Alex Winter Begins Production On Definitive Frank Zappa Documentary
First-Ever Authorized, All-Access Film About Legendary Artist
Los Angeles, CA – (July 22, 2015) 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 wright. 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.”
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.
Access to the this release and images, here.
Alex Winter: Writer, Director, Producer
Winter has directed two narrative features: cult classic FREAKED for 20th Century Fox and FEVER, which screened at Cannes. His TV credits range from MTV’s THE IDIOT BOX, two Emmy-nominated Ben 10 films, the debut feature film for YouTube sensations SMOSH as well as numerous commercials and music videos.
Winter’s VH1 Rock Doc DOWNLOADED world-premiered at SXSW. The documentary featuring Napster’s Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning has earned nationwide critical acclaim at theatrical and festival screenings, including “Fascinating”—The New York Times; “Incisive”—Entertainment Weekly; and "So relevant to today’s tech industry it’s unnerving"—WIRED. The film is available to stream on Netflix and AOL and made its VH1 debut in 2014. Winter's award-winning documentary DEEP WEB had a critically acclaimed world premiere at SXSW and is now airing in the U.S. on the Epix network, to be followed by a worldwide release on all platforms in the fall of 2015. Finally, Winter directed SMOSH: THE MOVIE, a feature-length adaptation of the YouTube sensations’ antics premiering Wednesday, July 22, followed by a digital release Friday July 25.
Glen Zipper: Producer
In addition to producing the Academy Award®-winning documentary UNDEFEATED, Glen recently produced DEEP WEB with Alex Winter and the non-fiction horror film THE NIGHTMARE for director Rodney Ascher (ROOM 237), which premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival.
Glen also produced the soon to be released A FASTER HORSE for director David Gelb (JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI), and executive produced the upcoming film ALL THINGS MUST PASS, Colin Hanks’ directorial debut exploring the story of Tower Records and its larger than life founder Russ Solomon.
Glen is currently producing THE UNTITLED HERBALIFE DOCUMENTARY for director Ted Braun (DARFUR NOW), and his prior credits include Billy Joel’s THE LAST PLAY AT SHEA, the Grammy Award®-winning FOO FIGHTERS BACK AND FORTH and the Formula 1 documentary ONE narrated by Michael Fassbender. Glen was also the Executive in Charge of Production on Martin Scorsese’s Emmy Award®-winning GEORGE HARRISON: LIVING IN THE MATERIAL WORLD.