What is it like working with Christopher Nolan?appeared as a question on Quora. Below we are republishing an answer from Hans Zimmer, who composed the soundtrack for Christopher Nolan’s movie Interstellar.
I think one of the things that is really great about working with Chris is that he doesn’t, in any way, get in the way of my imagination. In fact, he works very hard at not having me confined by the mechanics of filmmaking.
So, our process is usually starting long conversations just riffing on ideas. Then slowly I start writing and experimenting, coming up with sounds, etc., all the while keeping in constant conversation with Chris.
In Interstellar, for instance, there’re so many themes, so many pieces, which always got to a certain point during the writing process but never had an ending, because Chris and I would get to a certain point with an idea and then abandon it because we got excited about the next idea. You have to think of how Chris and I work as a sort of breathless, constant sprint because we are just trying to keep up with our own ideas.
The ideas are so plentiful when Chris and I get together, but the execution always takes more time and it can be so frustrating. It’s sometimes very frustrating for him as well because he’s trying to make a movie and he’s waiting on the music.
When it comes to the music for Interstellar, I can honestly say that in one way or another, the music is our music, not just my music. It’s entirely our music, and that’s a testament to how much I let Chris into my world.
The great thing is that as a composer, you can only write from the heart and from your innermost place. So, you have to trust your director.
And that’s the thing - there’s a great sense of trust and a great sense of balance that Chris brings to the composing process.
Because Chris cuts his movies in his garage, (giving his films a sort of a homemade quality), he never makes me feel that I have the enormous weight of the canvas on my shoulders.
His editing process is really helpful for my composing process. The work and the story is always brought back to the personal and the intimate, and that’s perfect for how I work.