Film Clip Fandom

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In the media fandom world, "film clips" has been used to describe both the physical as well as the digital clips from TV and film media.

Film clip collecting was very popular in the Star Trek fandom as well as many other television and movies. While it had a science fiction-focus, fans collected clips from all sorts of movies and shows.

Early Star Trek Film Clips and Star Trek Fandom

loose film clips
35mm film clip mounted as a slide
closeup of a mounted film clip
a film clip with a "clapper" (a card indicating the scene and take number). Clapper film clips were prized because they could offer clues as to the name and title of the episode

In Star Trek fandom, the use of 35mm film clips played a significant role in both promoting and celebrating the TV show. They assisted fans with photo references, and later helped provide the foundation for a new art fan - fan vids.

During the production of the Star Trek TV series in the late 1960s, unused 35mm film was the by-product of filming and editing the show for TV broadcasts. The individual "frames" would either be mounted as slides that could be shown on a screen with a projector or loosely assembled in binders or rolls.

A 1978 description by a Star Trek fan:

Movie film clips are more common than TV film clips, due to accessibility. Most movie clips come from coming attraction previews ('trailers' and 'teasers'), which are occasionally bought and sold by film collectors. It takes hours to cut up a trailer to make film clip packets or to mount as slides; when you buy a packet of film clips, you are paying mainly for the labor involved in making it. The scenes available from a movie are usually limited to what is in the trailer. On rare occasions someone will edit a few clips or scenes out of a print of the film — or even cut up an entire film, but entire 35mm films are hard to come by (especially popular films). (The same applies to 70mm clips and films; l6mm films are more common, but very few people collect l6mm clips.) Even rarer are clips from the "floor" of the editing room — from all of the film scraps leftover after editing a film together. These sometimes contain scenes not used in the finished film. (A note on the term 'rare': its use here does not necessarily mean the clips are more valuable.) Clips from TV are generally harder to come by, as TV has no use for 35mm previews. Either episodes are cut up or editing floor scraps are saved from destruction. Note: editing floor scraps generally have no sound track.

Gene Roddenberry saved all the editing scraps from Star Trek and his films The Questor Tapes, Genesis II, Planet Earth, and Spectre, as well as for the series Kung Fu and Search. These are being sold in packets through his wife's company, Lincoln Enterprises. For their catalog, write to: Lincoln Enterprises [address is a PO Box in Los Angeles].

Publicity slides and transparencies are another matter. Most movies and TV shows have these made, available for newspapers, magazines & the like, for illustrating & advertising purposes. Slides are generally full frame 35mm (as opposed to clips being usually half frame 35mm). Transparencies come in a variety of sizes, such as 2 1/4 x 2 1/4, 4x5, 5x7, and 8x10. Publicity slides and transparencies are about the only source of slides from shows that are videotaped. [1]

A more recent description by a Star Trek fan:

"..... a film clip started its life as a frame in a roll of 35mm film housed at the Desilu/Paramount studio. Someone, for example a volunteer worker at Lincoln Enterprises, obtained the roll of film from the studio and then cut the frame from it. Once it was cut, the frame was mounted in either a cardboard or plastic holder so that it could be viewed with a 35mm slide projector. For those of us with black and white television sets in the late 1960’s, projecting a clip on the wall was the only way to see a piece of Star Trek in true living color. We’re fortunate that Gene Roddenberry sanctioned the distribution of “rolls of film clips” to the general public. As a result, there are a lot of Star Trek film clips out there – millions, in fact. And if you don’t believe me, consider this: an average 50-min episode of Star Trek generated approximately 72,000 film frames per print. Now, multiply that number (72,000) times the number of Trek episodes in the original series, and, if you do the math correctly, you should arrive at a number greater than 5,600,000 frames! And, of course, that number doesn't even take into account the number of frames from the myriad takes required for the myriad scenes of an episode, nor does it take into account the number of prints that were duplicated for the networks to broadcast, nor the special effects shots and their intermediates, nor the production of the internegatives and interpositives for printing, etc. So, whew, there are indeed a lot of little “gems” out there!"[2]

The distribution of Star Trek film clips (and other clips) began early on. At general science fiction conventions such as FunCon held in 1968:

The Statler Hilton, downtown L.A. hosted Chuck Crayne's FunCon and was surely a hallmark in Star Trek history. Not only did the bloopers finally get shown in their entirety before a completely fannish audience, but Roddenberry brought an amazing assortment of props and costumes from the show. He was also giving away packets of film clips. To top if off, a surprise guest was William ("I just want to thank Mr. Roddenberry for hiring me") Shatner. Another plus at the con was a performance of "H.M.S. Trek-A-Star" a clever Trek-oriented play with Jerry Jacks, Poul, Karen and Astrid Anderson.[3]

Film clips were used as incentives to sweeten the pot in early fan campaigns:

After the cancellation of the TV in its second season, Roddenberry met with college students to organize "spontaneous" protest marches and put Star Trek stickers on the cars of NBC executives. He also recruited people to visit NBC's Burbank and New York offices, talking to anyone who would listen about Star Trek's incipient cancellation and passing out leaflets, buttons and stickers to anyone interested. In addition, he sent out flyers to anyone who had written fan mail. He also provided the group with film clip frames (from the cutting room floor) and various small items from the set that could be sold to defray expenses. This was the beginning of the Lincoln Enterprises souvenir/premium catalogue. Bjo Trimble said:

Gene Roddenberry gave us a great many film clips and so on -- odds and ends of things around the set -- to sell to fans and friends, so that we could defray some of the expenses of the campaign. Well, the stuff went like wildfire and I knew then that fans -- all Star Trek fans, not just our friends -- would dig the chance to buy this kind of stuff... [4]

Purchasing Film Clips

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Lincoln Enterprises

Also see Lincoln Enterprises and Fandom and Profit.

