The Great American Southwest Adventure Continues!


Driving South from Brice Canyon, we made our way to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, in Northern Arizona just south of the Utah border.




Most people who visit the Grand Canyon only make it to the South Rim (I read that the North Rim receives only 10% of Grand Canyon visitors).  The South Rim may be a bit more easily accessible (compared to the North), and it may also have far more major viewpoints.  But the North Rim is quite spectacular in its own right.  With views and vegetation particular to its side of the canyon.





NR - Map


Above an overall map of the North Rim.  Below, the insert showing the North Rim Visitor Center and Bright Angel Point, where our first pics and videos were taken.








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Director’s Circle Tell-Tale Screening

Directors Circle logo


The Director’s Circle Festival Of Shorts, an online film festival, is screening “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” this week.

For a small fee, $1.99, you can watch the musical Edgar Allan Poe adaptation, from now through December 7.  You can also vote for the festival’s Audience Award.

Link to the DCFS Tell-Tale screening portal.


TTH Poster Screenshot

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Top Shorts Winner The Tell-Tale Heart - a Musicabre design


Just woke up to the news that Top Shorts Online Film Festival has given me their First Time Director Award for my short film “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre“.

As you can tell from the thumbnail picture Top Shorts posts to access the Tell-Tale Heart trailer on their website, I am absolutely thrilled!

Screen Shot 2019-11-30 at 9.11.46 AM


But no, seriously, I really am thrilled.  Thank you, Top Shorts!

Top Shorts Certificate The Tell-Tale Heart - a Musicabre

But wait, there’s more!

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SFAAF title and statues


5 “Best” and 2 “Honorable Mentions”


SFAAF statue longThe South Film and Arts Academy Festival just announced their November awards.  And they bestowed a whole bucketful on “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre“.


I submitted to the festival as a short film, even though at 37 minutes we were a bit over their 35 minute cut off for the length of short films (Most festivals have a 40 minute cut off, but longer and shorter cut offs are common).  I had contacted the festival and asked for an exemption, considering the two minutes over the limit are basically the film’s opening and end credits.  They allowed me to submit as a “Horror Short”.


But then they evidently changed their mind, because “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” was bumped up into the feature length category.  Where it won 5 awards and 2 honorable mentions.  But not as horror feature…


SFAAF logo crop


SFAAF Feature Films


“The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” won Best Musical Feature in a group of Best Feature winners that includes Indie, Drama, Horror, Experimental, Documentary and First Feature.


SFAAT Musical


SFAAF statues

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It’s here!

The trailer for

“The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre”!



A big thank you to Stolis Hadjicharamboulas, Tell-Tale‘s editor, for putting that together with me.

Hope you enjoy it!


Meanwhile, several more festivals have made us one of their official selections – see them listed below.


But first another UPDATE:

Genre Celebration Festival just informed me I have been nominated in the Best Horror Short and Best Actor categories.

Genre Celebration Nominee Best Horror Short 2019Genre Celebration Nominee Best Actor 2019



Accolade Global Film Competition gave us an Award of Merit for Short Film:

Accolade Award of Merit


And one more UPDATE:

Top Shorts have upgraded us from Official selection to Top 50 Semifinalist:

__Top Shorts Semi-Finalist 2019 TOP50 mq

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LIAFF laurel


The L’Age d’Or International Arthouse Film Festival has given “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” three awards in October’s edition of their monthly selections.



LIAFF about

LIAFF comp


“The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” is a “Best Actor” award winner, and achieved the runner-up “Outstanding Achievement” awards for Best Short and Best Score.

Thank you, L’Age D’Or!



LAge dOr - Actor Award

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Panaroma View of Grand-Staircase Escalante



I haven’t completed posting my tour of the Great Parks of the American Southwest.  Just took a little pause.  Coming up next, the Grand Canyon!

But first, to re-whet the appetite, a quick panorama faraway view of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  We caught these views at the Le Fevre Overlook and Rest Area, as we drove south from Utah into Arizona.  This was after we’d been to Zion and Bryce Canyon and were now making our way to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.






(Bryce Canyon would be visible just north of Alton if this map detail stretched that high.  And that body of water by Page is Lake Powell.  We’ll be getting there too.)



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Screen Shot 2019-10-12 at 11.09.15 PM


Well, one long national nightmare is finally over…


It’s been too long.  He should not have been invited onto the show in the first place, because it was likely from the beginning and now has been painfully born out, that it wouldn’t be his dancing, or his character, that would sustain his presence, but only raw tribal political allegiance from a stubborn spiteful minority, to the detriment of everything else, causing more damage to the show than any other previous “controversial” contestant.

