by Michael Giacchino night werewolf is Marvel Studios’ first television special, and the playful and gruesome story is the perfect way to ring in the Halloween season on October 7th.
Werewolf pick up where Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness left out in terms of the horror genre, as Disney+’s special presentation pays homage to the genre’s cinematic style of the 1930s and 40s. The nearly 53-minute black-and-white feature film follows Jack Russell (Gael Garcia Bernal), who, along with other monster hunters, arrives at Bloodstone Temple in order to compete for the domain’s most sought-after relic. The ensuing hunt leads to perhaps Marvel’s scariest and bloodiest story to date, and much to the surprise of Werewolffrom director-songwriter Giacchino, the film still landed a TV-14 rating.
“We always assumed it would be TV-MA, but I wasn’t always involved in what was happening on that side in terms of ratings and all that,” Giacchnio said. The Hollywood Reporter. “But I’m sure you’re absolutely right that black and white helped us stay within a certain range.”
From Marvel and DC to Star Wars and Pixar, Giacchino has composed music for just about every major franchise out there, but his first love has always been film. After directing a few short films in 2018 and 2019, his directorial debut was only a matter of time. (The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences defines a feature film as a minimum of 40 minutes.)
“In this town, whatever you do first is what you do forever. Even on Twitter, people were like, ‘Wait, I thought you were a songwriter. I don’t understand that,” says Giacchino. “And it’s like, ‘Well, nobody’s one-dimensional.’ So I will be eternally grateful to Kevin Feige for giving me this opportunity to show that I do other things and that I love other things.
In a recent interview with THRGiacchino (pronounced Juh-key-no) also talks about how he heard the voices of his longtime collaborators in his head during the making, including JJ Abrams, Matt Reeves, and Brad Bird.
Michel Giacchino, night werewolf is a fucking good time.
(Laughs.) We need this quote.
I submitted it to Disney! Anyway, watching, I assumed this was Marvel Studios’ first R-rated or TV-MA project, but according to the internet, it’s TV-14. Did the black and white help counter the blood and maintain the rating at TV-14?
You know what? Maybe. You could be right. I am not sure. We always assumed it would be TV-MA, but I wasn’t always involved in what was happening on that side in terms of ratings and all that. And so I’m not sure, but I’m sure you’re absolutely right that black and white helped us stay within a certain range.
Some people might be surprised to see a composer conduct, but composers are also storytellers. Has directing always been a logical progression for you?
Yes it is. When I was nine, my dad gave me his 8mm camera, so I’ve been making movies since I was nine. Literally all I did growing up was make movies. And then I went to film school and also studied music, which I loved. And you’re right. Music is a story. It’s all about storytelling. When I compose music for a movie, I help tell that story, and the music I write is there to help you understand how those characters are feeling at any given moment. Basically, how would I feel if I [the composer] were Jack Russell [Gael Garcia Bernal] at the moment? So that’s the music I write, and it’s all narrative.
In this town, whatever you do first is what you will do forever. If people try to shift gears, along the way, it’s always “Whoa, what’s going on here?” Even on Twitter, people were like, “Wait, I thought you were a songwriter. I do not understand this. And it’s like, “Well, nobody’s one-dimensional.” I’m sure you do other things you love, don’t you? We all have these things. So I will be eternally grateful to Kevin Feige for giving me this opportunity to show that I do other things and that I love other things. I’m not going to stop making music, but I love doing that too.
Did director Michael Giacchino have a lot of notes for composer Michael Giacchino? Did it take you a minute to get used to this new dynamic of responding only to yourself?
Yeah, that way it was kinda like moon knight because I constantly argued with myself. (Laughs.) “Are you sure you want to do this? Come on, you’ve been doing this for years. Try this instead. So there was this feeling of, ‘Oh, I don’t have anyone to brainstorm and collaborate with. that way.” But I found that person in my editor, Jeff Ford, who is one of the biggest editors on the planet. He and I have worked on five movies together over the years, so that was great to have him in the role that I would normally have when I work with a director. He’s someone I could get honest feedback from, and I’m grateful that he filled that role.
It made the editorial process much more interesting. While he was cutting a scene, I would say “Wait, I have an idea” and run to the other room to write a piece of music. And then I would bring it back and we would place it against the picture. And then he was like, “Oh, that gives me an idea for a haircut.” Or I was like, “Let me change the music.” So it was a fun experience, and it really took me back to when I was making movies with my friends as a kid. We really had a lot of freedom to do what we wanted to do.
Some of my favorite scores in recent memory were initiated before production started, like your The Batman score. Is it quite rare to be able to write before production? Is this impossible on most projects?
He is. It’s very rare. This is inconvenient because I like to wait to see the movie before marking it. Sometimes if I write a piece of music based on reading a script and watch the final film, I’m like, “Oh, that’s not what I thought. Tonally, emotionally, it’s very different. So I try to wait to see something to be on board. But with The BatmanMast [Reeves] and I know myself so well. After reading the script, he and I were talking about the story so much, and it was a much easier process to go through, “I know how that feels to me.” So I wrote this theme very early in the process.
With Werewolf, I actually wrote the theme before filming and was able to play with it while we were filming. It became part of the process of making the film, especially in the writing, where we had everything up front, which was really nice. And being able to simultaneously write while editing, instead of waiting for a cut and then grading it, was really helpful. So it doesn’t always happen, but it’s good when it does. On Jupiter Ascending, I wrote almost all of this score before filming, and the Wachowskis were playing it on set for the actors. So it’s really great when that can happen, because it helps to know how you think about something and how it comes to life as you create it.
Whether it’s Brad Bird, JJ Abrams or Matt Reeves, did the voices of your past directors come to mind while you were directing Werewolf? Could you feel their influence?
Permanently! But it was more like, “Why are you doing this? Do not do that. It was like someone behind me was saying, “No, no, no. Face it this way, or do this. Or add a shake to it. The years I spent with JJ, Brad, Matt or Pete Docter, I absorbed a wealth of information because I love cinema. Like I said, I’ve been doing it since I was nine. I like. So I was going to their sets and I was just there to have fun. I loved watching them work, but in doing so I learned a lot over the years. It was like having a master class with some really amazing directors. I’m sure if you asked them, they would say, “We don’t know what we’re doing. We just do everything we can. In the end, that’s what it feels like. No one ever really knows. It’s kind of a best-case scenario riddle, but that said, I’ve learned a tremendous amount from each of them over the years. I will therefore be eternally grateful for the years I spent writing the music for their films.
Well, to wrap it up, I hope you achieve more because you’ve earned it with Werewolf by Night. And by the way, thank you for your Lost score. It’s been a big help over the years.
Honestly, this show is one of the favorite things I’ve ever worked on, so thank you.
night werewolf raw October 7 on Disney+. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.