The sale of the film clips through Roddenberry's Lincoln Enterprises served both as marketing outreach as well as a business venture:

Undoubtedly, the coolest piece of merchandise available in the catalog were the 35mm film clip frames. In another brilliant merchandising move, Gene took the original first print dailies from the show, cut them into individual frames, and sold them through the Lincoln catalog. The film clips were sold in sets, with each group consisting of 8 shots of the designated character or object. No two frames were alike, and some frames actually contained behind-the-scenes images and deleted sequences not seen in the televised version of the show. At only $1 per set, this was easily one of the most popular items in the catalog. A fan felt like they truly owned a piece of the show when they purchased these film clips. Although many of the items carried in the catalog would be carried for years after the show went off the air, these film frames were only available for a relatively short time due to their unique, limited nature.....[The sale of the film clips] ...offered a previously unheard of direct line of communication with the fans, which proved to be instrumental in keeping viewers updated on the status of Roddenberry’s television properties. [5]

In 1993, Majel Barrett Roddenberry explained:

We haven’t expanded beyond the original intent, actually, but we’re about to. We used to carry just memorabilia. If it didn’t exist in the show, we just didn’t carry it. In other words we weren’t into the games and things like that. We work with the Writers Guild so we can sell scripts exactly as they are used in the show. They look the same, they are the same. Page for page they are the actual script. We used to have [original] film clips which, of course, we’ve run out of. They were just little film clip frames, but everyone liked them so much because they were a little piece of Star Trek. And that was our aim, to let everyone have a small piece of Star Trek. That was basically how we kept the show on the air.[6]

Other Film Clip Catalogs and Companies

While Lincoln Enterprises was the mothership, it weren't the only game in town. Fans, in amateur, semi-pro, and professional capacities, created their own companies and issued catalogs.

Legalities of Film Clip Collecting: Trading and Buying

Also see Copyright, Fandom and Profit.

Once the film clips entered into fannish hands, confusion reigned as to whether it was lawful to sell them and whether one needed a license. It soon became clear that neither Paramount nor Lincoln Enterprises knew the answer, and fans were understandably confused.

The line between fannish and not-fannish, and the official and unofficial policy, was a tricky one to navigate. A 1976 comment:

"For the past few months we've been trying to shed some light on the filmclip legality. Anyone who has tried to investigate this himself knows that most everyone has their opinions about it, but very few people have any facts... Paramount's legal department might at first seem to be the logical choice to start, but after a few letters from them, you get the feeling that either THEY are mixed up, or are deliberately trying to mix US up. [they talk of Lincoln Enterprises' confusing activities and statements in the catalog]... We are also interesting in knowing the distinction between an activity that Paramount will not license and one that is illegal." [7]

Comments in "The Clipper Trade Ship"

In many issues of The Clipper Trade Ship, the subject of film clips came up regularly. Below are excerpts from the early issues arranged in chronological order. One of the first topics that was raised was the difference between selling 'mounted' (into a slide) clips vs unmounted (loose) clips:

[From TCTS #3 (1974), a comment in LOC]: "You might write Richard Arnold about the legalities of selling clips. He knows the details and has told me on occasions, but I forget. I think Lincoln is the only licensed dealer to sell unmounted clips, however anyone can get away with selling mounted clips — something like that."

This led fans to trying various "workarounds" which, in the absence of any clear direction did not seem to ease tensions:

[From TCTS #3 (1974), in a con report for Equicon]: "One question remained unresolved: does one need a license from Paramount to sell clips and photos? We were led to believe before the convention that one wasn't needed. Then rumor had it that a Paramount representative was being sent to check everybody out. Rather than force a confrontation to our belief that a license was not necessary, we conceived a gimmick of selling a cheap plastic frame, giving away 3 ST photo free with each purchase. As was, no one check to see if we were licensed, although I panicked when the Roddenberrys walked into the room.

And what goodies were available! Last year's Equicon's dealers' room was nothing in comparison. All sorts of Star Trek shirts, fanzines, buttons, name plates, drawings, photos, and bumper stickers were there. Lincoln Enterprises had a table where you could place your order and get it the following day. (We tried to find Lincoln Enterprises before the con, using the address in the phone book; that led us to an empty building in the middle of the adult theatre section of Hollywood.) Lots of photos were on hand, made from clips, or publicity stills. One person even had about, a dozen scenes from the animated Star Trek 'Beyond the Farthest Star" on the last day: 3 1/2x5 for $1.50; wouldn't you like his clips? Also available for $6 was a 12 page set of blueprints to a Constitution class starship, HIGHLY detailed and well worth the cost.

