Seeking lost 1970 Star Trek short film

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by ZeroG, Oct 20, 2017.

  1. ZeroG

    ZeroG Ensign Newbie

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    New member here. I am trying to locate a film I saw around 1970.

    First, some background. I began working at the NASA Lewis Research Center in December 1964, coincidentally the same time the pilot was filmed. I started as a technician right out of high school and later got my engineering degree. In the 1990s I was the Facility Manager for the Zero Gravity Facility. Our branch, the Microgravity Branch, also managed the “vomit comet” when it was based in Cleveland.

    Back in my technician days, we would have a safety meeting every month or two. During many of these meetings a “safety film” would be shown, covering a wide range of topics. Some were job specific like fuel handling, but they could be about nearly anything. They were short, 10 to 15 minutes. I am trying to locate one such film I saw in the late 1960s or early 70s.

    This film was based on the original Star Trek series. It featured William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy as Captain Kirk and Spock. They were in uniform as the two Star Fleet officers. The subject of the film was safety hazards in the home. In the film the Enterprise travels back in time and Kirk and Spock beam down to 1969 Earth and visit an American town, strangely deserted. As they walk down the street and through an empty home, they encounter objects (ordinary to us) they do not recognize. These seem to be hazards and they wonder about the purpose of the objects and try to avoid any “traps”.

    I can vividly remember seeing the film. I can describe scenes and quote dialogue. In my favorite scene they came across the freshly washed dishes in the kitchen including a bunch of knives and forks sticking up in the drainer. Kirk warily approaches and asks, “Spock, what do you …make of this?” Spock answers, “I don’t know Captain, perhaps some sort of a trap for small animals.”

    I have searched high and low for a mention of this film to no avail. I have read several of Shatner’s autobiographies to see if there was some mention. “Star Trek Memories” from 1993 gives a detailed look inside the production of the original series, sometimes minute by minute. From reading that memoir I doubt the film was made by Desilu or Paramount, who owned the rights to the TV show. But it must have been produced with Gene Rodenberry’s permission if not his outright involvement.

    I feel it must have been filmed right after the show went off the air in 1969. I remember the building it was shown in and it was a building I would have gone to for a safety meeting during the late 1960s – early 1970s.

    Oddly enough, Shatner made another safety film in 1995 about hazards in the home and this one shows up on Internet searches. But it is just Shatner in a suit narrating from a desk.

    I recently contacted the archivist at Lewis (now Glenn Research Center) and he has searched all of his archives and talked to the curator at NASA headquarters and nothing has shown up. This suggests it was most likely a private film, not commissioned by NASA. I have checked the National Archives, which does has some safety films. The market for such films must have been small, although perhaps one on home safety might have been shown in schools.

    So I am turning to this group. Is this film known to Trek enthusiasts or is it indeed lost? I’m looking for any help you can come up with. If it is indeed a lost film, perhaps contacting William Shatner might jog his memory and provide a clue, is it possible to contact him?
    Dennis
     
  2. Kor

    Kor Admiral Admiral

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    It must have been lost to history.

    Kor
     
  3. UssGlenn

    UssGlenn Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    You can tweet at Shatner on twitter, he might see it. If he remembers doing it that will at least confirm its existence.
     
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  4. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Goo goo goo joob Moderator

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    I'm moving this to the TOS forum, where you're more likely to get the attention of our scholars of TOS-era production lore.
     
  5. Spock's Barber

    Spock's Barber Commodore Commodore

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    Maybe not. From deep in the video archives comes.....

     
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  6. Kor

    Kor Admiral Admiral

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    That's creepy. :eek:

    Kor
     
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  7. Flyer00Jay

    Flyer00Jay Ensign Red Shirt

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    You learn something new everyday...
     
  8. Spock's Barber

    Spock's Barber Commodore Commodore

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    A lot of spooky things happen on this forum around Halloween. :wtf:
     
  9. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Commodore Commodore

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    I'm going to ask that if you end up finding this film by other means, get back to us here because we'll want to know too.

    I want a different kind of lost production, even more obscure. In the early 1970s, my father was the chief radio technician for a public utility company. Motorola was introducing a new two-way car radio system called Micor, and their promotional kit included a cassette tape that the salesman gave my Dad, who gave it to me as a rabid Star Trek fan.

    It was basically a "radio show" knock-off of Star Trek, with different voice actors and no names involved. But the sound effects were spot-on, and it opened with a Scottish man saying, "You'd better come up to the bridge, Sir. Somethin' strange is happening!" And it went on from there as this whole voice-acted story about the ship's officers encountering Motorola's Micor communication system and marveling at how advanced it was.

    I listened to it many times as a kid, until one day my cassette player ate the tape. I'd sure like to find an audio file of that, but I think it's likely gone forever.

    The OP's home safety film is clearly more important now that I know about it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2017
  10. ZeroG

    ZeroG Ensign Newbie

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    Absolutely. The reason I want to find it is to bring it to the fans so everyone can enjoy it.

