South Trek

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Fan Film
Title: South Trek
Creator: Steve Clarke, Brian Wallace, Nancy Clarke, Ruthanne Dyer
Date: June 1978
Length: 40 minutes
Medium: film
Genre: gen
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS

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from "The Making of South Trek," an article by Nancy Clarke, published in Canektion #2, Mr. Spock, and Lt. Laverne and Lt. Shirley

South Trek is a Canadian Star Trek fan film produced by two Canadian secondary students named Steve Clarke and Brian Wallace.

June 7, 1978 ... six Star Trek enthusiasts are perched anxiously in the edge of their chairs in the auditorium of South Secondary School, London, Ontario.

"And the winner is..."

The occasion is Film Arts Night, and the name of the best film made in the school's Film Arts course is about to be announced. The Trekkers wriggle in their seats.

"...South Trek!"

The row of silent trekkies bursts into a supernova of most un-Vulcanlike emotionalism - back slapping, weeping, laughing, crying, and cheering - as Trekker-Producers Steve Clarke and Brian Wallace make their way to the stage to claim the trophy. Before the night was out they had trekked off with the two most coveted awards: "Best Colour Film" and "Best Film Overall".

South Trek is a forty-minute colour film that was produced, edited and slaved-over by grade 13 students Steve Clark and Brian Wallace. Ruthanne Dyer and myself, Nancy Clarke, helped them out with some of the lesser tasks; costuming, make-up, scripting and directing. In our spare time (!) we four also did the acting in South Trek. Steve portrayed Mr. Spock, Brian played Scotty and Ruthanne and I created two new characters - Lts. Laverne and Shirley! The film was desinged in such a way as to poke some affectionate fun at both our favourite television show. Star Trek, and our favourite school, South Secondary.

The script was a very simple one. First, there is a Captain Kirk voice-over:

"Captain's log; Stardate 2734.2. Starfleet Command has ordered the Enterprise to violate the Prime Directive of Non-Interference to secure further Knowledge of North America's education system in the late 20th century, we are implementing the Interdimensional Time Warp Factor so that our ship may regress in time to the decade of the 1970's. Old Earth time. We hope that information gained from this expedition will help to fill the gaps of misunderstanding that have been caused by lost records of this time period. I will send a landing party consisting of First Officer Spock, Lt. Commander Montgomery Scott and Records Officers Laverne and Shirley to observe the situation and to encourage advanced teaching standards."

The landing party starts out with good intentions, but their constructive 23rd century criticism meets head-on with destructive 20th century resentment. For instance, Mr. Spock informs a Math instructor that the formula she is leaching to her class is "strewn with great defects of illogic". Before he can cover two blackboards with his "much more efficient formula", he finds it necessary to subdue the irate Math teacher with a subtle Vulcan neck-pinch...Scotty says that the dance being preformed in the Contemporary Dance class is "barbaric" and states proudly, "The only kind of dancin' is Sco'ish dancin'!" When he proceeds to demonstrate, the dance teacher is perturbed, to say the least...

Anyway, after many such offending incidents, the landing party adds insult to injury by accidentally setting off the fire alarm. This is the last straw! Teachers and students explode with fury and a mad chase ensues. The landing party finally makes a breathless escape via "emergency beam-up".

In the last scene of the film, the school's principal makes his first and only appearance in South Trek. He spins around, slowly and dramatically, in his high-backed chair and says innocently, "I don't know what everyone's so excited about...! thought they were very nice!" ...and no wonder - he's wearing pointed ears!

Although South Trek was not Roddenberry-produced, it was Roddenberry-inspired. For this reason. South Trek seemed to have inherited just a touch of the Star Trek magic - that intangible quality that seems to strike a responding chord in the human imagination. During the filming of South Trek, public curiosity appeared to be insatiable. The shooting of nearly every scene was supervised by a courteous crowd of onlookers, who hovered just out of camera range. Their repertoire of questions was seemingly inexhaustible. Many times I was asked, "Are you supposed to be Lt. O'Hura?", "Where did you get them outfits," or "Does that thing (my tricorder) really work?". Once, in response to that last question, I indulged in a ten minute explanation: of the intricate workings of my 23rd century tricorder. When the explanation, which seemed hilarious to me, was accepted in wide-eyed wonderment by the 20th century asker, I could truly see the Star Trek magic at work. At times, however, their questions proved to be a trifle irritating. Brian Wallace, as Scotty, displayed proper Scottish indignation when repeatedly asked, "Are you Captain Kirk?" Since when does Captain Kirk wear a red shirt with an Engineering insignia?

