A Skype Conversation with Film Composer Michael Giacchino

Friday / December 9, 2011 / 12:00 p.m.
Berklee Media Lab
150 Massachusetts Avenue
United States


Miachael Giacchino

Michael Giacchino was born October 10, 1967 in Riverside Township, New Jersey. He started venturing into music at the age of 10, where he spent his time between the cinema and his basement. Creating his own stop motion animation films on his brother's pool table, he found the most enjoyable part of the process was putting music to the pictures.

This later led him to join the School of Visual Arts in New York, where he received a major in film production and a minor in history. After graduating, Giacchino began studying music at the Juilliard School at the Lincoln Center. During this time he worked day jobs at the publicity offices for Disney and Universal in New York. Two years later he moved to Disney Studios in Burbank, California where he started working in their feature film publicity department. Shortly after this he moved again to Disney Interactive, becoming an assistant producer on their various video game productions. He continued to study music in the evenings and at weekends.

His first major composition came in 1997 when newly formed DreamWorks Interactive asked him to score its flagship PlayStation game, The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Based on Steven Spielberg's hit movie of the same name, the console game became the first to have a live orchestral score. In 1998, Giacchino was commissioned to write a symphonic piece to celebrate the new millennium. His 25-minute score, "Camden 2000,: was performed by the Hattonfield Symphony on May 13, 2000, and helped raise money for the redevelopment of the city.

Giacchino continued writing for video games including Small Soldiers, Warpath: Jurassic Park, and in 1999, the first in the Medal of Honor franchise, on which he would eventually score four further sequels.

In 2001 rising director J.J. Abrams, a fan of Giacchino's Medal of Honor scores, hired him to write for his new show, Alias, which continued for a five-season run. It also led to Giacchino's largest project, Lost, on which he scored all 120-plus produced hours of the show from 2004-2010, as well as writing a symphonic concert of the music which debuted in Hawaii in 2007. The final recording session for the show took place on May 7, 2010, and a farewell concert was held on May 13, which was attended by many fans, cast and crew.

During the six year period on Lost, Giacchino continued writing for video games including Call of Duty and Secret Weapons Over Normandy, and also launched his career into feature films in 2004 when he was asked to score Pixar's The Incredibles.

In 2006 Giacchino scored J.J. Abrams' first feature film, Mission: Impossible III, and returned to Pixar a year later scoring Ratatouille, which earned him an Oscar nomination. He also scored several Pixar shorts over the years including Lifted, Partly Cloudy, and Day and Night.

The strong relationship with J.J. Abrams continues to this day. Following Mission: Impossible III, Giacchino wrote a 12-minute end credits suite for monster movie Cloverfield, scored the opening episodes of sci-fi show Fringe with Chad Seiter, and also Abrams's reboot of the Star Trek franchise. Giacchino also continued working with Pixar, and alongside Star Trek in 2009 scored Up, for which he won two Grammys, a Golden Globe, a Bafta, and an Oscar. During the same year he also scored two further feature films, three short movies, Disney Christmas special Prep and Landing and the fifth season of Lost.

In 2010 after the completion of Lost and the farewell concert, Giacchino hosted an AMPAS music-and-animation event and also served as honorary president at the International Film Music Conference in Úbeda, Spain in July.

Other projects that year included the pilot episode of J.J. Abrams's UnderCovers, and Matt "Cloverfield" Reeves's horror-romance movie Let Me In. 2011 is another busy year for Giacchino, including Pixar's Cars 2, J.J. Abrams's sci-fi movie Super 8, and Brad Bird's Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol.