Spring 2015

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22 CINEMONTAGE / SPRING 2015 less experimental musically," Sobel says, comparing the film to his and Nitzsche's earlier efforts. "A traditional score is the kind of music that could work for this." But Hackford did not want too much tradition in the music. A self- described "rock 'n roller," the director disliked the idea of a conventional "string score" for the project, and was instead intrigued with Nitzsche's rock music credentials. "I felt that the main characters — the young people who were in Officer and a Gentleman — listened to rock 'n roll," Hackford recalls. Nitzsche produced a score that melded strong themes with unique instrumentation. Sobel explains, "He took a non-orchestral approach to it in many ways, with guitars and drums, but with an orchestra overlay." A native of Detroit, Sobel also had a keen appreciation of the power of rock 'n roll. He initially had notions of becoming a doctor before an interest in music took over for good; in his senior year at the University of Michigan, he abandoned his pre-med path and made plans to enroll in Boston's Berklee College of Music, but not before receiving a bachelor of general studies degree. After receiving and arrangement and composition degree from Berklee, the guitar player moved to Los Angeles with the intent of becoming a film composer. A chance meeting with a projectionist at Todd-AO led to his detour into music editing. "At the end of a hall, I heard music coming out of an editing room," Sobel remembers. "I walked down the hallway, and met Dan Carlin, Jr." The meeting led to Sobel getting a job at LaDa Productions — but not before he re-examined his career path. After Carlin, Sr., made note of Sobel's goal to become a composer, he expressed reluctance about hiring him. "For the first time, I realized that music editing afforded an incredible opportunity for someone like me in terms of meeting those composers — the people I admired and collected in soundtracks, like Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams and Alex North," Sobel says. "I said to Dan, 'I think that music editing is an incredible profession and I would like to try that. And I promise you, I will not pick up and leave after you've trained me.'" Sobel stuck with it, but never could have guessed that he would soon be involved with a film that would prove as successful — and that would ask as much of him — as An Officer and a Gentleman. The experience was, he says, the first in which he felt he was "a real part of the editing room." Picture editor Peter Zinner, ACE, having once worked as a music editor himself, had a keen appreciation for the job, and Hackford seized on Sobel as a musical ally of sorts. "I have a real musical ear, and I know what I want in sequences," Hackford says, adding that if a piece of music doesn't work in a given scene, he wants to "cut it so that it works." "Curt, being a musician that he is, was the easiest for me to work with," he continues. "We get into an editing room, I say, 'I want to take this down, I want to make this moment happen, I want that warmth in this particular moment of the film.' And he'll cut it, and I'll say, 'No, no, no, it's not quite there yet.' But we get it right every time." The main theme Nitzsche composed for the film is as bold and brash as the film's lead character; it's first heard over a close-up of Zack's upper arm, on which he places a bandage to conceal a tattoo unbecoming for a would-be officer. The credits begin to appear, and the camera pans with Zack as he walks to his motorcycle. "It hits hard on that motorcycle shot, where you have the title," Hackford says, referring to the simultaneous moment when Zack jumps on his motorcycle, the words "An Officer and a Gentleman" appear on screen and Nitzsche's score reaches its crescendo. Then, as Zack enters the base housing the school, the music begins to dim — the entire sequence illustrates how music editing can bring a cue in and take a cue out gracefully. "I'm soon fading it out because I want to get to Sergeant Foley," Hackford explains. "It was a very lovely way to deliver the audience right to a very potent opening sequence." Sobel recalls listening to the Nitzsche's themes for the first time at his house: "On a piano, that sounds very different from what it became eventually, but you can hear it is a structured melody, and something we hadn't done in the three previous films." But all was not smooth sailing. Working on the film, Sobel encountered several scenes MY MOST MEMORABLE FILM An Officer and A Gentlemen. Paramount Pictures/ Photofest

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