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Giacchino: Oscar winner revisits Pixar, reunites with Abrams

Eye on the Oscars: The Music - Michael Giacchino

For composer Michael Giacchino, scoring “Super 8” wasn’t just another collaboration with director J.J. Abrams. It was like scoring his own childhood.

“I kept calling J.J. and saying, ‘I did that!’,” Giacchino says with a laugh, referring to incidents in the script that paralleled his experiences as a young filmmaker in Edgewater Park, N.J. “I wish an alien had come down (as happens in the film). Outside of that, the rest of the film was true in spirit to what it was for me growing up.”

Giacchino, who won the original score Oscar for “Up,” has scored all of Abrams’ projects since 2001, including TV’s “Alias” and “Lost” (an Emmy winner for the composer) and the films “Mission: Impossible 3” and “Star Trek.”

They’ve become so close that Abrams brings him in at the script stage.

“We talk about structure and characters and story,” says the director. “And then I show him an early cut and get his comments. Giacchino’s brilliance is that he is able to identify the heart of a moment in a scene. Sometimes he will open my eyes to something I hadn’t seen.”

Although “Super 8” is a big, action-packed story involving an alien who crash-lands in a Midwestern town, to Giacchino the focus was “this poor kid who loses his mother and whose father is not really connected to him, who is very busy and has other things to take care of.”

The result was emotion-filled cues that had executive producer Steven Spielberg — who was present at the recording sessions — declaring it was Giacchino’s best work since “Ratatouille.”

Giacchino and Abrams prefer the old-fashioned orchestral approach to movie scoring, and Giacchino also prefers the classic style of recording: the entire orchestra in the same room at once, not recording brass or strings or woodwinds separately.

He scored four other films this year, two of which may have potential at awards time: “50/50” sported an unusual score for rock combo including guitars and piano, while for “Cars 2,” his fourth Pixar film, he created a new genre: British surf rock featuring the Fender Telecaster guitar.

For the lighthearted “Monte Carlo,” he managed a ’60s-ish jazzy Mancini vibe, while for “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol” (for his “Up” director Brad Bird), “we were able to have a lot more fun with the music, be a lot bigger and bolder” than on “M:I 3,” with extensive use of the original Lalo Schifrin TV themes.

Lyrics bring pix to life | Stars tune up plots | John goes Gaga over inanimate romance
From rising stars to Oscar winners, seven composers talk about the method to their musicality:
Henry Jackman | Alberto Iglesias | Dario Marianelli | Michael Giacchino | Abel Korzeniowski | Conrad Pope | Thomas Newman

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