Clips were plentiful and decently priced (as was everything else). One person sold sets of 80 mounted special effects for $10; another sold excellent packs of 48 unmounted clips grouped by show at $5 each, having many hard to get scenes; he also had a few blooper shots mounted at 50 cents each. One dealer was lucky to find in the trash at Warner Brothers long strips of the special effects scenes from the end of "Questor". He sold sets of 5 scenes for $2. (As is, the only other way I know of to get clips from "Questor" or "Genesis II" is to buy a key chain viewer from Lincoln Enterprises and pry loose the trimmed clip.) And present was one group whom I've seen at recent west coast conventions who sells packets of clips from science fiction and fantasy movies, such as 2001: A Space Odyssey; all the Ape films; all the James Bond Films; Asylum; King Kong; etc.etc. Their price: about $5 for a packet that contains 25-100 clips."

[From TCTS #6, from a con report for The Red Hour Festival]: "The one day Star Trek convention I attended was the Star Trek Archive's Red Hour Festival. I have little idea what it was like, as I was shackled to a dealer's table all day long, selling TCTS and whatever anybody wanted me to get rid of. As I cannot afford a liscense [sic] from Paramount for Star Trek material, I could only trade wallet size Star Trek photos for film clips and whatever else came along."

The lack of clarity soon spilled over to fans questioning whether Majel Roddenberry and Lincoln Enterprises had a legal right to sell the clips:

[From TCTS #8 (1975), from the editorial]: "Also, in the last issue of TCTS, there was a plug for VIDEO HOUSE. I have in my possession a letter from a reputable individual that states that Video House products are illegal. in spite of what their flyers state (merchandise manufactured under license copyrighted 1974, etc.). If this outfit is illegal, and you order film clips from them, you are robbing Gene Roddenberry!...."

Hold it. Everyone knows that Gene Roddenberry's wife Majel owns Lincoln Enterprises, the major source of ST film clips. But are their film clips legal?

Five months ago, I received this letter from Paramount's legal department:

Dear Mr. Rondeau:
In response to your letter dated April 15, 1975, regarding the above-referenced matter, please be advised that Paramount controls and owns all copyrights in and to Star Trek and therefore no such merchandise can be sold without Paramount permission. Star Trek licenses are granted on a non-exclusive one-time basis only for Star Trek merchandise to be sold at specific conventions. The license fee consists of an initial payment of Twenty-five Dollars ($25.00) plus ten percent (10%) of your gross receipts.
If you wish to obtain a license for a specific convention, please notify me in writing of the items you wish to sell and the date and the name of the : convention at which you wish to sell such items. I will then take the necessary steps in preparing the license.
You stated in your letter some of the items you may possibly want to sell, among which were film clips and slides. Please be advised that Paramount does not license the sale of Star Trek film clips and slides.
We sincerely appreciate your continued interest in "Star Trek".
Sincerely, (signed) Jeffrey S. Robin"

Curious fans began showing up at Lincoln Enterprises' address in the hopes of obtaining '"legal copies" - only to find an unstaffed, location:

[From TCTS #9, from a letter of comment]: "Yes, Virginia, there is a Lincoln Enterprises. On December 15, [Debbie C] and I, armed with the current address listed in the phone book, tracked it down and found... a Barbecue Pit? — a restaurant by that name.

But in back, peering through dirty windows into empty rooms, we found the pirates' treasure. There were stacks and stacks of boxes and boxes labeled "Star Trek #24," "Star Trek #56," "Star Trek - Guest Stars," "Questor," "Search," and many more, A few lay open revealing reels of Star Trek film, some from Shore Leave quite faded in the morning sun. One could just imagine a monkey shackled to the roughly-hewn table before the window, scissors in hand, making Star Trek grab bags.

Sigh. We returned to the restaurant and dialed the number listed. A voice that sounded too similar to Majel Barret's informed us that Lincoln did mail order only. So, we trudged on."

Yet more efforts were made to obtain some sort of "yea" or "nay" as to whether fans could sell their film clips:

[From TSTS #11 (1976), from the editorial]: "I asked [Eric J.A.] to do some research for me, as I have little time on my own to do it. He has been primarily trying to find out what rights we have to our Star Trek film clips. In his search so far, Paramount has contradicted themselves, Roddenberry has contradicted himself, and several fandom sources of authority have all said something different. Even two books on copyright law conflict with each other. However, there are kind individuals and groups in ST fandom who have asked us to quit, concerned with our safety and that of fandom in general, lest Paramount Pictures bare its teeth. I do not think that will happen. But fandom is beginning to shun TCTS for that reason, and is becoming vocal on it. At any rate I have asked Eric to wind down the investigation and begin summarizing what he has gathered into an article for some near future issue. So much for free speech. Anyway — I am pro-Star Trek, but only pro-fandom in some ways and anti-fandom in some other ways. My main beef is the high ideals Gene Roddenberry spouts about ST in speeches on one hand, and on the other, his wife's company, Lincoln Enterprises, is selling such items as Unisex Klingon warning whistles, things I find degrading to the series. But that is only MY opinion; please don't lambaste on that."

