Director by Night
An intimate look at the childhood of award winning movie composer, Michael Giacchino, and his first foray into directing for the MCU.
Spoiler Level: None
Director by Night follows Michael Giacchino’s move from composing for the Marvel Cinematic Universe to directing for it. In 2016, Giacchino became part of the MCU family composing the score for Doctor Strange, all three movies in the Spider-Man Trilogy and Thor: Love and Thunder. He is also responsible for the Marvel Fanfare music which first appeared at the beginning of Dr. Strange. When asked by Kevin Feige if he could direct anything in the MCU, what would it be, and because of his love for the fringe characters, horror films and comic books he collected as a child, his answer was Werewolf by Night. A book he collected as a child. Werewolf by Night was a television special which premiered on Disney+ in October of 2022. The documentary Director by Night is written and directed by Anthony Giacchino, Michael’s brother and is less about the television movie and more about Michael and his background, giving the audience a peak into the childhood of a very accomplished composer and up and coming director.
Michael and Anthony were born and raised in New Jersey. Michael began making stop motion animation movies when he was 10 years old, composing his own soundtrack for them. He attended Holy Cross High School where he participated in the school’s drama department. He and his friends would make movies on super eight film using whatever they could find as props and weapons. Special effects for laser beams, for instance, were done by scratching the film creating a laser beam effect. Luckily, we get to see clips from these movies throughout the documentary. An art teacher recommended that Michael attend the School of Visual Arts in New York City, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. He then went on to study music at Julliard and UCLA. During college he was given an internship at Universal Studios, which landed him a job there after graduation. He eventually made it to Disney Interactive, where he began composing music for video games. His video game work got him noticed by J.J. Abrams, which opened all sorts of opportunities for him. He is now an Oscar, Emmy and Golden Globe winner, and holds several Grammy awards along with numerous other accolades. Although not mentioned, Anthony Giacchino is also an Academy award winner for his 2020 documentary Colette.
The most interesting part of the documentary isn’t about Michael’s success or about Werewolf by Night, but about his childhood and lifelong friendships he forged. His love for making movies and the pure joy he had as a child honing his art. The connection between the super 8 films he shot as a teenager and the work he was doing in Werewolf by Night gave context to where his love for the genre stems. The costumes and makeup he used in his youth, and how far he has come with creature creations. The scenes with his parents are comical, showing the human side of life and how much alike we all are. I am the same age as Michael, and I felt the connection to the era that forged him. Anthony points out a few times that the things they did as children, the parents of today would never allow, but it was a different time.
It is interesting to see the humble but wonderful beginnings of a great movie composer and up and coming director.
Director by Night: The Imaginative Childhood of Michael Giacchino
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 9/109/10
- Acting - 9/109/10
- Music - 10/1010/10
- Production - 10/1010/10