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About the Film

“THE INSTRUMENT is a wonderfully imaginative and ambitious project, with visionary overtones.”

-Joyce Carol Oates

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Technical details

Director: Adam Nemett

TRT: 100 minutes

Shooting format: MiniDV, Super 16mm

Available screening formats: Digital HD, Digibeta, BetaSP, DVD, MiniDV, VHS

Production Company:  Magister Productions

Shooting Locations: Baltimore, MD & Princeton, NJ

Completed: January 2005

Premiered: April 24, 2005

An art school custodian dies and leaves behind the blueprints for a new system of ritual worship -- one based on music. Seven students are selected to live together in his sacred space, which soon becomes a magnifying glass for the fantasies and horrors hidden in the human mind.

The Quick Version

Arthur Zarek, an enigmatic art school custodian, dies and leaves behind the blueprints for a new system of ritual worship — one based on music. Seven students, including young filmmaker, Pallo Zo, are selected to live together in Arthur's sacred space (known as “The Instrument”) to delve into his spiritual legacy, and in turn, their own minds.

In order to fully claim their inheritance, the students must live together for one month, and learn to participate in these seven diverse musical rituals, each corresponding to a specific "waypoint" found in music and in life:

  1. Influx (receiving inspiration)
  2. Outflowing (manifesting action)
  3. Consonance (pleasure and ease)
  4. Dissonance (discomfort and difficulty)
  5. Exploration (improvisation)
  6. Silence (retraction)
  7. Harmony (equanimity)

Throughout their journey, Pallo relies on the meditative practices taught to him by Arthur namely, the power of Silence and he uses this spiritual practice to guide him through the collective rite of passage.

But when the rituals take a dark turn, The Instrument becomes a magnifying glass for the fantasies and horrors hidden in the human mind. Featuring an eclectic original score ranging from orchestral to electronic music, and all points in between, THE INSTRUMENT stands as a narrative portrait of musical meditation the spiritual power of Sound and of Silence.

“Welcome to The Instrument. Choose whatever resonates…”

Full Synopsis

Improvisation — the central ideal of THE INSTRUMENT — lies behind both the thematic intentions of the film and the actual process of its creation.  Just as the characters of the film undergo a process of learning to jive with all the actions and reactions, all the ups and downs present in an ever-changing reality, so have I tried to do the same as writer, director, and co-editor of this film.  This improvisatory perspective, I have come to believe, is not only the crux of the artistic and musical processes, but is also the essence of being in the world.

In short, THE INSTRUMENT is a meditative training in the art of improvisational living.

As human beings, we are constantly giving and receiving, attempting to discern the nature of our personal and extended worlds.  We are passionate beings, occasionally overwhelmed by the pretty or ugly.  We are explorers and circus performers who specialize in feats of balance.

It is the presence of surprise, the potential for experimentation, and the promise of discovery that gives life its majesty. The process I underwent while making this movie has allowed me to further realize my place as a student and a servant (a minister) in the world. The project has given, has provided intangible and immeasurable amounts of teaching.  I spend my days in the humbling presence of a Master (Magister), and it is an experience that resonates.  I have no choice but to love it.

We can only hope to be instruments, of all types and timbres, through which the jazz of existence is allowed to resound.

Statement of the Director

Full Cast & Crew

Title: The Instrument

Production Company: Magister Pictures, LLC

Director/Producer/Writer: Adam Nemett

Director of Photography (Digital): Frankie Tze Wei Ng

Director of Photography (Super 16 MM unit): Chris Freilich (Virtuoso Films)

Assistant Directors: Dan Wachtell, Evan Naides

Edited by: Macauley Peterson (MacauleyPeterson.com)

Shot by: Frankie Tze Wei Ng, Hilton Carter, Dan Wachtell, Chris Freilich

Cast/Members of the Composition: Hilton Carter, David Hittson, Heather Iandoli, Ajay Kapur,  Jamie Klassel, Jose Mertz, Taryn Wayne; with Tim Fowler, Richard Kalter, Barry Nemett and David Cooper. Featuring Cornel West.

Music Directed by: David Hittson and Ajay Kapur

Costume Design: Jennifer Brea, Penelope Tang, Rachel Katz, and John Giglio

Hair and Makeup Design: Annalisa Rosemarin

Filmed at: The Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD; Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia, PA; Princeton, NJ;

Release Date: April 24, 2005