Penn State graduate and musician Zak Sobel’s life has taken him on a different path than originally planned.
Although he never intended to go into the film business, Sobel was given the opportunity to work on a movie called “Hansel & Gretel Get Baked,” which was released Feb. 19.
Sobel, Class of 2011, said that after he earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a minor in Jewish studies he planned on going into graduate school.
From there Sobel said he planned to go into teaching, until he was presented with the chance to get involved in composing music for the film industry.
Upon graduation, the guitarist said he had booked a tour along the East Coast and it was there that he met a producer working on a new film. Sobel said after he and the producer talked, he went to California for a few meetings and next thing he knew he was signing paperwork to play for the movie.
“I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” he said in reference to his future. “[But] who would pass up the opportunity to move to California and work on a film?”
Sobel moved to California and began working on the film, “Hansel and Gretel Get Baked.”
“It’s a horror comedy about a brother and sister who battle a witch who kills her customers and makes pot out of them,” he said.
The film is produced by the producer of “The Twilight Saga” and distributed by Robert De Niro’s company, Tribeca Film, he said.
Sobel became the music supervisor, composer of original music, and associate producer of the film.
He said he composed three music pieces for “Hansel and Gretel Get Baked,” including “420 Eyes,” which plays over the opening credits; “The Witch,” which plays over the ending credits and “Six Feet Deep,” which is featured in two different scenes throughout the movie.
Sobel said now that “Hansel and Gretel Get Baked” is finished, he’s moved onto a new project working for Fallout Entertainment on a film called “Underdogs.”
He said he wants to further explore producing because that is what he currently knows. He said he also likes being “in charge of all of the music and sound production on the post-production side of film[s].”
“I love the position of music supervisor because it’s a business position but a creative position as well,” he said.
As a musician in the State College area when attending the university, Sobel said he played the bar scenes downtown, most often performing at Café 210 West, 210 W. College Ave.,and The Darkhorse Tavern, 127 E. Calder Way..
He said that although he was not as interested in playing covers of other musicians’ music, he still really enjoyed playing at the bars.
Sobel said he had always loved music and enjoyed being in a band, but never knew where it would take him.
Six years previous to Sobel’s success in the film business he said he decided he was going to play guitar.
“I guess I picked up a guitar for the first time because my friends wanted me to play [it] so we could play together,” he said.
When he heard of the “Movin’ On” festival at Penn State, Sobel said it was something he wanted to know more about and wanted to be involved in.
“When I found out what ‘Movin’ On’ was, I was definitely interested,” he said.
In 2010, Sobel said he was given the chance to play Penn State’s “Movin’ On” concert in one of his friend’s bands.
But in 2011, he and his own band, The Zak Sobel Band, opened for O.A.R at “Movin’ On,” Sobel said.
It was a lot of fun playing to a [large] crowd,” he said.
Sobel said that being at Penn State, getting to know many musicians and becoming well-rounded helped prepare him for the future.
Originally from Long Island, Sobel always knew he had wanted to go to Penn State because his grandfather had gone there, he said.
“I think I knew from the time I [could] talk that I wanted to go there,” he said. “I love Penn State.”
He said he loved his time spent in Happy Valley because the lead guitarist in the band was his best friend.
Sobel said working with other musicians and getting many opportunities to play for different audiences helped to build his “general musicianship,” and in turn helped him get to where he is today.
William Pencak, professor of American History, said that Sobel was always in class and was a hard worker during his time at Penn State.
“He was an excellent student,” Pencak said.
Pencak called Sobel’s music “very mellow.”
“[Sobel plays] songs that make you think about life,” he said.
Pencak said that he once had a bunch of students over to his house and Sobel brought his guitar to play for everyone. Sobel said that he and his band played whenever they possibly could.
“We wanted any reason to play and to practice our music and play in front of people,” he said.
Alberto Vargas, drummer and fellow musician of Sobel’s, said that spending his time playing music with his close friend was something he enjoyed.
“Playing with my best friend was one of the best things I could ask for,” he (senior-nutrition) said.
Vargas said he and Sobel played at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of Arts in the summer of 2010.
He said they often liked to improvise and played a song that summer at Arts Fest that they had just created.
“We made up a song the day before,” Vargas said. “We played it for the first time [that day].”
Sobel said he doesn’t know what the future holds for him, but he’s going to “ride this [career] out for as long as [he] can.”