The Journey To Ray Bradbury

Rodion Nahapetov had been a successful actor in Russian films since age 17. In his mid twenties he decided to expand his artistic studies and become a film director.

At the age of 26, Rodion completed his training at the prestigious Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) in Moscow. His first assignment at the institute was to make a short student film. He chose his favorite author (Ray Bradbury) and his favorite Ray Bradbury novel, “Dandelion Wine.”

Rodion’s love for the magical world of Ray Bradbury began in the late ‘60s when Bradbury’s stories began appearing on the shelves of Russian bookstores and libraries.

His exquisitely sensitive writing in “Dandelion Wine” captivated Rodion. One of his favorite characters in the novel was Helen Bentley.

Rodion decided to create a 25-minute film using Helen’s character as a metaphor about youth and old age. He set the film to music and the result was an endearing message that all ages can relate to. This touching, short film showcased Rodion’s creative talents and launched his career as a film director.

Rodion remained a devoted reader of Bradbury’s works and kept up with the events of his life in Los Angeles. In many ways Rodion learned about America through Ray’s stories. It was Rodion’s dream to meet Ray Bradbury in person.

Onward To America

Rodion and Ray BradburyIn 1988, Rodion traveled to Los Angeles to promote his Twentieth Century Fox film, “At The Close of Night.” This was the beginning of Rodion’s new life in America…

In 2003 Rodion was excited to hear Ray Bradbury would be doing a book signing at the Barnes and Noble Bookstore in Los Angeles. After many years this would be a chance to meet his favorite writer.

A large crowd was waiting to meet Ray Bradbury at the bookstore. After standing in line for over an hour, Rodion approached Ray with nervous excitement. Natasha Shliapnikoff (Rodion’s wife and business partner) was standing by with her camera to capture the historic moment.

The two men met and spoke about Russia and Ray’s love for the Russian people. Ray spoke of drinking vodka with his friend, renowned director, Sergei Bandarchuk. Rodion was inspired and deeply grateful that his dream of meeting Ray Bradbury had come true.

Fate Steps In

In 2005 Rodion and Natasha were asked to set up an interview with Ray Bradbury for a Russian television show. The day of the interview they headed to Ray’s home in Los Angeles. Little did they know that this would be the start of a loving friendship among Ray, Rodion and Natasha.

Ray's autograph for Natasha and Rodion
Ray's autograph for Natasha and Rodion.

In 2008 Rodion was called to Moscow on business. Natasha had remained in Los Angeles and was visiting with Ray at his home. She showed him Rodion’s student film of “Dandelion Wine.” Although the film was in Russian, Ray understood everything. By the end of the movie he had tears in his eyes. He said, “Call your husband, and tell him that I love him! I want him to write the full script for “Dandelion Wine” because he understands the novel – and he understands me.”

Rodion was shocked that Natasha had shown his student film to Ray Bradbury. However, he was pleasantly surprised that Ray had loved it.

At first, Rodion wasn’t that confident he could write a full film script for the novel “Dandelion Wine.” But Ray continued to encourage him along the way. He kept asking Rodion, “When will the script be finished?” Rodion wrote the first draft but Ray felt it could be better. After months of rewriting, Rodion printed out the second draft.

Rodion and Natasha handed the script to Ray on their weekly visit. A few days later, Natasha received a call from Ray. He said, “Please kiss your husband for me and tell him that I love the script.”

Now, Rodion and Natasha hold a beautiful screenplay blessed by Ray Bradbury. Their goal is for “Dandelion Wine” to come alive on the screen in theaters throughout the world. Their hope is that young and old alike will experience this delightful, insightful and beautiful masterpiece.

The two artists lived half a world apart but Rodion always felt connected to the underlying love found within Ray Bradbury’s writing. It appears they were destined to meet and this project was meant to be.

On the 5th day of June, of the year 2012, one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, and our closest and dearest friend, Ray Bradbury, completed his mission here on earth.

What is the next destination for Ray’s enlightened soul? Is it Mars or, perhaps, Alpha Centauri?

Ray was a dreamer and a seer whose gaze was always turned upward toward other galaxies, possibilities and dimensions. But Ray himself, as a person, undoubtedly, belonged to the people. He was a kind, energetic and social man — consistently gifting those around him with unconditional love.

Ray would often say: “After I die, I would love my books to be found on library shelves, alongside Jules Verne, Herbert Wells, Edgar Allen Poe… in this I see the continuation of my own life.”

Ray Bradbury is recognized as an unsurpassed master of storytelling.

“The Martian Chronicles,” “Fahrenheit 451,” “Dandelion Wine,” “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” have long been considered classics.

Many countries have included Ray Bradbury’s books in their school curriculum as required reading.

“Dandelion Wine” held a very special meaning and place in Ray’s heart. For many years, Ray dreamed about his novel being made into a film.

Three years ago, after seeing a short film based on “Dandelion Wine,” directed by Russian film director Rodion Nahapetov in 1971, Ray entrusted Rodion with writing the screenplay based upon his novel.

Rodion wrote the screenplay, which was warmly and enthusiastically accepted and blessed by Ray Bradbury.

If there ever was a project based on love, “Dandelion Wine” is the one.

“Ray, we salute you and look forward to honoring your legacy with this film.”