Hans Zimmer is the king of film scoring.
In the current industry climate he has made his way up to the top with his amazing electronic music skills and savvy business sense.
He owns and operates Remote Control Productions, where, in my adventures as a Berklee LA Intern, I recently had the privilege of visiting.
Remote Control, I learned in detail, has several ‘rooms’ (studios) which up and coming, and established composers are invited to rent from Hans. They essentially are free to work on their own projects, but often collaborate and write additional music on Hans’ scores. Mr. Zimmer has jump started the career of many a successful film composer this way. Hans no longer scores to picture. He writes the themes and lets his team do the rest.
This brings me to the point that most people criticize him for, ghost writing.
As our gracious host, and tour guide for the evening, Geoff Zanelli, said, It’s not ghost writing if you get credit and a generous portion of royalties. Ghost writing is anonymous (hence the implication of the word ghost).
Geoff, a Berklee grad, worked his way up at Remote Control and now employs an assistant himself, and boasts a respectable list of film credits for a man his age.
I was surprised by his enthusiasm for Hans’ business model. His description of his experience differed from what I heard around the business.
Not everybody appreciates Mr. Zimmer and his status as one of Hollywood’s elite:
- A former colleague at Berklee, who’s father is a film composer mentioned in passing how low people view Hans’ business practices.
- I ran into a film composer at a party out here in LA who mentioned his experience with a similar model, and his distaste for it.
- In general, my sense of industry opinion (even out in LA) has been that Hans is more of a business man than a composer.
A friend asked me recently if given the opportunity, would I work at Remote Control? I answered yes, but in light of recent events, I would now answer, unequivocally, yes.
I learned through more detail and nuanced description how the royalty of film scoring is not perfect. Even Geoff mentioned how Hans does not read music, and cannot play some of the instruments he keeps in his own studio.
It still is the place that major $300 million budget films go for music.
The business model is brilliant.
People all have different opinions about Hans and Remote Control, but now I will base mine on having seen it up close.
As I look back, it will be one of the highlights of my summer.
Will I ever be involved in projects of such magnitude and prestige?
For now, I leave you to feast your eyes on these… Hans’ own personal studio.