Hot on the heels of his critically acclaimed Silk Road doc Deep Web, feature and documentary director Alex Winter now turns his attention to the life of iconoclastic musician and thinker, Frank Zappa. Winter will write and direct the film and will produce alongside Glen Zipper, with whom Winter worked on Deep Web.
Winter is adamant that the film is not a standard music doc or biopic, but instead “an epic saga of a great American artist and thinker; a major event worthy of the scope of Zappa’s prodigious and varied creative output, and the breadth of his personal and political life.” He adds, “There has yet to be a definitive, authorized documentary on the extraordinary life and work of Frank Zappa. I am beyond thrilled to be embarking on this journey.”
Via the Zappa Family Trust, the filmmakers have exclusive access to the Zappa Vault; a vast collection of unseen visual and audio recordings, in addition to previously released video clips, interviews and concert recordings, with Winter noting that “our tale will be told primarily in Frank’s own words; he will be our guide through this journey.”
Zappa’s widow Gail Zappa says, “We couldn’t be happier to be working with Alex, an extraordinary filmmaker in his own right. With an advanced degree in Perfect Timing and a shared respect for “conceptual continuity,” we feel it is our duty. We also like his attitudinal position – Gravity and Humor go a long way with us.”
Zappa’s son Ahmet Zappa adds, “This is not an easy story to tell and we trust that Alex truly understands the complex and multi-faceted man that my father was.”
“We couldn’t be happier to be working with Alex, an extraordinary filmmaker in his own right.”
With such a monumental trove of archival material, music, art and film, Winter expects the doc to be finished in time for release sometime in 2017.
Frank Zappa was a self-taught composer, arranger and producer and pushed the envelopes of rock, jazz, orchestral and musique concrète genres, in addition to producing and directing films and designing many album covers. A true renaissance man, he began composing classical music in high school, and has cited his influences as being extremely broad, saying in The Real Frank Zappa Book: “Since I didn’t have any kind of formal training, it didn’t make any difference to me if I was listening to Lightnin’ Slim, or a vocal group called the Jewels …, or Webern, or Varèse, or Stravinsky. To me it was all good music.”
An extraordinarily prolific composer and performer, Zappa released more than 65 albums and made several films in a career spanning less than 30 years, as his life was cut short by prostate cancer in 1993. Zappa tested the farthest reaches of music, comedy, visual arts and “good” taste, combining virtuosity, experimentation, social commentary and a flair for the bizarre that influenced countless other artists and performers. He was named by Rolling Stone magazine as #71 on its list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” and #22 on its list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” The Zappa Family Trust recently released the 100th album, completed by FZ in 1993, Dance Me This.
Author: Buddy Iahn
Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites.