Q2 2018

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28 CINEMONTAGE / Q2 2018 by Peter Tonguette T o hear Robert "Bubba" Nichols describe it, working as a recordist sounds a little like serving as a fighter pilot. Okay, okay — pilots operate under life-and-death pressures in the air, while recordists toil under far less challenging conditions on a re-recording stage. Even so, both professions demand precision and punctuality. When assigned to a film or television show, Nichols must adhere to a tight schedule as he works to assure that the sound elements for which he is responsible have been delivered properly. After determining that they are ready for the ears of the re-recording mixer, Nichols transfers the material to the mixing board, and the soundscape of a project starts to solidify. "My job is to listen and make sure that the music is being laid down properly and we don't have any hiccups," Nichols says. "You don't want any sound effects or any kind of dropouts in the music, obviously, and if you hear something, you flag it right away. Downtime is a thousand dollars a minute. When reels are rolling, you keep rolling. There is no time for errors." The fast pace and high stakes might be familiar to the characters who headline one of Nichols' favorite projects, the military action film Top Gun, which racked up close to $180 million at the box office when released in May 1986. Featuring a group of bold, brazen naval aviators whose derring-do has led to their admission to a flying school, the Paramount Pictures release was directed by Tony Scott and stars Tom Cruise (Lt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell), Val Kilmer (Lt. Tom "Iceman" Kazanski), Anthony Edwards (Lt. Nick "Goose" Bradshaw) and Kelly McGillis (Charlotte "Charlie" Blackwood, an instructor and romantic interest). "To this day, if I was on a desert island, Top Gun would be one of the five movies I would want," comments Nichols, who represents the recordists classification on the Guild's Board of Directors. "It's as simple as that." Nichols, however, did not have to attend the equivalent of a flying school to learn his trade. As the son of longtime MGM sound department employee Bob Nichols, the youngster grew up in the shadow of the industry, spending MY MOST MEMORABLE FILM Robert "Bubba" Nichols on 'Top Gun' CONTINUED ON PAGE 30 Top Gun. Paramount Pictures/ Photofest Robert "Bubba" Nichols. Photo by Martin Cohen

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