Interview with Derek and Sharon Screen

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Interview with Derek and Sharon Screen
Interviewer: Susan P. Batho
Interviewee: Derek and Sharon Screen
Date(s): July 18, 2001
Medium: online as PDF
Fandom(s): Star Trek
External Links: effect of commercialisation and direct intervention by the owners of intellectual copyright : a case study : the Australian Star Trek fan community by Susan Batho (2009)
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Derek and Sharon Screen were interviewed in Melbourne VIC. Derek does most of the talking.

The interview was included in an academic paper by Susan P. Batho which addresses the effect of the Viacom Crackdown, TPTB, and Australian fandom.

This interview is very long and concentrates on the Astrex fan club and a lot of legal situations involving fandom and profit.

Part of a Series


Derek: So you want to know specifically about this meeting with Paramount and Jonathan Zilli. Now, it's very difficult to talk about the meeting as a one-off because there are a lot things surrounding it that caused it, that it caused afterwards, things that happened afterward, et cetera. So probably, where I can start is when - you want to know a bit about the fan side of it as well? Well, probably the best place to start would be at Trekcon IV which was an AUSTREK mini convention which they run in 92 - it was September 92 - and they wanted to run a full day of activities just like the old days of minicons, with videos playing, costume parade, you name it, the normal type of fan activity. And everything was fine until after the minicon finished at 9 on Saturday night. We all went home and thought well, that was a good time. We all enjoyed ourselves. Whatever. And then the Sunday morning we got a phone call to say that the video projector that AUSTREK had used that day had been purchased by AUSTREK for 1500 bucks. Now, there's nine people on the committee, four of them weren't even there, two of them weren't asked and the others on their own decided to buy this video projector. Now bearing in mind that for years beforehand everyone's known that it’s technically illegal to screen videos to a mass audience. It wasn't so much the fact that they purchased it per se, it was the fact that a committee is a committee and they bypassed everyone and made a decision on their own, and spent most of the club's funds. Now there was a huge kerfuffle which lead to George Ivanoff who happened to be on the AUSTREK committee at that time doing a ring around and saying this is ridiculous, we've wiped out our money, we probably won't be able to show videos for too much longer anyway because of the hassles about what was going on with ASTREX in Sydney and George & Maria and the Australian Film & Videos Commission, et cetera et cetera. It was more to do with the fact that the committee was bypassed. So what they did was try to organise a special meeting as part of the AGM and vote the old committee off and censure them basically for what they had done, and to dispose of the projector which at that stage was useless already because it was an old thing, but more importantly, the club needed the money. You can't post a newsletter out if you don't have money in the account to post it out with, let alone print it. And literally, that's where they left the club. [much snipped] So, it basically started then. And the reason I am saying that is because from the moment that video projector was purchased, that's when the idiots running So, it basically started then. And the reason I am saying that is because from the moment that video projector was purchased, that's when the idiots running
Derek: Now the information that was passed onto Majel was including this letter here, dated 15th February '93 from Southern Star to Ray Raspa of WESTREK, which was in reply to a letter they sent to Southern Star after Southern Star sent a close-down, which basically said we are not going to close down the Star Trek clubs unless major breaches of copyright laws are committed, and they got that in writing. That's basically the only real thing that saved us at this meeting. So, it's interesting to note that when you talk to Paramount about anything at all, the only thing they are interested in is whether or not you agree that you broke their copyright law. If you say yes, you are in trouble. If you say no, they'll keep fighting you until they think they've got you. And that's what they did. They kept hounding Stuart Widderson, until basically Stuart cracked it and decided to go past Southern Star, to Paramount Australia and have it dealt with there.
Derek: Now the meeting itself, I have to say, was the strangest thing that we'd ever seen at that time. We got told to go to the hotel in Flinders Lane in Melbourne. It's one of our minor streets. It's a very small hotel. We got to the foyer at the appropriate time. We got taken up. We got introduced to the girl from Southern Star, who we already knew anyway. I'd phoned but never met her. We got introduced to the other person from Paramount. And then we went up to a hotel room. Now the meeting took place in a hotel room . It didn't take place in a hall or anything like that. It was simply done in a hotel room. Now, first of all we realised this was like an out of the way place, and it was just something - it didn't fit right. Why were we doing it in a hotel room? Why weren't we doing it in their offices, or something like that? But he flew down for the meeting from Sydney. As we walked in, Jonathan Zilli introduced himself to us. Hi, I'm Jonathan Zilli. I'm the vice-president of licensing worldwide. Here's my card. He gave everyone a card. It had his email address on it, his phone number on it, the works. Paramount logo and all that type of stuff.
Sharon: I was a member of AUSTREK when we used to have no videos but audio tapes. And some meetings consisted of things like discussing episodes or what new books had come out. We'd do things like Klingon Feasts and Tribble stuffing. There was no new Trek, and we had to make our own fun. And people would come along and go "Wow", because it was new to them. Then along came Next Gen and all of a sudden it was Trek again.
Sharon: Fans don't need to use their imaginations because you have Paramount churning out this stuff… and it’s just that they don't do it.