After Star Wars was released, many fans switched their buying and selling activities from Star Trek to Star Wars, and the question of the legality of selling film clips followed:

[From TCTS #18 (1977), from the editorial]: "By now you are all familiar with the Star Wars phenomena sweeping the country and fandom. ST fans are dropping ST like mad & taking up the SW banner. And because of the relatively free atmosphere they had with ST, they're carrying over the same things with SW: stories, fanzines, making buttons, collecting film clips, etc. etc. The first SW porn story has probably already been published by the time you read this. [8] But what unsuspecting SW fans don't realize is that 20th Century Fox and its licensees are not letting their property to be so freely used as Star Trek was. The company that owns the rights to buttons, posters, etc., is not hesitating to slap a $1.1 million lawsuit on anyone selling buttons and the like not under their manufacture. The phrases "Star Wars" and "May the Force Be With You" have been trademarked. The FBI is confiscating stills from dealers. And various horror stories are beginning to circulate. Don't worry, though. The FBI won't break down your door for owning any SW's items (unless you have a copy of the movie or stolen props). And by current copyright laws, 20th Century Fox can't do anything to you for writing SW stories — unless you use a trademarked phrase or two. (Use "SW" and "Go With the Force.") It is inevitable that SW fiction will find its way to these pages before these pages [of The Clipper Trade Ship] cease to exist."

And then in 1975 came this bombshell: Paramount had not legally transferred the copyrights for the first two seasons of Star Trek when they acquired Desilu Productions, leaving those years in the public domain.[9]

[Also from TCTS #18’s editorial (1977)]: "A few years ago I raised the question of copyright on ST film clips. It was my contention that these cutting room floor scraps some of us collect were not copyrighted, not being part of the actual footage used in the final print, and hence not subject to Paramount's jurisdiction on selling, making photos from slides, etc. This brought trouble. The Star Trek Welcommittee (STW) higher-ups and other prominent fans assured me that I was wrong, and when [Eric J.A.] volunteered to research my proposal on TCTS's behalf (STW, of which he is a member, refused to let him write in their name as well) and began writing letters of inquiry around the country, the cries of protest from certain fans grew greater. TCTS's popularity began falling (and still is). Vicious rumors were spread about Eric. I grew tired of having long written arguments through the mail with some fans and finally asked Eric to summarize his findings, and for us on the surface to give up. Things began to quiet down...

Why did they want us to stop? They were afraid Paramount would suddenly be "awakened" by us and stomp down hard on most fan activities. Some were afraid that we'd be stomped first.

That final report was to appear back in TCTS 12. It didn't. Things grew very quiet. Eric stopped writing, even to me, and so did I. The project faded away, leaving TCTS faintly scarred. The concerned fans may think they won. But the victory is ours.

The victory is not necessarily complete, but this is why: Paramount took Thunderbird Films to court because Thunderbird Films wanted to mass market ST episodes to sell to the public. Paramount lost, as it became public that they had failed to copyright the first two seasons of ST. Hence any clips/slides from the first two seasons Paramount can lay no claim over. Still in doubt (but not to me) are third season cutting room floor scraps — but Eric's findings still support my original argument. As far as I'm concerned, this affair is over at last, and we are the winners."

After several years the legality issues seemed to focus into whether it was legal to sell copies or duplicates of film clips. Selling and reselling the actual clips seemed to be less an issue, under the doctrine of "first sale"[10] which was finally codified in US copyright law in 1976:

[From TCTS #21 (1978), from an article called “Clips and Slides,” no author listed]: “LEGALITY: I cannot say the hobby of collecting film clips and slides is wholly legal; there are a few areas of reasonable doubt. In theory trailers are the property of movie distributors, and there is no way for anyone to own them. But movie posters are also, but are openly sold nationwide, and nothing is ever done about it. The question of copyright is a very sticky question. Owning film clips is in the same category as owning motion pictures and TV episodes, which doesn't make it any clearer. Or actually, owning film clips and slides is no problem, it's selling them, dupes, and/or prints made from them— there's where the question of legality springs up. Even if copyright doesn't cover it, actors sometimes own the rights to their faces, and could possibly sue. I am not saying that if you buy, sell, and/or trade in film clips, there will be a dark cloud over your head, and the FBI lurking around the corner. I'm merely trying to point out that in some very rare cases you might run into trouble—such as slides and transparencies (or dupes from them) that were originally swiped from a motion picture studio of scenes never released to the public in the first place, of a major motion picture the company wants to protect its rights to. I have yet to hear of an actual case of someone collecting or selling clips and slides being forced to stop at the command of any authorities."

But with the new copyright law come confusion in other areas, including whether fanzines fell under the rubric of derivative works or transformative works:

[From TCTS #22 (1978), from the editorial]: “The old copyright law, and the new one that replaced it on January 1 of this year, were designed to protect the rights of an artist, writer, or musician of his creation. The new law, however, provides much more protection than before, and fanzine writers, artists, and editors could easily find themselves in trouble, should a copyright holder move in to protect his rights. .....[Twentieth Century-Fox] if it chooses, could sue any fanzine, editor, artist, or writer that is involved with a "derivative work" of Star Wars. The likelihood of something like this happening is very small, yet the possibility does exist — especially for 20th Century-Fox with regards to Star Wars (along with Star Wars Corporation) They have already shown an unusual amount of zeal, perhaps an other than rational fervor, in protecting their property. They are in the process of suing Universal Studios, claiming that Battlestar Galactica is a SW ripoff. They have worked closely with the FBI on the largest operation against film piracy in history. And they have enjoined the FBI to investigate one step further, and go after possibly illegal posters, stills, trinkets, and film clips."

