Thank You to the Crew of “The Pit and the Pendulum – a musicabre”

Charlotte Purser, Sami Eddy, Jimmy McCoy, Katie Conway, Han Jang Houston
Mariana Soares da Silva
Ja’rel Ivory
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(More about all that to be posted soon … )

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P&P – Today the Hair Gets Shorn!

Today I cut my hair. All of it. Off. Beard too. I’ll be completely clean shaven and bald.

This has been in the works for over a year.

I got the closest hair cut of my life July 2019, and have let those follicles grow ever since, and when I realized that I would be going from long hair to bald for the sake on my new film “The Pit and the pendulum – a musicabre“, I knew I would just let it keep growing until we were in production. The longer the hair the greater the contrast to the bald version of me, and that would suit the film.

You can see the progression of me from short to long here, and a recent shot of my hair at its longest here, and, well, now here, in this post.

Yesterday we did a shot that required lots of hairspray. I washed out my hair on set. These selfies I took whole blowing my hair dry. I thought, let’s give my Veronica Lakers one last public hurrah. After all, this is these hairs’ last evening on Earth. Tomorrow they get tied into pony tales and snipped off, then put into ziplock baggies to be sent to a charity that makes wigs for cancer patients. What’s left of the hairs on my scalp will get shaven clean. As will my face.

It’s all part of the plan for the film. Why? What narrative purpose does it fulfill?

You’ll have to wait and see for that answer…

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Skiptown Playhouse Film Festival Awards

“The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre”


an incredible delightful distinction vs an insignificant dialectic dilemma

As Vincenzo CarubiaI, festival director of the Los Angeles based Skiptown Playhouse International Film Festival, elaborates in announcing the winners:

“It feels like it’s been a forever journey to get to this point. 

In November of 2019 we began receiving submissions for what was supposed to be our OCTOBER 2020 Festival and second annual one at that. Our festival finally took place from JUNE 24 – JUNE 30 2021 after a long postponement.

I know everyone is super eager for the results of this festival. Please know that the decisions were made by several judges involved and your projects were watched multiple times.

The decisions are NEVER EASY, but I need remind you that at the end of the day we thoroughly enjoyed all of your projects and there is a bit of magic and something special about every one of them. I’m honored to have had you included in this season as I spent a solid year and a half with this round of films.”


As you can see from the Skiptown festival 2020 winners page and the laurel above, “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” was awarded Best Musical Performance.

Curiously, well, maybe only curious to me, the official certificate states the recognition is for “Best Musical Short”:

Now I’m not trying to be greedy here.

I don’t think I won two awards.

And I do think the officially intended nod is to the “musical performance”.

But this is one of those times where my tendency towards debating fine distinctions could get the better of me…

Instead, let’s try a distraction; here’s a look at part of the Skiptown Winner Wall (d’you see me?):

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P&P – And So It Begins

We have had two shooting days on “The Pit and the Pendulum – a musicabre“. And I already have enough material for maybe four production diary posts, including one that will be quite the doozy! But I probably won’t have time to post any of these until I come up for air…

Meanwhile, as a taste, here is a glimpse of me in my main costume. A 17th century Spanish-style doublet, which was tailor made by costume designer Anthony Paul-Cavaretta, who was also responsible for dressing my first musical Poe short “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre“.

I took this selfie just outside the Theater for the New City, where again we have converted one of their theater spaces into a film sound stage.

And if you look real closely, you may get a hint of one of the upcoming production diary blog posts that will be quite the doozy!

Stay tuned.

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Introducing the Pit and Pendulum Page

Next week we go into production for my Tell-Tale follow-up “The Pit and the Pendulum – a musicabre”. I hope to post some on-set diary entries; if I find time; we’ll see…

Either way more news on my next short musical film will be forthcoming, so the time has come to set up a designated Pit and Pendulum page here on Notes from a Composer.

Currently it includes links to previous articles about the project. Over time the page will surely grow, just like the Tell-Tale page has.

To go to the Pit and Pendulum page, click it on the black banner above, or click here.

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P&P – Intimations of the Horrors to Come

Next week “The Pit and the Pendulum – a musicabre”, the follow up to my first musical Edgar Allan Poe short film adaptation “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre“, goes into production.

So now is a good time to share a little hint, some visual foreshadowings, of some of the horrors planned for this new film…

What you are looking at are test shots I took with my phone in my bathroom. They will serve as guides for some very particular shots we are planning for “The Pit and the Pendulum – a musicabre”.

Do you remember when I teased this picture of a face cast as a hint of what’s to come for P&P? Perhaps now you can deduce why we needed to make that face cast…

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ALASKA – Harvard Glacier

We visited Harvard Glacier. Which is just left of Yale Glacier. And up from Vassar Glacier, Bryn Mawr Glacier, Smith Glacier… in College Fjord, Alaska.

I’m not kidding. There is a College Fjord with about a half dozen glaciers named after ivy league schools, all part of Prince William Sound.

And from Whittier, Alaska, an hour or so from Anchorage, you can take a day trip cruise to those glaciers and more. Which we did, enjoying some grand views and spectacular glacier calvings and fun animal sightings.

The marina in Whittier.

The route we took was almost the same as the dotted line outlined here. We didn’t take the Barry arm, but instead went to the Blackstone and Beloit glaciers (to the left on this map).

The Billings glacier is one of the first we saw from the boat.

Ed being “the King of the World”. That allusion will come back to haunt us later…

A stiff chill wind blew on deck…

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ALASKA – High Times, Low Tide, and Wild Life in Turnagain Arm

Mountain Vistas, Sweeping Inlets, and Alaskan Animals

Turnagain Arm is a narrow branch of Cook Inlet, in the northwestern part of the Gulf of Alaska. It received its name when Captain Cook went down that way, sure he had found the Northwest Passage from the Pacific to Atlantic oceans. He was wrong, and had to turn back again.

