Michael explains how his childhood experiences influence his work today 1:28
Michael Giacchino (pronounced "juh-key-no") is a Golden Globe, Grammy, Emmy and Academy Award-winning composer for film, television and video games.
Born 10th October 1967 in Riverside, New Jersey, Michael grew up in nearby Edgewater Park. He started venturing into films at the age of ten, creating stop motion animations on his brother's pool table. He found the most enjoyable part of the process was putting music to the pictures.
When he wasn't making his own movies, Michael spent time at the movie theater, sneaking in a tape recorder so he could listen to the soundtracks later.
"When I wasn't able to get myself to a theater to re-watch E.T. for the hundredth time, or Raiders of the Lost Ark, or Star Wars, the only way to relive those movies was to listen to the soundtrack."
On recommendation of one of his high school teachers, Michael enrolled at the School of Visual Arts in New York where he received a major in film production and a minor in history.
During his final year, Michael took an unpaid internship at Universal Pictures as well as working at a department store to pay the rent. He graduated in 1990 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and began studying music at the Lincoln Center's Juilliard School.
Moving on to... video games
Michael worked day jobs at the publicity offices for Universal and Disney, and when Disney relocated to Los Angeles, Michael moved with them. He continued to study instrumentation and orchestration, attending night classes at UCLA.
His role at Disney involved working with various people in the film and video game industry. Realizing that producers hired composers, he figured out that if he became a producer he could effectively hire himself, and he eventually started producing - and composing - for Disney's video game division, later moving to DreamWorks Interactive, a spin-off of Steven Spielberg's production company.
While working at DreamWorks, who were making a video game of The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Michael was asked to compose a piece of music to accompany a demo reel. After writing the music that night and handing it in the following morning, Michael had a phone call from the game's producer.
"He said, 'Could you come downstairs? Steven would like to talk to you.' My head was elsewhere, and I remember saying, "Steven who?" And he said, 'Steven Spielberg. Remember, our boss?'"
Spielberg asked when the music would be recorded with an orchestra, and although never originally planned, it became one of the first video games to feature a live orchestral score. Michael continued writing for video games and became known for his work on the Medal Of Honor series.
In 2001, while struggling to start working in television, Michael received an e-mail:
"I will never forget that email. It said 'My name is J.J. Abrams, I wrote Armageddon and I’m starting a new series with ABC. Would you be interested in meeting with me? Love your music.' I thought one of my friends was messing with me."
It wasn't a joke, and after meeting Abrams, Michael was hired to write the music for shows including Alias and Lost.
Michael on regularly working with J.J. Abrams 1:45
Michael's major film scoring career took off in 2004 when a friend working at Pixar suggested he approach The Incredibles director, Brad Bird. After discussions with Bird, Michael wrote music for some scenes and recorded it on a weekend with musicians from his Alias orchestra.
"Finally Brad (Bird) called me up and said, 'Do you want to do (The Incredibles)? I want to hire you for this, but I have to warn you; it's going to be the hardest job you've ever had.' And that was it. We went to work on it and had the best time."
Michael continues to regularly work with J.J Abrams (Mission: Impossible III, Star Trek, Super 8, Star Trek Into Darkness), Brad Bird (Ratatouille, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Tomorrowland, The Incredibles 2), Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, War For The Planet Of The Apes), Peter Docter (Up, Inside Out), Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World, The Book Of Henry), Marvel Studios (Doctor Strange, Spider-Man: Homecoming) and Disney (Zootopia, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story).