Who The F*@% Is Frank Zappa And Why Don’t Dweezil And Moon Support Alex Winter’s Doc Project?
On March 8, 2016 erstwhile actor turned documentary filmmaker Alex Winter proclaimed the launch of a Kickstarter campaign. One month later, JamBase announced that the campaign to finance a film called Who the F*@% is Frank Zappa has exceeded all expectations, becoming the most successful fundraiser in Kickstarter history.
Alex Winter’s Kickstarter fundraiser initially sought a goal of half a million dollars to fund a documentary film about 20th century composer Frank Zappa. The campaign, which ends April 8 at 8 p.m. PDT, will deliver more than $1 million to the film project coffers.
Approximately six weeks prior to Gail Zappa’s death on October 7, 2015, Rolling Stone reported that the Zappa Family Trust had granted Alex Winters unprecedented access to the late composer’s personal archives, artifacts and ephemera. Comprising what is collectively referred to as “the vault,” the accumulated recordings, notes, correspondence, interviews, and home movies amount to a veritable treasure trove of insight into the life of the man who was Frank Zappa. About gazing upon the myriad contents of the vault for the first time, Winter told Rolling Stone the following:
“What excited me most were finding outtakes of certain films he was working on and the interviews. And there are concerts and fantastic music stuff to dive into. To create the impression of the man is daunting. Thankfully, he’s an incredibly entertaining person, so it’s certainly not going to be a boring journey.”
Frank’s widow evinced enthusiasm for the documentary project. Referring to Frank’s massive amount of memorabilia, she told Rolling Stone “I’m just relieved I don’t have to do it myself.”
Frank Vincent Zappa was many things during the course of his fifty-two years on planet Earth. Provocative and eloquent, prolific yet misunderstood by the masses, Frank Zappa is one of a rare few to whom the term “musical genius” truly applies. Frank was also the father of four exceptional children: Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet Emuukha Rodan, and Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen Zappa. Of the four, Ahmet, who took over as primary custodian of the Zappa vault last year, and baby sister Diva have offered public support of Winter’s proposed film project.
So, why are Dweezil and Moon Unit tweeting things like:
For those of you contacting me about the Zappa kickstarter – for clarification again, I have no involvement with it whatsoever.
— Dweezil Zappa (@DweezilZappa) April 7, 2016
— Moon Zappa (@MoonZappa) April 7, 2016
According to an April 6 tweet by Moon, Frank’s oldest kid, her “two baby siblings were left in charge of the ZFT,” and she and Dweezil, (the second-oldest) were not consulted, nor were they included in the decision to allow Winter access to their father’s lifetime collection. While Gail was alive, the family turned down proposals by numerous would-be Zappa documentarians.
— Rolling Stone (@RollingStone) April 7, 2016
From the time of Frank Zappa’s death by prostate cancer in 1993 to her own demise in 2015, Adelaide Gail Sloatman Zappa fiercely protected her dead husband’s legacy. More than a few critics considered her to be harshly withholding. Gail removed Zappa music from YouTube and forbade tribute bands (including ones that featured Frank’s band mates) performance rights. She did her best to force the annual Zappanale festival to change its name, but lost that battle when a court in Germany denied her demand to cease and desist. To her credit, the Los Angeles Times noted that Mrs. Zappa also facilitated the posthumous release of nearly 40 original Frank Zappa albums.
— NME (@NME) April 8, 2016
For those unfamiliar with Kickstarter, here’s how it works: first, the Kickstarter creator describes their project and sets a financial goal as well as a deadline for achieving that goal. Then the project creator spreads the news of their fundraising campaign. Interested “backers” pledge a monetary amount and give their credit card billing info to Kickstarter. If the stated financial goal is met by the deadline of the campaign, Kickstarter charges cards and the funds, minus a processing fee, is forwarded to the project creator. The all-or-nothing crowdfund platform helps artists, musicians, playwrights, filmmakers, and other creative types to complete projects they might not otherwise be able to afford.
PS: If the name Alex Winter rings a bell, it could be due to his starring roles in 1987’s The Lost Boys and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure in 1989.
[Photo by STR/AP Images]