A Letter To All Hunched & Goofy Professionals...
Steve Leiva and Ray Bradbury observe animator Grim Natwick sketching at an ASIFA event on 1977. This is where Steve first met Ray.
Five Questions (plus 2) for Steve Leiva
1. How do you know Ray Bradbury?
I first met Ray at an ASIFA Cel Sale. We spent some great time chatting while watching the great Fleischer and Disney animator Grim Natwick, who first designed Betty Boop, do drawings for the crowd.
Later I saw him several times while working with Chuck Jones, including a fun birthday lunch for Chuck at Simply Blues, the restaurant at the top of the Sunset-Vine Towers where Chuck had his studio. It was a very intoxicating lunch!
I worked with Ray on Nemo, a Japanese-American co-production of an animated film based on Winsor McKay's Little Nemo in Slumberland. Ray had been hired by producer Gary Kurtz (who I worked for as an associate producer) to write the screenplay. Ray has often told me that the year he spent in development with the Japanese and American crew I put together (including Roger Allers, who went on to co-direct The Lion King) was one of the happiest times of his life. Later we would see each other at signings and literary events.
Then in 2002, he was kind enough to read the Ms of my first published novel, Blood is Pretty, and give me a great cover blub for it. Since then we've keep in touch a lot, and I recently produced a short video of him for the Buffalo International Film Festival. The video is now on YouTube, and has just past 1900 views.
2. What was the genesis of Ray Bradbury Week?
Last July I wrote an essay on Ray that was posted by Geoff Boucher on his Hero Complex blog at LATimes.com, Searching for Ray Bradbury. I sent the link to Heather Repenning, Senior Advisor to Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti, both of whom I had met when I had been asked to address the City Council during the Writers Guild strike. I included a note asking if it might not be a good idea for the city to recognize Ray’s 90th birthday on August 22, 2010. She wrote back immediately and said that yes, indeed, she did think it was a good idea. We agreed to meet on this after the first of the year.
We met in February and discussed several ideas, one obvious one being the City Council recognizing Ray’s birthday by a resolution. Now these are usually in the form of declaring So-and-So Day in Los Angeles. I told Heather that Ray was too big, too important a writer, and too much a lover of Los Angeles for just one day. So, they gave me RAY BRADBURY WEEK.
3. What is planned for Ray Bradbury Week?
After the City Council passes the resolution declaring August 22-28 RAY BRADBURY WEEK on August 20th, there will be a reception in the Tom Bradley Room at the City Hall sponsored by the Writers Guild of America, west, and co-sponsored by Council President Eric Garcetti. It looks like we will have a screening of The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit at the Los Angeles Central Library followed by an Ice Cream Social on August 26. . I will be directing Ray's one-act play, The Better Part of Wisdom, at the Writers Guild as part of the Seasoned Readings program on August 23. A few other things are being discussed, but nothing is locked yet. And, of course, I am calling on all animation professionals to contribute to RAY BRADBURY: THE ILLUSTRATED MAN.
The Writers Guild is paying for the City Hall reception, and the Central Library is hosting the screening and providing some staff. If other cost come up, I'll be looking for sponsors.
4. How are you organizing this?
It's just me stirring pots, calling people, suggesting ideas for events to organizations. I am doing everything with Ray's knowledge and approval, working with his daughter, Alexandra. But other than that, Ray is not involved in any of the details. He has spent his life and career sending out love -- love of life, love of books, love of movies and animation. His only job for RAY BRADBURY WEEK is to receive the love I hope the week sends his way.
5. You have a Facebook page for this event. Has that had any unforeseen impact on the scope of this?
Nothing unforeseen -- or seen for that matter. Just a place for me to update people and share the experience. People have joined from all over the world. I believe Ray's home town, Waukegan, Ill. -- the model for his "Green Town" - is doing something.
+1. Is the film industry getting involved beyond what you are doing?
Nope -- but then it's the film industry - although, the very wonderful Howard Green of Disney is arranging screening rights for The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit.
+2. Do you think this could lead to a new career path for you, or is this a one-time thing?
Oh, no -- it is a one-and-only-time thing. Just like Ray Bradbury is a one and only individual, author, and man!
Photos in this article are the property of Steven Paul Leiva.
|c. Moore Studios, 2010|