Frank Zappa Doc & Archives Call On Fans for Funds

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KEY ART Zappa courtesy of zappamoviedotcom

Courtesy of zappamoviedotcom

Update (April 6): The documentary is now the most funded one in Kickstarter history. With two days left, the project has raised more than $880,000.  See the Kickstarter link below.

Love the music of Frank Zappa? Want to help fund a documentary about his life and many creative endeavors? Would you like to own his home in the Hollywood hills? Pony up the dough – the price tag on the house is a cool $9 million – and you can do all that as filmmaker Alex Winter and the Zappa Family Trust reach out via crowdfunding to preserve the brilliant and eccentric classic rock composer and band leader’s considerable legacy.

Goal one of the campaign is to raise $500,000 of seed capital to get the authorized documentary on Zappa started (see Kickstarter page here). The funds will help catalog, preserve and restore material in the private storage vault underneath the Zappa home for use in the movie, currently titled Who The F*@% Is Frank Zappa? Rewards include a screen credit on the finished documentary, a visit to the vault and an opportunity to play one of Frank’s original guitars in a recording session at his Utility Muffin Research Kitchen studio at the Zappa house. The deadline for meeting the half-million goal is April 9. Ultimately, $2 million in funding is sought to complete the film.

Zappa amassed a vast repository of never-released media such as video, film, music, interviews, concert recordings and more over the course of his lifetime and career. It is in need of cataloging and in some cases preservation and restoration work. A “stretch goal” of up to $3 million will help detail and save the contents of the vault, unlock more new releases, and compile a hardcover companion book of unseen letters, photos, compositions and more from Frank’s visual archives. “The more we raise, the more we can save,” says Winter, “which means more material and new recordings to share with the world.”

Zappa home

Live where Zappa did and help pay for his movie and archives

Then there’s the eight-acre Zappa family Los Angeles estate and home which Frank (who passed away from cancer in 1993) and his wife/business manager Gail (who died last October) purchased in the late 1960s, and where they raised their children Moon, Dweezil, Ahmet and Diva. It’s currently up for bid on eBay. The majority of the $9 million asking price will go to the Zappa family but some of the funds will be applied to the archives and making the movie.

Ahmet Zappa, executor of the Zappa Family Trust, posted Tuesday (3/8) on Facebook to clarify that the film project and related fundraising efforts are Winter’s undertaking but do have the support of the Zappa heirs. “This is the first time we’ve ever opened the vault to someone outside of our family, but Alex is an exceptional filmmaker and storyteller, and we are excited to see him tell Frank’s story…. [T]he Zappa Family Trust will not receive any of the funds Alex raises during the Kickstarter (though if someone makes the $9 million pledge, which would obviously be awesome, a portion of that pledge will be used to purchase the house from the family at its market value).”

As Winter – who made the Napster documentary Downloaded – told The Wall Street Journal of the film he wished to make, “[I am] looking at [Zappa] as a human being who happens to make music, art, be political, his philosophical world views, the sexual politics of who he was during the sexual revolution, and being a devoted family man. These [characteristics] were very pronounced in him, and this movie is about these very polarizing cultural influences. People love him or really don’t get him at all. And that’s compelling, too.”

Zappa established himself as singular presence in the rock music world as the leader of The Mothers of Invention with the band’s debut album in 1966, Freak Out! He became classic rock’s resident iconoclast with a broad range of styles he drew from and worked in from pop to classical to jazz and progressive rock and more. He is best known for such Top 50 hits as “Valley Girl” (#32) and “Dancin’ Fool” (#45) as well as his fervent political activism as a free speech advocate and for other causes.

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