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Welcome to Live Love Play and For the Love Of, a periodic interview series about everything we geek out about. In this episode I have the pleasure to talk with Huston Huddleston, founder of the Hollywood Sci Fi Museum and Hollywood Horror Museum.
My first question is about Huston’s background and experience. Growing up in Burbank California, Huston was surrounded by the Hollywood elite. His parents were active in the community and industry as musicians with work featured in everything from The Aristocats to Apocalypse Now.
In 2010 Huston worked at Paramount as the legal battle between CBS and Paramount over the rights to Star Trek was coming to a close. Many of the Star Trek related attractions were closing as a result and word spread about discarded props and set pieces. Huston found that warehouse and started scrounging. What he found surprised him. Outside the warehouse, soiled, ripped, and weathered was not only the bridge set from Star Trek The Next Generation, but also the Bridge from The Original Series!
Two moving vans, eight movers, and seven thousand dollars later both sets found a new home in Huston’s back yard. He launched The New Starship kickstarter campaign to help fund the restoration of both sets. The original plan was to open the sets to the public for tours and fan films but those ideas were discarded as he did not have a licence from CBS.
He took the set on tour to conventions across the nation to promote the restoration project and to gain interest in donating the set to a museum. But when no museum was willing to take their set once completed, why not make their own? Huston Reached out to anyone who would listen, Directors, actors, producers, anyone with a name in Sci Fi to be a part of the board of directors for a Museum dedicated to Science Fiction and its impact on our world.
I ask about the brand and the Location, Hollywood and Los Angeles are very expensive places to start a venture. Huston laughs and agrees but insists that there is no better place. The expense is high but he insists it can be done. The Museum is a non profit organization and the City of Los Angeles is willing to work with him.
I ask about what other props and set pieces he has for the Museum. So far He has collected Forbidden Planet’s Robbie the Robot, Oblivion’s bubble ship and assorted props, more props from Star Trek, and Aliens’ Power Loader.
Next I ask about some of the challenges leading up to the founding of the museum. Huston says it is easier to list the challenges he hasn’t faced. The biggest challenge he continues to face is being the public face of the Museum. While he enjoys(endures) a near celebrity status because of his work this public image also invites derision and discord. Huston laments the difficulty of working though some intense negative feedback.
The second biggest challenge is working with large companies who don’t agree with what he wants to create. Huston relates his experience with CBS over the Bridge sets.
Moving forward the biggest challenge is going to be funding. Huston and his team is currently working to obtain grants, sponsorship, and licences to secure a building at last as well as fun the touring museum. Two touring exhibits are planned, one traveling the US and the other traveling Europe. The tours feature props from Marvel, Star Wars, and the original Lost in Space.
The biggest exhibit will be the non flight prototype of the Space Shuttle, the Inspiration. It is the only shuttle that can be toured on the inside. Because it is a non-flight prototype it can be disassembled and transported by truck rather than by plane.
I ask about possible licencing next. A museum doesn’t licence its exhibits, it borrows or rents many of them from the studios. The placement and exhibit of these items is an agreement or a understanding that the IP being displayed does credit and honor to the property. However Huston does mention that the museum would feature a gift shop, what museum would be complete without one after all. He and his team is working with prop replica companies and other online outlets to feature their merchandise.
Huston teases that he is working on something big with Sony but can’t elaborate on the specifics…yet.
Huston says he feels so fortunate that he has so many brilliant people on the board of directors to help bring this idea to life. These people are the biggest names in sci fi, fantasy, and entertainment with experience reaching back decades.
If one new concept museum wasn’t enough Huston is also working on creating the Hollywood Horror Museum. Two years ago one of the more receptive studios offered assets from Sci Fi horror properties. Unfortunately these items didn’t fit the film-to-life nature of the Sci Fi museum. Instead of discarding the assets Huston and company decided to create a separate space for these assets to fit the theme.
Like the Sci Fi Museum, Huston reached out to the big names of Horror to be a part of the board. He is still surprised with their willingness to contribute despite some of the skepticism of the Sci Fi Museum peers.
Unlike the Sci Fi museum horror properties are more difficult to lump together by series or theme. Instead, the museum will be organized chronologically and separated by theme. The ground floor exhibits featuring the silent film/black and white era creature features and a more family friendly environment. A separate section will feature the modern horrors once the censors let go of the leash.
Huston says that it took a fan to come up with the concept of both museums. Studios, collectors, and some intellectuals don’t understand the kind of engagement and joy fans have when seeing and interacting with the assets he has on exhibit. He is an unashamed fan and the board members are fans(and creators). He calls out Star Trek ship artist Doug Drexler as the super-fan on the board, constantly on the lookout for new ideas and new ways to challenge thinking.
Huston also talks about two upcoming shows, one for each museum. The plan is to feature the board members, current exhibits, asset restoration, and more. Producers, directors, and writers are being arranged and more news is coming soon.
Huston takes a moment to talk about and praise the woman on the board of both museums and what they bring to the table. He goes on about the varied knowledge and experience willing and eager to assist in bringing both projects. He couldn’t get this far without the help of so many wonderful people.
Thank you for watching and reading.
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