While attending the prestigious Berklee College of Music on scholarship, Zanelli dual majored in Film Scoring and Music Production/Engineering. He was the recipient of both the Doug Timm Award in recognition of his film scoring work and the Music Production and Engineering Scholar Award prior to graduating Magna Cum Laude. Zanelli then met Academy Award-winning film composer Hans Zimmer in 1994 and moved to Los Angeles to join Zimmer’s studio team. He became the assistant engineer on the debut album from Goldfinger, working with Grammy Award-winning producer Jay Rifkin for Media Ventures affiliate Mojo Records. His engineering background also proved valuable as an assistant engineer on Hans Zimmer's Academy Award-nominated score for The Preacher's Wife. Zanelli's experience led to working with British composer John Powell on his first Hollywood feature, Face/Off, directed by John Woo.
Throughout the following years, Zanelli was called on as a composer and arranger for Powell on many feature films, including The Prince of Egypt and Forces of Nature. He later teamed with Harry Gregson-Williams and Powell to write additional music for Antz and Chicken Run. This led to more collaborations, this time with Hans Zimmer on Hannibal, the Golden Globe-nominated scores for Pearl Harbor and The Last Samurai and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, as well as Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. He has since moved on to more solo work, scoring David Duchovny's feature directorial debut House of D, David Koepp’s Secret Window and Steven Spielberg's Golden Globe Nominated Into the West for Dreamworks/TNT, which also received 16 Emmy nominations. Zanelli won an Emmy for his score for Into the West, one of two Emmy wins for the show.
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