Collider Connected: Michael Giacchino on ‘Monster Challenge’, ‘The Batman’, and Much More

     March 23, 2020

In these uncertain times, it’s more important than ever to stay safely connected—with friends, with family, and with those we admire. Enter: Collider Connected. This new live interview series on Collider broadcasts in-depth discussions with filmmakers, writers, actors, and many more live on our YouTube channel, and our first guest was none other than Michael Giacchino.

Giacchino is, of course, the Oscar-winning composer behind more brilliant scores than you can count: Up, The Incredibles, War for the Planet of the Apes, John Carter, Jojo Rabbit, Star Trek, Rogue One, Doctor Strange, Bad Times at the El Royale and so many more. But Giacchino is also a filmmaker himself.

patton-oswalt-monster-challengeAs he recounts in our 40-minute interview conducted on Friday, Giacchino grew up making movies with his friends, obsessed with the same films and filmmakers a lot of us were: Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, etc. So a couple of years ago, after making a wildly successful career out of film composing, Giacchino decided to hop back in the saddle and try his hand at filmmaking again—this time with plenty more resources at his disposal than a single Super 8 camera.

The result is the short film Monster Challenge, and it is absolutely delightful. In the wake of “shelter at home” orders and social distancing measures, not to mention a cloud of uncertainty over everything, Giacchino decided to put his short film online for free to help bring some joy into the world. And boy does it succeed.

The film stars Patton Oswalt who plays a version of himself as he gets roped into appearing on a Japanese gameshow as a Godzilla-like kaiju. The challenge? Survive as long as possible as contestants throw darts and try to bring you down. The twist? Ben Schwartz being his usual hilarious self.


Image via Warner Bros.

The short film is incredibly funny, but also vibrant, joyful, and genuinely thrilling. Giacchino—who wrote, directed, produced, and composed the music for the film—shows he’s no amateur here. He’s a genuine filmmaker. So it should come as no surprise that Giacchino expressed during our interview his desire to direct something bigger, possibly a feature, sometime in the not too distant future.

But having the opportunity to speak to someone as talented as Giacchino, I also had to ask about some of his past film scores and what’s coming up. He talked about how Pixar has changed over the last decade since he first began working at the studio, how he tackles scores for films with existing themes like Star Trek or Jurassic World, his experience working on two Mission: Impossible films, his enthusiasm to finally score a Marvel movie with Doctor Strange after having previously turned Marvel Studios down, making the Jurassic World franchise something new and fresh, and his brilliant collaborations with director Matt Reeves on the Planet of the Apes movies.

Giacchino also offered a brief update on the musical he’s working on with Brad Bird, what we can expect from Jurassic World: Dominion, and he talked about his and Reeves’ approach to The Batman and how the music in the teaser trailer was written immediately after he read Reeves’ script.

It’s a long, wide-ranging chat that I think illuminates just how passionate Giacchino is not just about the music he creates, but the stories he’s helping to tell. Which comes across very clearly in Monster Challenge (which you can watch online right here), and which bodes well for his future career as a director.

Check out the first episode of Collider Connected in the video below.

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