The 9th annual Ojai Film Festival spools out its programs Nov. 6-9 at the premiere five-diamond resort, the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa.
The festival's lifetime achievement honorees are already in place - with "America’s sci-fi author," Ray Bradbury, along with the highly acclaimed directing/producing team of Lauren Shuler Donner and Richard Donner, receiving honors on Saturday evening.
The Donners have asked to screen “Ladyhawke” and Bradbury has asked to screen “The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit.” The latter was never released theatrically.
Presenters at the Lifetime Achievement Awards include: Diane Ladd, Edward James Olmos, Malcolm McDowell, and video tributes from Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.
Ojai’s 2008 program will give moviegoers a choice of more than 50 films to see in addition to the special events, screenings, seminars and golf classic.
In honor of his California visit, Bradbury has released this interview that he did with a 7th grader.
An Interview of Ray Bradbury by Devin Kelly, 2008
Ray Bradbury Theater and Film Foundation
Devin Kelly: Hello my name is Devin Kelly I’m in the seventh grade in the Our Lady of Conception School in Ventura,California. I’m honored to be with Ray Bradbury in his study.
Thank you for letting me interview you.
Ray Bradbury: It’s a pleasure. Thank you.
Devin Kelly: Ray, how did you know you would be a writer when you were so young?
Ray Bradbury: I remember being born. That’s a good way to start. From the very moment I was born, I remembered everything that happened, so every single minute and hour in all the years of my life, I had the total desire and the need and the ability to see and remember the rest of my life.
Devin Kelly: Who inspires you to write?
Ray Bradbury: All lot of writers do and a lot of movie stars do. I started going to movies when I was three years old. And I saw the Hunchback of Notre Dame with Lon Chaney and I hoped to grow up and become a hunchback. I saw Lon Chaney, about the Opera in Paris, Phantom of the Opera. I saw all the other great actors and then I began to read Edgar Rice Burroughs who wrote Tarzan books and so I read the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs and he inspired me to be a writer.
Devin Kelly: What was your favorite book when you were 12? And did your favorite book change you a lot or stay constant?
Ray Bradbury: My favorite book was Tarzan of the Apes. I read that when I was 9 yrs old. I loved the way Edgar Rice Burroughs got Tarzan in the trees. Then when I was 12 and 13, I read the all the Martian books of Edgar Rice Burroughs so when I wrote my first book when I was 12 years old, it was a sequel to the Martian Books of Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Devin Kelly: I love dinosaurs and a friend of yours told me that you made a pact with Ray Harryhausen to never grow up and always love dinosaurs. Is that true?.
Ray Bradbury: That’s very well put. When I was six years old, a film came out called The Lost World and Ray Harryhausen, who was born the same time I was, saw that film and fell in love with the dinosaurs. I met him when we were 18. He told me he was creating dinosaurs. Oh, I thought oh my God, that’s wonderful. So he took me to his house and introduced me to his dinosaurs and they were all around him and then he showed me a film he was making where dinosaurs come to life, and I thought oh that’s wonderful, maybe I can write for him. I told Ray Harryhausen, I hope you will write forever. When we are the right age, you can make a film about dinosaurs and I will write the screenplay. So it didn’t happen until we were 30 years old. We decided to do a film together called The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. So it finally happened and It began when I was 18 years old with Ray Harryhausen.
Devin Kelly: Do you believe there are other sentient life forms in our universe?
Ray Bradbury: I think they are everywhere. The whole universe is alive. The cosmos is fantastic and the whole extent of the light year universe is incredible. It is billions of light years across. And that cosmos is fantastic. It’s alive, just like we are alive.
Devin Kelly: With painting and music there are techniques to learn early on. Are there techniques I need to learn when I’m beginning to write?
Ray Bradbury: What you do is you just sit down and write. There are no techniques. You learn them. Everyday, just sit down and write a short story. You teach yourself. You go to the library and you have the books teach you. You pick the books you want to read. You’ve got Edgar Rice Burroughs. Edgar Rice Burroughs will teach you. If you love Jules Verne, you read his books, he will teach you how to write. If you like H G Wells, and his book, The Invisible Man, he will teach you. It’s the theory of doing, regardless. Your authors are surrounding you and the very fact they are in the room with you, they teach you.