And even though the doctrine of first sale had been legally codified, one major studio recruited the FBI to pursue memorabilia sellers, including the sellers of fan clips. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of one such incident:

[From TCTS #22 (1978), from the editorial]: "[The sale of film clips]..... are of interest to a large minority of this fanzine's following. By the copyright law it is illegal to dupe clips or make prints from them in order to make a personal profit (presuming the clips have a valid copyright) there is the principal of "first sale" that virtually nullifies the copyright, see the copyright law). However, the simple trafficking in film clips themselves is another matter. The copyright law with respects to that is not a clear shade of black or white, but an unresolved grey — perhaps a very light grey. That they are copyrighted is no dispute, nonetheless, there are aspects of the law that indicate them legal to be sold. This is all leading up to a peculiar series of events that recently began to which no conclusion has yet been reached. They involve film clips, the FBI, 20th Century-Fox, and the editor of a small fanzine in part devoted to the hobby of collecting film clips (who shall remain nameless by necessity).

It began early in a summer month when two FBI agents made a small raid on a little movie memorabilia shop In a not-so-major city on the West Coast. Their objective was to confiscate a number of film clip packets that were for sale there, and to learn their origin. Not having a search warrant didn't deter them (a rather illegal move on their part), and the shopowner was too intimidated to consider it. They first I demanded that he sign a paper that would waive his legal frights, which he rightly refused to do. Then they demanded that he sign a paper authorizing them to destroy the film clips should they decide they were illegal, in violation of the copyright law (no specific charge was made). He agreed to that, but on a very limited basis: only packets that were his own. As it was, 95% of the packets bad been left on consignment by the fanzine editor. The form they had him sign did not list film clips, just things like bootleg records and tapes, which they had to cross out in order to write in "film clips," An agent signed a receipt (a plain piece of paper with the terms handwritten, the signature almost illegible, with no address other than city and state) for the items taken. They insisted that the shopowner divulge the identity of his supplier, making veiled threats, giving him one week to have the supplier (the editor) contact them when he refused. They left, and he has yet to hear from then again, many weeks after their first and only visit.

He, like many people, is very afraid of the FBI; we all have heard peculiar stories of government law enforcement agencies that make us wonder just which side of the law are they really on. So had the fanzine editor, as well as stories particular to the film collecting hobby. The shopowner called him that night to inform the editor of the incident...... Two nights of frantic long distance phone calls yielded a small amount of free legal advice from a man who had passed the Bar and sold film clips as well. He advised as a precautionary measure in order to avoid months of costly and needless litigation to store elsewhere anything in the editor's possession relating to film, and not to talk to the FBI without first getting a lawyer. Sound advice, as both were familiar with the FBI's lack of knowledge when it comes to copyright and film. Too many times the FBI has equated film owning with film piracy, and if they were after film clips (and the coming attractions previews they were from), nothing was safe left at the editor's residence. However, by this time the editor was beginning to think more rationally, as he remembered that.... he wasn't guilty of anything. So he only moved some material to a safer place, and got a lawyer. As the days slipped by, while the lawyer did research in the matter, he came to realize that the chances the FBI would come knocking on his door were very remote. The lawyer got back to him, having checked the laws applicable, and having talked to one of the FBI agents that had made the raid.

Legally, [the lawyer] confirmed the editor's findings, and advised not allowing the FBI to interview him — too many fishy things were going on. The agent had admitted that they were acting on the behalf of 20th Century-Fox/Star Wars, from an alleged complaint against the shop ....and that they didn't know what they were going to do with the film clips, except, perhaps, send them to their respective studios for "testing" — something they still hadn't done weeks after the raid. They can't quite pinpoint....anything illegal about them. The agent once said it was all right to sell to sell the coming attractions preview the clips came from, but one couldn't cut the preview up and sell the individual frames) that makes no sense. Further advice the lawyer gave was not to press any suit or try to get most of the packets back, as it would alert the film companies who might then try to legally close up the sources of film clips. And there's where the situation stands as of the writing of this.....

(The preceding should definitely conclude the long-running controversy in TCTS on the legality of Star Trek clips. Paramount maintained for years that they were illegal to sell, yet never attempted to prosecute anyone.)”

The final outcome of the FBI? Nothing, and the majority of the clips were returned.

[From TCTS #24 (1979), in an reply to an LoC (to one of the Duncan sisters)]: “There has been a conclusion to the adventure of the FBI confiscating film clip packets I had left on consignment at a movie memorabilia shop related two issues ago. On January 2, five months after they had been confiscated, the agent in charge of the investigation phoned me up and simply informed me that the investigation was completed, and the film clips were being returned without comment. A few months before he had threatened me with legal proceedings if I continued to refuse to sign a form allowing them to destroy the clips. I had the clips dropped off at my lawyer's, rather than traveling forty miles to pick them up. The only thing missing in the batch, with no explanation given, were the three SW packets of the group. Presumably the FBI had sent them to 20th Century-Fox for analysis, and the film company refused to return them. So much for film clips and the FBI.”

