama, followed by Abrams’ Super 8. Then he will work on Mission: Impossible IV and John Carter of Mars.