Inside the Perfect Circle


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photo by Peter Vidor

Perfection is a limited state of Being. Call me anything, but please don’t call me a Republican or a conformist. I never thought about being a non-conformist but, I learned very early in my life that conformity, particularly as an artist, is a cul-de-sac. I have worked with many extraordinary collaborative artists in my life including: Frank Zappa, Steve Vai, Anna Sokolow, Francois Gilot, Lucia Dlugoszewski, Virgil Thompson, Alexander Calder, AU Boskovich, Bob Brookmeyer, Sunny Murray, Mrinalini & Mallika Sarabhai, and many others. They were all a great inspiration in the evolution of my artistic vision. Non of them took the tired path of conformity. All of them broke traditional boundaries and developed new transcendental visions!
– Joel Thome

I first met Joel in 2009 just a week before we began filming. He had seen a copy of a documentary I made about the band Phish’s infamously cursed farewell tour through New England in 2004, “We Enjoy Yourself”, which was premiering at the NJ Film Festival that week. Joel liked the film very much and we got to talking about his work, particularly about his upcoming mandala concert. After some discussion with him about modern music and his approach to composition, I decided to spend the month in NYC and begin a new documentary about Joel’s life. I have always been interested in music, having been a student of composition and film at the University of Redlands, and I was quick to be drawn in by Joel’s unusual approach to composition and notation. We spent many hours together doing interviews for the film, and Joel told many great stories, only a small portion of which I was able to include in the 60-minute final cut.



This film is unlike any other project I’ve undertaken. Though I’d always been very involved in music, my experience with modern music was quite limited. Working on this documentary helped open my mind to hearing all types of sound and noise as music, and the experience has completely changed the way that I perceive abstract music. Now that the film has been completed and is ready for screening, I am excited to be able to share this window into new music with an audience. I know that people are going to find Joel’s story and his music to be fascinating, as I have.


– Director Chris Pepino


Inside the Perfect Circle is the winner of the AUDIENCE AWARD: DOC MIAMI INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2011


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