Recreating Hollywood in Nebraska
Sometimes you meet people who have a lot of imagination and the drive to make something out of those dreams.
That's what Bill Hedges did.
Siouxland News Anchor Jacob Heller got to take a tour of Bill's dream turned into a science-fiction-movie-loving reality: Cosmic Films Studio.
Bill Hedges is a man who loves science fiction.
"This is a hidden, pivoting door," said Hedges, moving a pivoting door on an ancient ruins-themed movie set.
You've got to love science fiction when you work someplace like this.
"I've got the mummy in the back here," said Hedges.
Okay, so Bill Hedges doesn't technically have a job, he's retired.
But he does spend a lot of time in ancient ruins, or on another planet, or inside a homemade space ship.
"This is the airlock for it, and the door slides open and shut like the original," said Hedges, pulling shut an airlock door on a homemade spaceship.
These different scenes leap from imagination into reality at Bill's movie studio in Lyons, Nebraska.
A lot of it, like the ship and the landscape, is set up in honor of his favorite show: "Lost in Space."
His sister-in-law helped him paint the backgrounds, which are based off the show, too.
Bill's even got proof of how accurately those walls were recreated.
"This has the same hills as on the set there, and see this just has a cyclorama that went around it," said Hedges, pointing to a picture taken on the set of "Lost in Space."
But where did the sets and the props come from?
Bill built them, himself. It's something he learned to do as a kid.
"If you wanted something, you just had to make it yourself," said Hedges, holding his first prop. He build a phaser from "Star Trek."
"When I was a teenager, you know, probably (19)67 or (19)68," said Hedges.
Bill built the phaser right around the same time he got his dream job.
When he was 13 he got a job as a projectionist in his local theater.
"I did it so many times I could probably thread it with my eyes closed," said Hedges, patting an old movie projector he used as a kid.
That local theater was inside the same building that now houses Bill's movie studio.
The main studio floor used to be where folks would sit and watch movies.
"This works out pretty good as a studio because it's nice and big and has a high ceiling," said Hedges.
The theater closed in 1985.
Bill bought the building three years ago, but there was a time when he didn't know if he'd ever get a chance to get back there.
That's why he started building at home.
"I got the copy of the blueprints," said Hedges.
That's right; he bought some of the original theater when it closed. It's pretty much set up again in his basement.
"I sloped the floor the same pitch as the original theater, too," said Hedges.
And when you go around the corner in his basement, you step into another set.
Another faithful reproduction of "Lost in Space."
Bill has built the inside of a space ship from that show in his basement. It's complete with all the bells and whistles.
But what is Bill going to do with all of this? His basement? His studio?
"It's just something fun, something fun for me to do in my retirement," said Hedges. "Something I've always wanted to do, I just never had the opportunity to do it before."
And these days he's still building.
"Hopefully it'll look like my other cat when I'm done," said Hedges, playing with a robotic cat on a work bench in his basement.
Eventually that "robo-cat" will be a stand-in for the real thing.
His cat Charlie will be a star when Bill starts filming "Cosmic Cat" this winter.
"If you use a cat in a movie, on YouTube, you're automatically guaranteed a big audience anyway," said Hedges.
After all, there's a cat in the Cosmic Films Studio" logo for a reason.
This story was reported by Jacob Heller. You can contact him via email here: firstname.lastname@example.org.