Lately it seems like if you don’t have a viral YouTube video, you won’t make it in the entertainment industry. But how often do you actually know someone who meets their idol thanks to the Internet?
UM alumus Chris Ryan got a chance to record with Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino in 2012.
Giacchino, who composed Pixar’s “Up” and the score for the TV show “Lost,” flew Ryan out to Hollywood, Calif., at the end of January last year to record an arrangement of the composer’s “Lost” themes that Ryan put together himself.
Ryan posted videos of himself playing the music the day of the “Lost” finale in 2007. The video immediately took off and gained thousands of views virtually overnight.
Ryan, who attributes his passion for scoring to Giacchino, recorded the songs with the composer in mind.
“I always knew there was a chance that Michael could see it,” Ryan said.
Thanks to Twitter, the video made its way to Carlton Cuse, one of the show’s producers, who emailed it to Giacchino directly. However, it wasn’t until later that year when Ryan sent a fan letter to Giacchino mentioning the video that anything happened. Giacchino called Ryan to tell him that he had read his letter and seen the videos. He then invited him to the studio to record them professionally.
Ryan was floored.
“Just to think that Michael could have very easily seen my YouTube video and decided on his own to arrange something on piano and record it, but he brought me in,” he said.
Giacchino flew Ryan out to Los Angeles to record on Jan. 21.
“To think that the person I admire most in the world flew me out, it’s mind boggling,” Ryan said.
In the days leading up to his departure, Ryan said he practiced piano 12 hours a day to prepare.
In the meantime, Giacchino called him to give him a pep talk.
“He said, ‘Look at this like an opportunity to have fun,’” Ryan said. “It stuck with me.”
They recorded the five tracks on the Eastwood Scoring Stage at the Warner Brothers lot, the same stage where “Up,” much of “Lost,” and old “Looney Tunes” scores were recorded.
“It’s such a historic space,” Ryan said. “I walked in there and literally got chills.”
Ryan has been passionate about films since he was young. As a kid, he collected film scores and made movies at home. However, it wasn’t until he started watching “Lost” that he realized how crucial music was to set the tone in film and television.
“That’s one of those moments where it dawned upon me, ‘Wow, you can actually do things with music,’” Ryan said.
But it was after composing a piece for his senior showcase in high school that Ryan decided that he wanted to compose music.
“From that point forward I was like, ‘You know what, this is what I want to do,’” he said.
But rather than study music, Ryan decided to study film. He was initially concerned that he would be at a disadvantage, but it was Giacchino again that served as a role model. Giacchino too had studied film in college and worked his way into the industry to compose.
In his 2010 Academy Award speech, Giacchino addressed people who wanted to get into the arts.
“If you want to be creative, get out there and do it. It’s not a waste of time,” Giacchino said.
Ryan said it was that speech that “kind of lit a fire under my ass” and prompted him to start working on more projects.
Last October, Ryan paired with a film student for “Scares and Scores” at Cosford Cinema. For the contest, one student made a short horror film while another composed the music. Despite being the only non-music major to score, Ryan won the contest.
“I was completely blown away,” he said.
All of this led up to his weekend recording with Giacchino, which Ryan said was the “greatest weekend” of his life.
“It was literally a dream come true, the whole thing,” he said.