Meanwhile, for too many weeks, better dancers, better people exited before him…


Goodbye Spicer, ‘tsnot been nice

You’ve no place in paradise

Take your lying point of view

You’ve betrayed what’s right and true


“Goodbye Bruno, goodbye Len

Will we ever meet again?”

In the finals for a spell

Then it’s back to Liar’s Hell



Screen Shot 2019-10-12 at 11.19.58 PM

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Tell-Tale Director Award


I received a directing award from the So You Think You Can Act competition.

It feels a bit odd typing that, but it’s true; So You Think You Can Act recently added a directing category to their competition, and I decided not to submit myself as an actor but as a director instead.

Screen Shot 2019-11-09 at 8.09.09 PMThe reason for that mainly is they wanted actors to submit a reel of their best bits, or a 5 minute excerpt, but for directors they accepted a completed film.  I wan’t yet able to submit a reel, or even an excerpt at that point of time, but I was able to submit the only just finished film of “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre“.

And that is how I wound up submitting myself as a director to what is mainly touted as an acting competition.

And it worked out.  I received a Gold Award for directing, with the added enhancement (at their discretion) of not just “Excellence” (that’s an option too, as are “Exceptional Merit”, “Merit” and “Kudos”), but “Outstanding Excellence”.

So that’s pretty cool.  Thank you, SYTYCA!


SYRYCA laurel

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TT - IndieFest Award of Merit


Some more good early news for my film “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre“.


The IndieFEST Awards have given it two Awards of Merit:


Award of Merit: Actor: Leading (Danny Ashkenasi as Narrator)

Award of Merit: Film Short


And on the same day I was notified that the film is an official selection of the Gold Movie Awards – the equivalent there of making it to the Quarterfinals.


OFFICIAL SELECTION - Gold Movie Awards - 2020

Meanwhile The IndieFEST recognition comes with an official press release:

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TT Best Actor 1

Fun news!

I was awarded a Gold Award for Best Actor in a Horror by the Best Actor Awards, a film festival based in Italy that awards acting awards every two months.


TT Best Actor 2


I submitted my performance in “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” in the Drama/Horror category and am the only honoree in that category for the September/October cycle.



TT - Best Actor 3


I’ve only just begun submitting the finished film to festivals.  It’s going to be at least a full year’s process.  This is a nice early shot of encouragement.


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An International Smorgasbord of QUEER CINEMA for 2019/2020



Last weekend I dove into NewFest 2019, New York City’s LGBTQ Film Festival, enjoying 18 screenings over 5 days.  Overall I did well, truly disliking only one of the 15 features and 26 shorts I saw.

Here are my recommendations, a smorgasbord of Queer cinema to watch out for, starting with my top three favorites:


And Then We Danced

NF3 - And then we dancedSweden’s official Oscar submission for Best International Film (the erstwhile Foreign Film category), “And Then We Danced” won the NewFest Audience Award.  Set in the world of Georgian traditional dance, it is an exquisitely fashioned film with an electrifying central performance (Levan Gelbakhiani) and vibrantly authentic depictions of Georgian society, relationships and dance.  Writer/Director Levan Akin had to make the film almost guerrilla style in conservative, homophobic Georgia, but the result is not only a great LGBTQ movie, a great dance movie, but simply one of the year’s best films in any category.


The Shiny Shrimps

NF2 - the_shiny_shrimps_still

This charmer about a French gay water polo team was co-written and co-directed by a member of an actual French gay water polo team, Cédric Le Gallo, who insists that all the high jinks and high spirits depicted in the film are true to life, even if the plot of the film is pure fiction.  The plot concerns an Olympic swimmer being forced to redeem himself – and be allowed to continue competing at Olympic level – after being caught on camera making a homophobic remark.  So he coaches The Shiny Shrimps, a team of varied misfits much like the gay soccer players of “Guys and Balls“, going on a cross-continental bus trip much like in “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”, and sporting a laughs to tears ratio reminiscent of “Four Weddings and a Funeral”.  Featuring a fine ensemble cast (that includes Geoffrey Couët from the seminal “Paris 05:59: Theo and Hugo”), “The Shiny Shrimps” may echo many past ensemble comedy classics, but also holds up well beside them.  I laughed (and cried) the most at its screening during the festival.


