Michael Giacchino on Crafting the Score for ‘Lightyear’

Michael Giacchino has made himself quite at home at Pixar. Giacchino is in second place for composing the most Pixar films, with Lightyear being his eighth film. He’s right behind Randy Newman’s nine films, but if you count short films and television specials, Giacchino takes the cake at a whopping thirteen productions at the studio. Though his work doesn’t feature lyrics like a lot of Newman’s own iconic tunes, Giacchino has made many of his own instantly recognizable themes, including those from The Incredibles, Ratatouille, and Up.

At the official Lightyear press conference, Giacchino got to talk about the process behind the making of the score for the film. Giacchino started having conversations with director Angus MacLane very early on, which is typical for animated films of this scale, saying, “This one was definitely starting from scratch. It needed to be its own thing. It couldn’t be related to anything that has already been done. Because this was a new world we are opening up, but really it always starts with just the emotions and the character and in a lot of discussions with Angus, from like three or four years ago really.”

Giacchino continued, talking about how Buzz’s journey informed the way he approached the score, saying, “It was a long time ago. But talking about the character and what’s going on with this person and what is happening and we talk about this idea of loss and loneliness and all of these things and these are the conversations that will spark whatever I do first. And it’s important for me to understand what’s at the heart of this story for me to actually write something, it’s not about just sitting down and going, this will be nice space music. It’s really about like, what feels like the emotions that these people are going through.”

He wrapped up his talk about his own process, talking about the emotional core of the film, saying, “That’s what I want to get at, you know, is just the heart of it. And I’m always looking for what’s the saddest moment in the story. And I’ll ask, like, what’s the saddest thing that happens in this movie? And it’s really because I feel like those low points in a person’s life are imprinted on you. You remember those. And if we can tap into that emotion, that’s the truth of what we’re trying to do. The other stuff is so much fun. And all of this splash of it is great, but the truth of it is, what’s happening inside the people. So that’s what I’m always looking for first, you know?”

While reactions to Lightyear have been mixed-to-positive, one of the bright spots of the film is none other than Giacchino himself. The maestro provides a great new theme for the space hero, and another gem in the Pixar canon. Giacchino once again proves just how much of an asset he’s become for the studio

Lightyear is now in theaters

Follow writer Aaron Escobar on Twitter: @aaronfraggle

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