CLEARWATER — When someone showed him an article about a retired letter carrier in Greece who set a Guinness World Record for his collection of 937 movie cameras and projectors, Richard "Hyker" LaRiviere knew he could trump that.
This weekend, he takes up the challenge with a temporary exhibit of movie cameras and — just for fun — dozens of movie props and paraphernalia.
"According to Guinness, he (Dimitris Pistiolas) only has 600 cameras, the rest are projectors," said LaRiviere, 64. "If I have 601, I have the world record.
"I brought about 900 with me."
The collection was to be counted and certified Friday night. The results will then be sent off to Guinness.
In the meantime, film and camera fans are invited to view the array of movie cameras that have been used by everyone from NASA engineers and Hollywood filmmakers to Mom and Pop.
Props come from movies like Cleopatra, The Rocketeer and Gangs of New York.
The temporary "museum" is at 709 S Missouri Ave. in Clearwater, an empty rental space slated to become the home of the new Beaux Arts.
Doors open from 6 p.m. until midnight today and from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. A film marathon will feature more than 50 short movies shot in the Tampa Bay over the years — and feel free to bring your own flick.
A $10 donation is requested to benefit LaRiviere's Museum of Motion Pictures and Television Inc.
The former New England developer and businessman, who now lives in Land O'Lakes, is making plans for a museum large enough to house 35,000 movie artifacts, including a collection of more than 1,000 movie cameras. But for now, his nonprofit is homeless.
He has been talking with city officials all over Tampa Bay looking for enough space to properly display the collection he's been amassing since he received his first Super 8 camera at age 15.
"So far nothing acceptable has been found," he said.
He envisions large interactive displays where visitors can learn about "green scenes" or how music tracks are added to film.
"We'd be able to demonstrate all aspects of filmmaking," he said.
While he's searching, visitors can get a sneak preview.
The oldest movie camera in the exhibit is a 1907 Darling with a hand crank.
"Over 100 years old and it still works perfectly," he said.
Remember the 1963 movie Cleopatra with Elizabeth "violet eyes" Taylor?
A sedan chair used for carting "Egyptian" actors through desert sets can be seen along with two Egyptian statue props.
The gold helmet from The Rocketeer (1991) and a large tiger skull from a 1932 Tarzan movie are under Plexiglas.
Vintage cameras like those made by Kodak and Bell and Howell will likely stir some memories of family vacations and holiday fun.
"Part of the fun of collecting these things," LaRiviere said, "is doing the research and seeing what you can learn."
Reach Terri Bryce Reeves at [email protected]