Music for Bleeding Hearts

NF4- 0MAIN_MusicForBleedingHearts_01-Diana-AlmeidaOne could say Brazilian writer/director Rafael Gomes’ São Paulo set comedy “Music for Bleeding Hearts” concerns a love triangle, but that would seriously simplify the complicated relationship shifts between the three leads as well as many others in their orbits.  Life and love’s messiness is made even more complicated as well as fascinating by Gomes editing, jumping back and forth in time, comparing and contrasting characters’ past and present actions.   After all the complications and diversions, Gomes manages to conclude the film on the perfect note.  Not necessarily a conclusive ending to the story (because life itself goes on and on) but a perfect final shot for a really good film.  And that elevated “Music for Bleeding Hearts” to my top three of the festival.  Afterwards I literally (as in physically) pushed Ed to speak to Gomes in Portuguese, a fanboy moment out of character, and which was a little awkward for the three of us, but one I don’t regret at all.  Sometimes you just got to gush, especially if it can be done in the director’s native language.

“The Shiny Shrimps” and “And Then We Danced” have US distribution.  The former is scheduled for release in January, the latter’s release date hasn’t been announced yet, but it surely will be released in theaters eventually (maybe after its hoped for and likely International Film Oscar nomination).  “Music for Bleeding Hearts” opens in Brazil in March 2020.  Hopefully it will make its way to US screens too.

There are many more recommendations to make amongst the films I caught at NewFest, most of which will hopefully make their way to some sort of screen near you soon:

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Some Choice Quotes from “LESS”

Screen Shot 2019-10-19 at 11.02.13 AM


I just finished Andrew Sean Greer’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel “Less”.  It’s a really good read, with lots of writing you just want to quote for the pleasure of it.  So I will.  Here are some choice bits from “Less”, none of which give away the plot, by the way:


On Visiting New York City

“New York is a city of eight million people, approximately seven million of whom will be furious when they hear you were in town and didn’t meet them for an expensive dinner, five million furious you didn’t visit their new baby, three million furious you didn’t see their new show, one million furious you didn’t call for sex, but only five actually available to meet you.  It is completely reasonable to call none of them.”


At a Bad Broadway Musical

“Like a bad lay, a bad musical can still do its job perfectly well.  By the end, Arthur Less is in tears, sobbing in his seat, and he thinks he has been sobbing quietly until the lights come up and the woman seated next to him turns and says, “Honey, I don’t know what happened in your life, but I am so sorry,” and gives him a lilac-scented embrace.  Nothing happened to me, he wants to say to her.  Nothing happened to me.  I’m just a homosexual at a Broadway show.


Screen Shot 2019-10-19 at 11.08.31 AM


Turning Fifty

“Strange to be almost fifty, no?  I feel like I just understood how to be young.”

“Yes!  It’s like the last day in a foreign country.  You finally figure out where to get the coffee, and drinks, and a good steak.  And then you have to leave.  And you won’t ever be back.”


(Speaking of turning 50…)

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It was June.  I was looking forward to finishing my short film “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre“, based on my musical adaptation of the Edgar Allan Poe story.




I was feeling good.  Post production was coming along steadily.  VFX work had been completed.  The final task was color grading.  Everybody expected the film to be done in a week, two at most.




So I confidently submitted the film to about a dozen film festivals, whose final submission dates were imminent.  I uploaded an unfinished work print of the film to qualify, with the expectation and promise that the finished work would be available for viewing in just a week or two, time enough for festival adjudicators.

It was an act of blind confidence I would come to regret.




The first pass at the color grading was completed.  But something went wrong when processing the data for me to view on line.




The film files were “stuck” in the hard drive.  There were delays as we tried to figure out the problem.




The hard drive holding the current version of the film was not responding anymore.  The hard drive had to be brought into the “shop”.  For analysis.

We waited for answers.

And waited…

and waited…




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Hiking the Peekaboo Loop Trail

and then the Queen’s Garden Trail

in Bryce Canyon




After hiking and driving along the Bryce Canyon rim and taking the Navajo Loop Trail, we returned the next day to hike from Bryce Point along the upper Peekaboo Loop Trail and on via the Queen’s Garden Trail to Sunrise Point.








That’s Ed in the pink shirt and the enormous fanny pack carrying most of our water supply and our lunch.  You’ll be seeing a lot of the back of him as I tend to fall behind while I take my many many photos.






See the opening center left?



Let’s zoom in a little closer…




We’ll be going through there ourselves in a little while…



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Entering the Canyon Walls of Bryce Canyon


After enjoying the awesome views of Bryce Canyon from all along the rim, it was time to go inside.  Here the view from the top at the Navajo Loop Trail.











Thor’s Hammer:



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