However, it was natural, predictable and quite inevitable that the spotlight of Star Trek interest was focused upon the enigmatic Mr. Spock. Wherever he went, Spock was recognized with great glee. Steve, who played Spock, felt at times that his supply of Vulcan patience was wearing thin. "If I hear one more clod say 'Hi Dr. Spock!'...!" One Spock anecdote I'll always remember was the time when Ruthanne, Steve and I were walking down the street toward the school for another filming session, trying hard to pretend that it was perfectly normal to be doing so in full Starfleet uniform. Since Ruthanne and I had just completed one of Steve's rather lengthy make-up sessions, Mr. Spock was resplendent in yellowish complexion, arched eyebrows, silvery eyeshadow and, of course, pointed ears. As we made our inconspicuous way down the street, I became aware that we were not alone. A tiny pre-schooler was playing on his front, not us?, at SPOCK! The child gazed open-mouthed as a pointy-eared Vulcan walked calmly by his house (nothing breaks up a Vulcan!). He kept on staring after Spock had passed him and was continuing on down the street. As we turned the corner, I glanced hack to see the child standing as motionless as a statue - still staring! One of the funniest incidents took place one day as our Mr. Spock was waiting outside during the preparations for an outdoor shot. A very self-assured little fellow disattached himself from the ever present mob of onlookers and swaggered up to Steve. "I know who YOU are!" the kid announced, pointing a triumphant finger at our Vulcan, "You're Leonard Shatner!"

We were delighted and surprised to have experienced a little of the Star Trek magic, we were not so delighted, and a good deal more surprised when South Trek ran into some bizarre interference that was strangely reminiscent of Star Trek's omnipresent bugbear - the censors. The trouble began innocently enough. A local reporter and Star Trek fan, Mike Mulhern, had become interested in our film. He was granted a special viewing of South Trek, and the next day, we were thrilled to death to see a short article about our film in the morning newspaper. Ruthanne and I were therefore feeling quite well-endowed in the ego department that same morning when we were both called down to the Guidance Office. Had the computer messed up our timetables again, we wondered?... but that wasn't it at all. The Guidance counsellor asked us to sit down before he posed his question:

"Have you girls seen the article about your film in the paper this morning?"

"Oh yes!" I beamed, "We were so pleased about that!"

"I'm afraid you're in a bit of trouble. Beaver Foods is in an uproar, and the phone has been rung off the hook with crank calls..."

I stopped beaming. It is humanly impossible to continue beaming whilst trying desperately to scramble together one's addled brains. Ruthanne and I exchanged totally confused glances. The counsellor then reminded us of the title of the article, "South Trek shows a certain dislike for school's fries". Beaver Foods, the food company which supplies South with french fries, chose to be deeply offended, and South's disgruntled Cafeteria staff had stopped answering their phone after the first fifteen "How come you can't make french fries?" calls. Ruthanne and I ran exasperated fingers through out hair and then looked around for a handy window from which to leap. The whole thing was too insane for belief! However, instead of window-leaping, we spent the rest of the morning apologising in triplicate (to Principal, Cafeteria Staff, and Beaver Foods) for what was simply a gross misunderstanding. The reporter had made a catchy title for his humourous article from one short and rather insignificant scene in South Trek: Lts. Laverne and Shirley contribute to the landing party's bad social standing with South students by tasting their Cafeteria french fries, disliking their taste, and subsequently phasering the food away. The students' outrage is obvious and extremely demonstrative, so, ironically, the film actually showed the South students defending the honour of the french fries! Later that day. Ruthanne and I gave a breathless recap of that incredible morning's events to South Trek's dumbfounded producers and visiting celebrity, Laurel Russwurm (President of ACT and editor of CANEKTION). Laurel's comment, "Sounds like Paramount idiocy!" was full of 23rd century insight!

Looking back on it all - all the planning, sewing, writing and rewriting, filming and refilming. and tedious editing and sound-track synchronization - we're all agreed. It was worth it! It was worth it to hear the laughter of the audience as they entered into the humour of South Trek. Thank you, Gene Roddenberry, for creating the magic and mystery of the Star Trek world - a world where dreams, like our South Trek dream - do come true! [1]


  1. by Nancy Clarke, "The Making of South Trek," from Canektion #2 (1978)