Saturday, January 23, 2010

Inspired by Ray?

If you look on YouTube or any of the other places where amateur film-makers can upload their work, you will find an enormous number of works inspired by or derived from Ray Bradbury's creations. It's nothing new: generations of schoolkids have created their own versions or variations of Bradbury's stories, it's just that it is now easier than ever to put these works into a public forum.

In the past, Bradbury has been asked whether it's permissible for amateurs to make films of his works. His reply has usually been along the lines of "it's okay to make a film, as you long as you don't do anything with it" - by which he means, feel free to flex your film-making muscles, but don't publish unless you've paid for publication rights to the underlying material.

Often the amateur works we find on the web are things made by students as coursework. These are often direct re-presentations of Bradbury's material, as in this piece found on Vimeo, which is essentially a reading of "Kaleidoscope" with added music and visuals.

Ray Bradbury's Kaleidoscope Abridged: Narration for BECA 230 and 231 from Geoff Norman on Vimeo.

The creator of the above, Geoff Norman, gives credit to Bradbury for the story and (on the original Vimeo page) gives an explanation of what we are watching and how it came about.

Another type of work often found is something which takes Bradbury's ideas as a springboard and either uses them as the basis of a new creation, or as a reference point for an homage. An example in this category is the short animation Between the Lines, found on Aniboom. It seems to be the work of a small team of people, and does not directly acknowledge Bradbury's work. However, it uses the same premise as Fahrenheit 451 and has a lead character named "Ray".

Monday, January 18, 2010

Film history - on the radio

From Brian Sibley comes news of an old but new radio series.

Old: it's from 1999. New: it's been revised and newly updated.

Starting on Tuesday 19th January at 10.30pm GMT on BBC Radio 2, David Puttnam's Century of Cinema is Lord Puttnam's and Brian's major series to mark one hundred years of cinema. I can't believe it's ten years since this was first broadcast - it seems like yesterday.

Some of the contributors/interviewees in the original programmes are now no longer with us, so we are fortunate that their testimony was captured while they were still around. The series will, apparently, bring us right up to date with new material to cover the last ten years.

The BBC information on the programme is here, and with any luck the shows will be available on the BBC iPlayer after broadcast. (Note for non-UK listeners: iPlayer audio content is available throughout the world!)

What has this to do with Ray Bradbury? Click on the Sibley tag below to find out about Brian's Bradbury connections!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

"I am Herman Melville"

The US radio show and podcast Studio 360 recently ran an interview with Ray Bradbury in which he discusses his writing of the screenplay for Moby Dick. It's a tale Bradbury has told countless times, but this version - despite originating as something as simple as a phone interview - is Bradbury at his performative best. It's neatly packaged together with audio clips from the film's soundtrack. Listen to it here.

Kip Voytek's blog kip/bot/blog refers to this interview as an example of the importance of immersing yourself in something if you wish to become the master of it. Bradbury famously woke up one day and decided, "I am Herman Melville"; following which he was able to briskly complete the screenplay which he had been struggling with for many weeks. Read Voytek's article here.

My page about the making of Moby Dick is here, and I have other pages related to the film and screenplay here.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Free Pulps Online

Thanks to a tip-off on the excellent Marooned: Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror books on Mars blog, I have been viewing some complete issues of old science fiction pulps magazines on the Internet Archive. These are magazines which have (allegedly) gone into the public domain due to non-renewal of US copyright in the past.

Of the magazines currently online (put there by one Gerard Arhus), there are two which contain Bradbury stories. Planet Stories volume 4 number 6 (spring 1950) contains the first publication of Ray Bradbury's story "Forever and the Earth". Planet Stories volume 4 number 8 (fall 1950) contains Bradbury's "Death Wish", perhaps better known under the variant title "Blue Bottle".

The full list of pulps uploaded by Arhus can be found here. My top tip is to use the "read online" option, as this is quicker than waiting for the PDF versions to download.

It's quite fascinating to see these stories in their original context. In a sense, it's an "accidental" context: Bradbury didn't write these stories to order, and didn't write them for this particular magazine; instead, he would write his stories for himself and then send them out to a range of publications. But it's worth bearing in mind that the garish covers and hokey stories by other writers that surrounded his stories were part of what created the label of "Ray Bradbury is a science fiction writer", a label which he fought many years to shake off. And a fight which continues today!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Winter Warmers

Over on the Bradbury message board, regular poster Doug Spaulding just drew my attention to this hilarious news story that puts a whole new spin on book-burning, Fahrenheit 451 style!

I can only think the old folks in question took inspiration from the ending of Truffaut's film version...

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Writers' Encounters

Vincent Eaton has written of an early-career encounter with Ray Bradbury. The encounter itself doesn't sound too inspiring, but what Bradbury said seems to have stuck with him. Read all about it on Vincent's blog.

Screenwriting guru Lew Hunter mentions an encounter with Bradbury at a screening of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It's in this PDF document from Hunter's website.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Believe it or not

I bring you this item out of a devotion to completeness, and as a public service. If you are easily offended, look away now!

Ray Bradbury has certainly influenced people in a wide range of different art forms. They don't come more different than this: "ManWhoreDickPig" by a... [coughs] music artiste calling himself Ray Bradbury. Not for the fainthearted, either in its unique musical styling nor in its lyricism. Although I defy anyone to make out the lyrics without use of the "lyrics" tab.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Green Town

I'm always amused to see bits from my website turn up elsewhere. The image on the left is a scan I took, but which has found its way onto other websites. So I have borrowed it back and reposted it here! (I can tell it's my scan by the spine/cover damage, in case you were wondering.)

I found the image attached to a perceptive review of Dandelion Wine on the 50 Books Project blog.

Speaking of Green Town... When I visited Waukegan in 2009, I didn't find time to locate the Green Town Tavern, a hostelry named after Bradbury's fictionalised version of Waukegan. Well, now I can experience it vicariously, thanks to this article in the Lake County News-Sun.

Friday, January 01, 2010

New Year, New Stuff

I haven't seen James Cameron's Avatar, and nor do I know much about it - or have much interest in it, for that matter. However, I have seen a few blogs where Cameron's inspirations are catalogued, including this one which sees a link with a couple of X Minus One radio shows, including Bradbury's "And The Moon Be Still As Bright".

Thanks to another blog, Chasing Ray, I have been alerted to a new graphic novel by Brian Fies called Whatever Happened To The World Of Tomorrow. It's full of iconography familiar from World's Fairs of the early twentieth century - the kind of Fairs that inspired the young Ray Bradbury. There is a detailed review of the book, with lots of images, on Forbidden Planet's site. Brian Fies is a blogger himself - you can find him here.

Bradbury's own recent connection to graphic novels, Tim Hamilton's adaptation of Fahrenheit 451, gets a mention in "New Books from Old" from Publisher's Weekly.