    Dennis
     
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  11. johnnybear

    johnnybear Commodore Commodore

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    Doesn't seem right or possible if Paramount or CBS weren't behind it somehow...
    JB
     
  12. ZeroG

    ZeroG Ensign Newbie

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    That was my original thought. But I don't fully understand who would have owned the rights to an independent film. Paramount certainly owned the television series. But Rodenberry was selling memorabilia on his own at that point, including blooper films (according to Shatner in "Star Trek Memories"). Who owned the "concept", Paramount or Rodenberry? The film did not use any of the TV sets, just the actors and costumes, since it took place in some small town, presumably an LA suburb. Would a large company have made such a short film? Perhaps it was a public service endeavor.

    If Paramount was involved, then there is hope that it is archived somewhere. The history of the company up to the present time is fairly complex:

    http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Star_Trek_corporate_history

    I wonder if there has been continuity through the years for tracking something like this?

    Dennis
     
  13. CRM-114

    CRM-114 Commander Red Shirt

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    Have you tried reaching out to anyone who privately archives or collects industrial/safety films? Doing a cursory Google search doesn’t bring up anything; this thread is the top item on the search page.
     
  14. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Commodore Commodore

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    Here's what I think: In 1970, nobody at Paramount had realized yet that Star Trek would have any real value. It didn't even have 100 episodes to make long-term syndication likely.

    Paramount (not CBS in those days) wasn't enforcing its rights yet. Gene Roddenberry was getting away with a lot: he literally drove up to the studio vault with a truck and stole the show's 35mm work-prints, and started selling them as cut up frames. He was probably behind the theft of the show's music tapes. Paramount did nothing. [The tapes were later sold to a private collector, who eventually licensed them from Paramount for legal CD releases.]

    As late as 1975, Franz Joseph got a very sweet deal in the permission he was granted to sell the Blueprints and Technical Manual. Paramount didn't care about Star Trek rights until they saw FJ making a fortune, and then they started protecting their property.

    Sorry to be so long-winded, but the point is, a privately circulated safety film riffing on Star Trek would go entirely unnoticed and unpoliced in 1970. My guess is that Shatner wanted to do it because he was broke and trying to pay the ruinous alimony settlement based on a Star Trek income he no longer had. He needed literally any paycheck he could get.

    Nimoy (still doing fine financially) might have done it as a favor to Shatner, if the filmmaker said both guys or no deal. I can see them also calling William Ware Theiss and asking to borrow costumes from storage. And Nimoy would have needed Fred Phillips for the Vulcan makeup; that trouble, to say nothing of the Spock haircut, makes it surprising Spock was in the film, unless it was made in early 1969 at the latest. His hair was too long after that, and he wasn't about to shave his eyebrows again.

    20th Century Fox allowed this Batman PSA in 1974, with Dick Gautier filling in for Adam West:


    According to Yvonne Craig, she was happy to do the spot, but Fox did not have an undamaged Batgirl costume to lend out. So Burt Ward offered to lend the costume to her! And he made sure to get it back when the PSA wrapped. :lol: I mean, that's one souvenir you don't part with.
     
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  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The question of rights applies to the concept and characters the film is based on. After all, the term refers to the right to use those concepts and characters in a film, book, or other work. You can't even make the film if you don't first have the rights to the property, or at least a license from the rights holders. (Fan film makers are tolerated so long as they do it only for recreation and not for profit.) If it were an instructional/educational film, the copyright owners might be inclined to allow the use of their characters, but they'd have to be asked for permission first.


    If we're talking 1970, it would've probably been Roddenberry (or technically his production company, Norway Productions). The animated series 3 years later was copyrighted by Filmation Associates and Norway, not by Paramount. I believe it was sometime between then and TMP that Roddenberry sold the rights to the property to Paramount.

    Still, I think that some of the memorabilia sales Roddenberry made through Lincoln Enterprises were not quite legally appropriate, e.g. selling copies of scripts without paying royalties to their writers.
     
  16. alensatemybuick1

    alensatemybuick1 Commander Red Shirt

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    Perhaps related, or maybe not, does anyone recall a short film called "Space: What's in it for Me" (or similar title)with Nichelle Nicolls from the mid 70s where she played Uhura and espoused the benefits of Space Exploration)? I seem to recall seeing it at the Kennedy Space Center or maybe at NASM when I was around 10 or 11 (I was born in 1966).

    I've seen mention of this film here and there, but never any clips from it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2017
  17. mos6507

    mos6507 Commodore Commodore

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    I just think the 70s were a time when trademark/copyright was more loosely handled, especially where the application was educational or a PSA. It was also the golden age of PSAs like this one that was in heavy rotation. Probably the most memorable "trademarked" PSA of all time.

     
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  18. Daddy Todd

    Daddy Todd Fleet Captain Premium Member

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    In plain, non-Vulcan English, “illegal.”

    :biggrin:
     
  19. ZeroG

    ZeroG Ensign Newbie

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    Thanks, ZapBrannigan and Christopher for the insight into the ownership of the concept. So a small private film under the radar would be, well, logical.. Whatever way you think of it, Gene had to have been involved. I knew about Shatner's need for money so it was never surprising he did a quick film for a paycheck. This film was probably shot in a day at someone's house that Roddenberry knew. The information on Nimoy's hair and makeup is quite interesting.

    Does the Roddenberry family still own his interests?

    Dennis
     
  20. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Commodore Commodore

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    GR's heir Eugene Roddenberry currently gets an executive producer credit on STD, and I suspect that's because he's a part-owner of ST. The screen credit is part of his compensation for allowing the show to be made, or at least not fighting it in court.