Regarding 1980's Star Trek: The Motion Picture and film clips:

The movie was filmed in Panavision, which, like Cinemascope, is a wide screen format. You need a special distorting lens to film it, and a special distorting lens to project it. Elsewise, if you look at the actual film itself, the figures look squished vertically. Hence, cutting room scraps wouldn't be too exciting. On the other hand, the coining attractions preview was made in what they call corrected 'scope, so you wouldn't need a special lens — this would be your prime source of clips. But that's not all. There's also slide duplicates of publicity material. As far as I've been able to determine, film clips from the preview are technically legal, and slide duplicates are technically illegal — but that hasn't stopped people from duping slides. [11]

Comments in "Spectrum"

From an exchange between two fans in Spectrum #35 in January 1978:

Where does Paramount come off, trying to rip off us fen? Instead of charging a little bit for a film, their prices have going up into the hundreds and thousands of dollars. That stinks. I can't really pin anything on Roddenberry, but Paramount has been cracking down on people selling ST film clips without permission. Now, granted, Paramount has sole rights to these clips, but the fans selling them can't be hurting Paramount really. It seems to me that Paramount and Roddenberry are just trying to get all the money they can and not share it with anyone else.

Paramount is a business, not a charity institution. They are not blind to the amount of $$ con-givers are making, and they want their percentage. You must also realize that the cost of renting an episode also does things like paying the Writer's Guild their cut, if I have been informed correctly.
You're not going to like what I have to say about film clips either. Paramount is not blind to the enormous profits being made by the big-time dealers at cons. The studio has the right to their percentage, or to crack down on people selling. You seem to forget that they legally own this stuff. Lo, these many years ago, Paramount was the one who shelled out hard cash to make Star Trek. It belongs to them, even the film clips which are throw- away scraps (until they throw them in a public dump, they own 'em). They paid the actors in those film clips - they paid for sets, the costumes, the scripts — they own it. Morally, ethically, legally, they are entirely within their rights to demand a percentage on any monies anyone is making on what they own. Look at it this way — if you owned Star Trek, would you be as generous as you condemn Paramount for not being? I don't think so. In the past. Paramount has turned a blind eye to the dealing that went on since there was only a handful of dealers. Things have changed considerably. Vie've brought it upon ourselves, even those of us who are not dealers, by buying from the over-priced ones. Paramount has given the fans every consideration in this department, and they're the ones who've been robbed. (For example, even the licensed dealers report only a fraction of their con profits in order to minimize their percentage to Paramount.) I do not think they can be faulted for finally protecting themselves. [12]

Collecting and Discussing

Buying, selling, and trading film clips was an activity highlighted in the zine The Clipper Trade Ship. This zine had many editorials and articles about trading clips at conventions and the legalities of distributing film clips. It also had a regular column called "Identiclip," which was about identifying and storing film clips.

There were many ads in this zine, and others, informing fans of other like-minded collectors, of catalogs that sold clips, and of fans offering to trade and sell their clips with other fans. There are mentions in zines of some fans personally owning thousands and thousands of clips. [13]

A 1974 sample ad in The Clipper Trade Ship #2:

"WANTED!! WANTED!! The title shots to Star Trek episodes (clips with the title on them, such as "Mudd's Women"); need all except "A Private Little War." Will trade 5 ST clips for any one title clip, or a slide duplication of one, or will trade a dupe of a blooper shot (such as Spock eating a tootsie roll pop) for a dupe of one. What do you have and what do you want?" Another sample ad in the same zine: "I have over 8500 ST clips in my personal collection which I will duplicate in trade for dupes or originals of yours. Massive clip trading can be done up to 100 clips at a time... With 8500 clips, chances are that I have what you want -- and if you have what I want, we can make out a deal."

For many fans, clip collecting was part of the convention experience:

The word "convention" seems to mean drunken businessmen, careening down hotel halls, playing practical jokes on passer by! To science fiction fans, "convention" means getting together with people of like interests, to share a fine time of movies, speeches, meeting others, and generally having a good time, without being destructive to property or self. The most serious problem a young conventioneer might have is staying up too late to trade film clips or sing folk songs! We can only hope your folks give us a chance. Show them the committee listing, so they'll know we aren't a bunch of nuts, but responsible citizens with normal family lives, jobs and other everyday things. [14]

By contrast, the huckster room was packed. Really congested. Totally disordered. I avoided it for the most part when I found out that no one had been licensed to sell film clips and very few people were trading. It was just not worth getting creamed." [15]

"As usual, I was a huckster out to suck dry the wallets of every Convention-goer there. But I wasn't chained to my table as much as I have been in the past; either that, or I'm getting used to it. The Dealers' Room did offer a variety of interesting items. There were those who sold film clip packets from Flesh Gordon to Logan's Run (3 months before the movie premiered), and others who sold full frame Star Trek dupes." [16]

Uses Of

Photo References

Also see Photo Reference.