Tides are extreme in Turnagain Arm. The day we touristed there it was mostly low tide.

Here are two maps to orient you to Turnagain Arm’s location just south of Anchorage.

Ed, to the right, and his sister Shonti.

A Dall Sheep on top of a mountain…

Zooming back from the Dall Sheep …

… zooming back …

… back to from where I took the pictures of the sheep.

Low Tide shimmering in Turnagain Arm

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It’s quite the weekend for dismembered hearts beating under floorboards! From the UK to OHIO!

If you are not in London tonight, where “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” is playing at the Romford Horror Independent Film Festival, but you happen to be in or near Cleveland instead…

You can take in yet another screening of “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” this Sunday 1:40pm at the Horror Hotel Film Festival.

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Tell-Tale at Romford this Saturday

If you happen to be in or near London this weekend, you can see my award-winning short film musical Edgar Allan Poe adaptation (deep breath) “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” this Saturday at 9:30pm (London time) in an actual movie theater (take that, Covid!) as part of the Romford Horror Independent Film Festival in Romford just east of East Ham (deep breath) in London!

Click Here or Here for more info or tickets!

Where exactly is Romford, just how far east of East Ham?

Maybe these will help:

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The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” received a special mention citation for music

from the Fixion Fantastic & Horror Film Festival in Santiago, Chile!

Or rather, a …

Mención Especial por Música: Danny Ashkenasi por The Tell-Tale Heart-A Musicabre (USA)

(Looks so much sexier in Spanish…)

Further down the webpage they do list the winners in English as well, but I prefer reading the announcement in Spanish (and not just because of the incorrect konjunctions) …

UPDATE: These arrived in the mail this June 2:

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Caribou, Moose and Bears, Oh My!

and the Highest Mountain in North America!

That bear at the top is a bit of a teaser. We’ll see him, and his bear companion, and just how close they got to us, later in the post.

Let’s start at the beginning, driving up to Denali National Park, home to Denali, heretofore known as Mount McKinley, at 6190.5 m (20,310 ft) the highest peak in North America and and third-most topographically isolated summit on Earth after Mount Everest and Aconcagua.

Our first views of Denali were from hundreds of miles away, as it rose over the horizon viewed from the south by a lake.

We were very lucky with the weather. Denali is often obscured by clouds. Only 30% of the time – or 1 out if 3 days – is the mountain visible.

The two days of our travel up to Denali and our tour in the Denali National Park were both one out of the three days.

Denali is an Athabascan word meaning “the high one”.

The Alaska Range, as seen from Talkeetna.

In case you need some orientation…

The hotel in Talkeetna where we caught the above view of Denali boasts this big grizzly.

It’s behind the glass. Ed is in front.

Actual live bears coming up later.

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There’s a Butte, specifically the Bodenberg Butte, in Alaska. It sits north of Anchorage in the Mat-Su Valley, and it makes for a lovely, steep hike and a really good spot on top from which to get some spectacular views of the mountain ranges, river valleys, and glaciers that surround it.

The above and below pictures show Bodenberg Butte in the foreground with Pioneer Peak towering behind.

This picture includes the Matanuska River curving in front.

Here’s a primer on how the Ice Age glaciers formed the region and the Butte.

Here’s a map detail of the region. The red marker points at Pioneer Peak. Matanuska River ambles along Route 1.

First some pics on our drive to the Butte. Byers Peak AKA Matanuska Peak is up ahead.

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The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre“, my musical short film Edgar Allan Poe adaptation, has been making the festival rounds since November 2019. And it’s still going strong, even though a one year to 18 month festival run is (so I’ve been told) the maximum one should expect for any short film and I have long ago stopped submitting it to festivals. But Covid 19 disrupted the 2020 festival season and in many ways has stretched it deep into 2021. Festivals postponed or cancelled, screened on-line, put on some version of in-person screenings or managed some combination of these options.

For me, long past the 18 month mark, it appears that the festival run for “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” is still ongoing, and just looking at June alone, very busy. Now there is another festival announcement to share. The Halloween Horror Picture Show will be screening Tell-Tale in August.

This will mark Tell-Tale’s third screening in Florida. And like its first Florida screening in Dunedin, back in January, 2020, before the pandemic shut-downs, it will be an in-person rather than virtual event. Interestingly, Dunedin is just a hop-skip away from Tampa, where The Halloween Horror Picture Show is located, so it might seem like a bit of a homecoming.

Except that this year The Halloween Horror Picture Show is not taking place in Tampa but will be part of Megacon Orlando August 12-15. Tell-Tale will screen Friday, August 13. Orlando is where Tell-Tale had enjoyed its second Florida film festival screening, albeit virtually, last August at the Orlando International Film Festival.

I expect I will be sharing more about Tell-Tale’s third Florida adventure when it takes place in August. For now, if you plan to be in Orlando then, keep an ear out for disemboweled hearts beating under floorboards. If they sound like cellos, they are courtesy of “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre”.

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The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” has been nominated for

Short Narrative, Experimental Short and Best Actor in a Short

at the Skiptown Playhouse International Film Festival,

presenting this June 24 – July 1 in Hollywood, CA.

The Skiptown festival was supposed to take place last fall, but, you know, Covid 19. But now it’s going forth late June, which means it’ll be an even busier festival month for my musical Edgar Allan Poe adaptation than I thought in my last post.

Meanwhile, I’m pleased to share the three nominations “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” received:

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