Devin Kelly: If you don’t like what you are writing, should you always try to fix it or move on to something else?
Ray Bradbury: It is better to move on. Don’t worry about it. You can’t fix a thing. It’s better to do something new. I made a lot of things I’m not happy about, but I just moved on. I said to heck with that and came back to that later.
Devin Kelly: If you could only give me one piece of advice about being a writer, what would it be?
Ray Bradbury: There’s only one piece of advice to give: do what you love and love what you do.
Make sure that you write something that you love madly and when you are done, you have something. And then the next piece of writing is something you love to do. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you what not to do. They can’t be you. They can’t understand you. They can’t understand your love, so you say, I’m going to do something I love and I’m going to create something great as a result.
Devin Kelly: When I am a father what do you think your legacy will be for my son or daughter?
Ray Bradbury: (laughs) When you have a son or a daughter, they will be relatively happy because you are a genius already. You already love life and you prove it, everything you say to me, so when time comes for you to have a family, your children are going to be lucky to know you as a father because you are very open. You love life. You have good parents and you are surrounded by good teachers and you would like to pass that around. You will have a fantastic life
I think you will be very much like me because when I was your age I was behaving just like you
You’ve got a great life ahead of you. And you’ve got great children.
Devin Kelly: I like science fiction fantasy. Why do writers like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells often have scientific ideas about the future before science invents them?
Ray Bradbury: That’s because geniuses are excited by living. It’s very easy when you are excited about living to create new ideas, just like the scientists are doing, They both have the ability to do that. And they never stop and question. They just exploded, they were like volcanoes exploding all over the place. So it’s very easy to explode and create.
Devin Kelly: Do you think our leaders will have the courage to move into space in our lifetime?
Ray Bradbury: We are way behind time. Our leaders are not leading us. We should never have left the moon. We should have stayed there and prepared for Mars. Thirty years later, we are thirty years behind the times. We’ve got to go back and go to the moon again. That will take time. It will take at least fifty years to prepare the moon to go on to Mars. Because Mars is where we want to go. And so sometime between now and when you are 20 years old, you are going to see us go back to the moon and then when you are 30, maybe you will be one of those that goes on to Mars also.
Devin Kelly: I have seen the play, Illustrated Man. Did you write these stories from your real experience or from history and mythology?
Ray Bradbury: No, These things just happen to me. They don’t come from history or mythology. They come from inside me and I inspire myself. I can’t look to any rote system or mythology to write my stories. It is something that happens between my ears. Inside my head, I wake in the morning and I look and there they are and I’m going to run with those thoughts and that’s the way I am.
Devin Kelly: What is your favorite movie of all time and why?
Ray Bradbury: One of the great movies is the movie made by Steven Spielberg, Close Encounters of the Third Kind because it is a religious film. It reminds me of the Vatican ceiling in Rome where God reaches down through the universe and touches the hand of Adam and Adam reaches up the other way and touches the hand of God. So the visitors from another part of the universe arrive here on earth and look down on us and bring their chute down and visit us and we go aboard the ship and go into the universe . That’s very religious isn’t it, being visited by God and he says, come on a voyage with me. And a wonderful man like FrancoisTruffaut is in this film and he is the priest in a way of the film and he is the one who tells us to be religious to relate ourselves to the universe and he says look up there and worship. So the fact that Truffaut is the actor in the center of the film is emotionally exciting.
Devin Kelly: Movies have been made from your books. Which is your best movie and what do you think of the movie industry?
Ray Bradbury: The movie industry, I don’t like to have anything to do with them, most of the time because they are interested in money and they are not in love the way I am in love. One of the best films I’ve made is Something Wicked this Way Comes because it came close to my book. It has the wonderful carnival and the wonderful Jason Robards playing the father and the children are very much like myself. The studio veers away and always ruins the film and I take over as director and help finish it. So thank God it became a very good movie.