The 2007 article Dribbling Scribbling Women: The History of Our Art discusses at great length the importance of photo references for artists and the difficulties, before the internet, of finding them:

Source material has certainly evolved over the years. I know I’ve said this before, and it sounds like that saying that parents tell their kids (‘I used to walk 20 miles through a snowstorm to get to school’), but when I first started drawing K/S, all we had were clippings from magazines or publicity photos to draw from. And the best material was tiny film clips that were yellowing and sepia-colored with age that I would get printed at the local photo shop. That was sometimes a bit testy because of copyright, so it was never easy. For the bodies, I would scour the gay porn shops for magazines and calendars. That was real fun — marching into a gay porn shop and trying to look nonchalant while you leaf through these horrible gay porn magazines and try to act unconcerned when you buy them. But even now with digital everything it’s always difficult coming up with the right source material. Today, we can enjoy the sophisticated reproduction of art in zines and so the modern K/S illustrator can use almost any medium she fancies from paints to computers, from pencils to elephant dung! But in the early days this was far from the case...[17]

The earliest and most easily available reference sources were Starlog and the Trek calendars. Then came trading cards and collectors’ photos, and eventually lots of clear photos for sale by dealers. But sometimes there was the last resort of taking photos off the TV screen: crude, but workable. Having prints made from the 35 mm film clips that were available in the early days was another option. Remember, this was before everyone had a VCR and computers. Dark ages indeed! [18]


Also see Slideshows.

Early Vidding

Perhaps the most significant impact of the free (or least low cost) distribution of the film clips was how it led to the creation of fan vids in an era before VCRs or DVRs.

From Fanlore's vidding page: "With the exception of Star Trek, where Gene Roddenberry's Lincoln Enterprises actually sold film clips, slides and other materials, very few fans had access to these. Vidding didn't really open up until the invention and commercial availability of the VCR[19], which gave fans a way to copy their source material from television, and a way for them to linearly edit their source to create music videos. That said, the technology was expensive, and as a result it became common for groups of fans to share technology and access to source materials (in particular, hard-to-find TV shows)."

Example: What Do You Do With a Drunken Vulcan? (1975)

Support as Visuals in Pro Books

Fans supplied film clips to support professionally-published reference books.

An excerpt, something that shows just how entwined the author of this book, the famous Star Fleet Technical Manual, was with fans and their involvement and help:

I have no desire to market this material myself, the sale at Equicon '74 was a trial run to determine the degree of fan interest and acceptance. Needless to say, the response has "been overwhelming. I received a call from Paramount Television after the Con, and they seriously want to market my work using their international organization. We are currently in negotiations aimed towards a mutually agreeable arrangement. If they take it on, the material will be available to the fans in volume without sacrificing quality. I am agreeable to preparing anything for the Manual which the fans really want, if the source material is available from which to prepare it. In this regard, you may perhaps be an asset, since I currently have to rely on film clips and photos from the local fans. This has been a real drawback in efforts to prepare drawings of the various bridge stations. I can lay out each station dimensionally correct from material I have, but I have seen nothing which would be any use in attempting to correctly lay out the hundreds and hundreds of switches and lights in the various panels. I can easily make them what they ought to be, but this wouldn't be Kosher Star Trek. This is also a difficult task because the bridge set changed every week, it was constantly in a state of addition or alteration." [20]

As Recruiting Tools

Fans also used their clips to recruit other fans. In Halkan Council #8 one a fan suggests that another fan take her many film clips and make a slide show for many of the elementary, junior and senior high Star Trek fan clubs to watch: "Probably many of them don't have access to clips and imagine how exciting it would be!"

Clips were used as a 1976 charity fundraiser: Dunsel Box.

The Red Clip Syndrome

Holding film clips, slides, and some early film was not unlike holding a bit of lightning, a bright flash, that was soon to disappear.

example of deterioration in a 35mm film clip over time. This slide experienced "red-shift" - the result of tri-acetate deterioration

Fans began to discover that the clips they had collected were turning red, that the the objects of their intense interest in verifying colors, characters, and the minutia of the original images was slowly (or not so slowly) being altered due to time and a process they were helpless to stop.

more examples of the inevitable red-shift

A fan explained in 1978:

THE RED CLIP SYNDROME: Color film clips do not last forever. It has been estimated that under the best conditions, colors will change in fifteen years. The blue end of the spectrum fades first, until all that is left are red-hued clips and slides. The process is accelerated if the clips and slides aren't stored properly, exposed often to bright light, or if the film wasn't properly processed in the first place. There was a process for movie film used before 1955, the I.B. (imbition) Technicolor process that prolonged color life, but that was phased out long ago.

There seems to be two choices for slide collectors who wish to continue to be slide collectors. The first is to dupe all slides they want to keep just before they fade, and then dupe the dupes before they fade, and so on. There would be a slight loss of quality with each generation of dupes, the cost enormous for large collections, but the color would be there. One reader reports that Fujichrome dupes fade faster than the rest.

The alternative is to forego color and have black and white duplicates made — b&w is fairly permanent. The problem here is that b&w slide film is not common, nor do I know of any commercial lab that processes it. The film would have to be specific. I ordered (and [it] only comes in bulk), someone with a slide copier would have to shoot the dupes, and the film would have to be processed in someone's darkroom (a simple process).

