Thursday, May 8, 2014

From "bridge restoration" to glorious teaching museum: A Kickstarter for a do-able sci-fi dream is now UP

UPDATE: Apparently, Huston has embroiled me in a $500 donor reward for the campaign: drinks and brain-dissecting. See the page.

Well! It's a big week for a little project that *I*, of all people, first revealed to the world right here back in August 2012. Without naming names!

But Huston Huddleston's project is not so little anymore. Or in cognito.

Yep, after all those "Captain, I saved the bridge!" T-shirts and celebrity support pictures at cons all over the country, comes the big news Wednesday that the non-profit "Enterprise D Bridge Restoration Project" -turned-"New Starship" has zoomed in scope to now become the Hollywood Sci-Fi Museum project—still headed by Huston but with an army of fan volunteers, both white-collar and red-shirted.

The big splash announcement kicks off an $83,500 Kickstarter crowd-funding drive to fund the groundwork of the initial preview site in Hollywood by 2015 and the build to a permanent, custom museum circa 2018. There's donor levels from $1 to $4500...
and it's already got a healthy start. I hope you all can join in and give what you can—and as a board member honored to be asked to serve, I'll give my thanks up front.

Yes, that's right: I'm on the board for this, among a few other peeps you might have heard of before. I vetted this every step of the way or else I wouldn't be involved. So I know a lot of you are thinking, "Hey wait a minute—restoring and housing the Enterprise-D bridge is one thing... but ain't this a bit grandiose? Smells like 'too much, too fast, too overblown' to be real." Or even: "Hey—you're coming back around for more money?"

And these are just the showy parts ...
Fact is, as Huston found out the past two years of hitting up corporate and other big would-be donors, the first concept was too SMALL, in their eyes. That's why the scope and the focus have gone beyond the bridge—and even Trek itself. And even that left a few early supporters skeptical.

"The money guys simply didn't care JUST about the D bridge," Huston told me today. "Some Trek fans don't seem to grasp that not everyone cares about a used set that was from a tour, and from a show that ended 20 years ago."

Be clear: the first "New Starship" Kickstarter  in 2012 funded some of the early planning, so as to get invited to a ton of conventions to spread the world, enchant mainstream media, grab fan goodwill with free photo ops, mushroom the social media, and park a lot of celebrity butts in the captain's chair.

That 2012 total would barely fund a bridge wedding and party center, though... much less the real teaching tool that the touch-screen computers and simulators can be for school trips in science, history, math—in fact, the whole STEM teaching model to jump-start our national education and workforce needs. And the art and crafts of cinema storytelling as well. So what cooler place for dispensing real science and fictionizing than the icons of science fiction everyone is already in love with?

But really ... not just Trek, but ALL these studios and franchises? Doesn't that just multiply the cost and legal hassles even more? How is this even conceivable? It's a Vizzini moment if ever there was one, right?

Au contraire, says Huston: "The secret is, it's not-for-profit and educational. That's the only way this is going to work. Despite how nervous the studio lawyers are going to get, all the actors, directors, producers and writers and certainly fans all want this to happen."

Add to that a lot of museum professionals, management experts, legal and CPAs... closet fans, too: they've done a lot of "sweat equity" to put together a pretty impressive batch of business, marketing, finance, sustained operations, education outreach .... well, binders full of plans.
Grant's "Hall of Robots" welcome video
Plus, my Star Trek Continues "Sulu" buddy Grant Imahara is only the first celeb to shoot an exhibit video for the project—his, natch, on the Hall of Robots.

Which is all one other way I know this is more than just one fanboy's pipedream. All these closet fans—and not-so-closet fans—have already invested thousands of bucks of consulting hours to help get this launched.

"This just seems like the right thing at the right time, " Huston says.

Even Paul Allen's vaunted EMP sci-fi and rock museum in Seattle, mentioned breifly in the Kickstarter video, has had contact with the "Hollywood Sci-Fi Museum" and sees a relationship, not a competition. "They are totally supportive of our concept and amazing people, " Huston says, after a trip to meet with their staff and compare notes. "They just don't do what we're going to be doing," referring to the hands-on student simulators and education access. "It's two totally different concepts."

There's really nothing like this as a teaching/entertainment sci-fi mecca, especially in "media capital" L.A./Hollywood, and there's a lot of interest in both the jobs, and the tourism the attached hotel/center for a private owner. And then the green-energy/sustainability goals for the eventual all-new building.

A lot of hard work, money and long hours are still to go on this thing. But it is out there with enough planning, vision, and phased-in conception to attract a lot of the real folks who make real things go. Too big to dream? Too big to work? Right now, it's what it needs to be. I'm excited to be a part of it, since way back at the birth ... and can't wait to see what all these excited pro-fans can launch together. Starting—again—right now.

And this is just one of TWO wonderful, non-profit, Trek-related projects I'm going to be involved with as a board member and proud backer. Stay tuned ...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mr. Nemecek, I have been a huge fan of your work for many years now, but sadly I feel that your endorsement of this project is misguided. As an original supporter of the Enterprise Bridge Restoration project, we have seen all of money vanish. When I and others asked (reasonably) where all of our money went on the project Facebook page, we were each in turn banned from the page and our questions deleted. Huston went on to say that the posts were deleted for being abusive - they were not - simply inquiring what had happened to our funds. You may wonder why I am posting anonymously? I have had to set up a new temporary email address so that I can at least see what is happening on the project I donated to and I suspect if my email was public that account too would be banned. This is the way Mr. Huddleston operates. His auto-banning of any supporter who does not toe the line makes me (and many others) very concerned about this venture. After my personal experience I would warn others to steer well clear of this. I think it might end up doing terrible damage to the Star Trek brand and fan base.

I haven't even touched upon the staggering Intellectual Property abuse that is going on in his latest video. As I understand it, being a Not-For_Profit organisation does not absolve people from adhering to trademark and copyright law. Otherwise every church up and down the country would be filling their coffers by selling knock of Star Wars toys.