Devin Kelly: I heard you talk about Aldous Huxley and poetry. How did you learn to write poetry?
Ray Bradbury: laughs…You just learn every day. You just write every day. If you write every day for ten years, you become a writer. You go to the library and learn for yourself. You are in charge. You learn these things for yourself. Aldous Huxley said to me, “You know what you are?” I said “What?” “You are a poet. You are a poet. ” I did not know I was a poet . So at the center of the stories, I let those pieces of poetry in with the prose and I did not realize I was writing poetry as well as prose. So thank God, unconsciously I did that and it took Aldous Huxley to point out to me what I was doing. And thank God for his blessing.
Devin Kelly: When you write childrens’ books, do you have to think very differently from writing adult books?
Ray Bradbury: No you don’t. All my books are children’s books. I didn’t set out to write it for children, but because they are full of excitement and glory and love, children read them and say that’s my stuff. I did not know it but I wrote 30 children’s books. That’s not what it says on the label. They are just books that people buy in bookstores and adults buy them and take them home and read them and hand them to their children. And the children say I didn’t know you write children’s books. And by God, that’s what I write. Every single one, because I am still a 12 year old in here and this 12 year old writes them for you and your friends.
Devin Kelly: The media said you are legendary and very important. How influential and significant do you think you might be?
Ray Bradbury: I can’t decide that. A lot of people say I am and thank God I am. I am influential because people listen to me. I tell them to do things they love and fortunately they go and do things. So I did not realize that I was going to be influential. People trust me and ask questions. And then I tell them what to do. That’s being influential.
Devin Kelly: Why are you so passionate about your plays and reading and why is it important for children to read?
Ray Bradbury: It’s everything. If you learn to read correctly, you learn to think. If you can read and write, then you have the ability to look at the world and make up your truth about the world too.
Devin Kelly: As a professional writer, if you were paid millions of dollars to write about a different genre you may not love, would you still write it for the money or the challenge?
Ray Bradbury: You would never write for money. You mustn’t let other people choose what you want to do. You’ve got to go with what you love and ignore the money. I was many years old before I ever had any income. When I got married, I had no car. I had no telephone. I married a woman who gave up her income in order to marry me. She went to work in a job in an important company and her money supported me while I finished work on a couple of different novels. You must never think about money. You must say to yourself, what do I want to write right now, whether anyone pays me for it or not. Forget the money and do the book.
Devin Kelly: I have heard you use the word love many times. How do you apply that word to creating art?
Ray Bradbury: It’s everything. Everything in life has to be loved. You’ve got to be around friends - that you love them and they love you. Real affection that makes life easy to live. When you write things you love, it is bound to be good too.
Love is the essence of everything. And so you go to see all the movies that you love and you keep reading the books that you love and you keep reading them. Everything is the same.The activities that you do every day. If you like to swim, swim. If you like basketball, play basketball. If you prefer running, some people do, do it. Everything is love. And that’s the way you exist every single day.
Devin Kelly: The book, Fahrenheit 451 is the number one read in national schools and libraries. I’m about to read Fahrenheit 451, nearly sixty years after you wrote it. Why is this book so important?
Ray Bradbury: I learned when I was growing up, I saw Hitler in Germany burning the books in the street. I heard about the libraries in Alexandria, Egypt 5,000 years ago burning and that upset me and made me sick to my stomach. I wrote a book about burning libraries and that is Fahrenheit 451. A fantastic thing is happening right now. Some time in the next year, a translation of Fahrenheit 451 will be made in Egypt and will be revered in Alexandria. I am so excited to think of that, because 5,000 years ago, the first libraries burned in Alexandria. I am happy that libraries come back into the world with the one book Fahrenheit 451. I was fantastically happy about that.
Devin Kelly: Ray, this has been an honor to talk to you. Thank you for your time and hospitality. It was a lot of fun..
Ray Bradbury: I hope you will come back and do another interview. I wish you a long and happy life. God bless you.