My knowledge of this subject is not complete—there may be better hopes. [21]

This color change was not just limited to slides and film clips. In 1985, Richard Arnold wrote his first letter to Interstat and offered some information on the video tapes that a fan had been complaining about:

"I would like to try and straighten out some of the misunderstandings and problems you've run into regarding Paramount Home Video's releases of the Star Trek series episodes. I read your letter in the latest issue of INTERSTAT #97, and, although I do not work for Home Video, I do work with them on this particular release, and also work for Gene Roddenberry as his on-lot Star Trek expert, so please accept that I know what I'm talking about, and this is not just a form letter of any kind..... The colors you are used to and claim to be correct are not. Jeffrey Hunter's hair was not black but brown, and his eyes were very blue, but even the bluest eyes get washed out by studio lighting. The earlier release of the "Menagerie" double tape was not from the original negatives. This new release is, and the color is perfect. If you are a film clip collector, as I am, you would know that all film fades with time. Brown goes to black, blue goes to gray, and only red stays bright. That is why the cover picture on the "Menagerie" tape of this current release looks so's from a twenty-one year old film clip. Only prints made from the original negatives are true color, and it has probably been eighteen years since prints of this quality have been made." [22]

As Subjects of Parody

"Turning to the rest of the hucksters, I quickly found out that Star Trek film clips were forbidden at this con by Paramount Studios. From dealer to dealer, the same tale: sorry, no film clips... At that moment I spied one dealer making a transaction beneath the table (underhanded of him, you might say). A few slides were being sold on the sly, my eagle eyes told me. So I nonchalantly strolled up and casually asked: if he indeed nave any Star Trek slides for sale — under the counter. "Why, of course — " he began, beaming, oscillating his eyebrows, "— we have — ooo — " His voice and manner abruptly changed as his eyes, flickering to my name badge, focused on "Paramount." "- no slides for sale. They aren't licensed." Beads of perspiration gleamed on his forehead..." [23]

Meta/Further Reading


  1. ^ from The Clipper Trade Ship #21 (1978), from the uncredited article "On Clips & Slides"
  2. ^ StarTrek History - Behind the Scenes: Film Clips, Archived version, undated, probably in the 2010s
  3. ^ Alan White's 1968 - Fandom Is Where You Find It, accessed August 26, 2012; WebCite. See: Star Trek Conventions
  4. ^ Bjo Trimble, quoted in Marc Cushman and Susan Osborn, These Are The Voyages - TOS: Season Three (Jacobs Brown, 2015). Also see: History of Star Trek Fan Campaigns
  5. ^ Star Trek A Collector's Trek #5: Lincoln Enterprises Merchandise, Archived version, 2011
  6. ^ from a 1993 interview, see Lincoln Enterprises: A Little Piece of Star Trek
  7. ^ The Halkan Council #17 (1976)
  8. ^ That's a little optimistic... and depends on how one defines porn... The first PG-13, possibly R-rated, fan fics were published in 1981. See The Star Wars Letters.
  9. ^ There were two challenges to Paramount's Star Trek claims in the 1970s and 1980s. In the first challenge in 1975 Paramount lost and Thunderbird Films was allowed to continue selling 16mm copies of the TV episodes until proper ownership of the series could be reestablished. Paramount won the second challenge in 1981. In that lawsuit, it was alleged that Desilu Productions had failed to put the then required copyright notices on the first season of Star Trek. Paramount was able to successfully establish a copyright on VHS and later DVD issues of Star Trek, claiming this was the first official "sale" and that the TV shows were not "published" but syndicated, a form of limited distribution without notice allowed by the copyright law. Source: Yahoo Entertainement law Question, Archived version. See also Paramount Pictures Corp. vs Leslie Rubinowitz, et l, USDC E.D.NY 217 USPQ 48 (6-26-1981)
  10. ^ "The first sale doctrine, codified at 17 U.S.C. § 109, provides that an individual who knowingly purchases a copy of a copyrighted work from the copyright holder receives the right to sell, display or otherwise dispose of that particular copy, notwithstanding the interests of the copyright owner." Source: Wikipedia.
  11. ^ comments by Jim Rondeau in The Clipper Trade Ship #28
  12. ^ from Spectrum #35 (January 1978)
  13. ^ "I have been collecting clips for a year and a half, and have at least 3000." -- comment in The Clipper Trade Ship #2 (1974)
  14. ^ a Equicon 1974 progress report
  15. ^ a Equicon 1975 con report
  16. ^ a Equicon 1976 con report
  17. ^ from Dribbling Scribbling Women: The History of Our Art (2007)
  18. ^ from Scribbling Women: Artists Talk Back, Vel Jaeger (2007)
  19. ^ The first home VCRs appeared in 1972 and began to gain popularity in 1975. 1976 saw the introduction of the VHS format.
  20. ^ Franz Joseph Schnaubelt, from the Star Fleet Technical Manual (1975)
  21. ^ from The Clipper Trade Ship #21 (1978), an article called "On Clips & Slides," no author listed
  22. ^ Interstat #98 (1985)
  23. ^ from a parody of a con report called The Reluctant Fan, published in The Clipper Trade Ship #8 (1975)