SAVE THE VAULT. TELL THE STORY. Join me to preserve Frank Zappa’s private archives and make the definitive documentary about his life.
About this project
We really suggest watching the video above. It’s faster, easier, and more fun than reading this whole page.
Frank Zappa lived an insane life. Rock star. Artist. Composer. Activist. Talking head. Family man. Jokester. Absurdist. One of the greatest musicians who ever lived. Even if you don’t know anything about him, you’ve probably heard his name and seen his face.
And now, for the first time, we have something no one has ever had:
Unrestricted access to his never-before-explored, private archives.
We’re at the brink of unlocking thousands of hours of unreleased footage, and hundreds of boxes of tape, and unnameable other stuff that has been literally locked away under the Zappa family home like a time capsule since Frank’s death in 1993.
It’s time to tell Frank’s DEFINITIVE STORY, like it’s never been told, and to bring some of this unseen material into the world.
Waiting inside the Vault, there’s more material than we could ever fit in a single film. That’s why, if we can raise enough, we actually have three goals for this project:
1. Make the DEFINITIVE DOCUMENTARY.
Using what we uncover in the Vault, and with a ton of exclusive interviews, we’ll be able to make the first all-access, fully-authorized Frank Zappa documentary. And the more we raise, the more we can save, and the faster we can get Frank’s full story into the world:
- If we raise $500K, we’ll have enough to get started immediately.
- If we raise $1MM, we’ll have enough to shoot the entire movie.
- If we raise $2MM, we’ll have enough to finish the entire movie.
2. Share UNRELEASED MATERIALS.
I’m not sure what we’ll find in the Vault, but for every $500K we raise – up to our full goal of $3MM – I promise to share, ideally, as much as an hour of new material, be that clips of interviews, concert audio, unreleased music, scraps of video… We have no idea what we’ll find in there, but we’re excited to share our journey of finding out!
3. Create a COMPANION BOOK.
Frank wasn’t just an iconic rock star — he was also a pioneer filmmaker (from video to claymation), a collage artist, a graphic designer who did many of his own album covers, and a revered experimental composer.
Aside from correspondence, contracts, photographs, sheet music, notebooks, and other weird visual ephemera, we’re excited to share some of Frank’s never-before-seen artwork, video stills, and more in a f*@&ing beautiful hardcover companion book.
But here’s the thing:
We can’t do ANY OF THIS without YOU.
Before we can use any of the material in the Vault, we have to access it, catalog it, find the best stuff, digitize and preserve it, and then edit it. And all of that takes time, money and patience.
That’s why we’re asking all of Frank’s fans to get involved, and to help us get this done now. Most of the contents of the Vault exist in OLD, OBSOLETE and AGING MEDIA FORMATS: tape, film, video, paper, and other outdated forms of media that are deteriorating even as we speak.
If we don’t work fast, this won’t just be our first chance to see what’s in the Vault… it might also be our last chance.
For those of you who decide to join me, save the Vault, and help tell Frank’s story, I’ve got good news: you’ll get a lot more than the satisfaction of helping preserve Frank’s legacy.
Whether you just want to follow along, or want a once-in-a-lifetime Zappa experience, we’ve got you covered with a ton of great, exclusive rewards, including…
- TRACKS 10 & UP: A FRONT ROW SEAT to follow along as I start exploring the Vault. I have no idea what we’ll find, but I know it’ll be crazy… and that I want to share the experience with you guys!
- TRACKS 25 & UP: A DIGITAL VAULT PASS, granting you exclusive access to a backers-only archive of downloadable material selected from what I find in the Vault. And remember: the more we raise, the more we can save, and the more you’ll get to see, hear and keep!
- TRACKS 35 & UP: THE DOCUMENTARY that you’re helping make, available as a digital download (Tracks 35+) and in a Collector’s Edition DVD or BLU-RAY (Tracks 150+), packed with bonus material and limited edition packaging.
- TRACKS 50 & UP: EXCLUSIVE WTFIFZ MERCH, featuring new artwork created just for this Kickstarter campaign, and never available again! It’s like a killer concert merch table, without ever leaving home! Rewards include T-SHIRTS (Track 50+), POSTERS (Track 125+) and more.
And with the help of Frank’s family and friends, we’ve got some incredible, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and rewards for true Zappa fans:
- TRACKS 1500 & 2500: OWN FRANK’S STUFF. The Zappas have generously allowed us to offer a very limited number of items from Frank’s private collection, including original filmstrips from the Vault and a few of his personal possessions.
- TRACK 6000: EXPLORE FRANK’S VAULT. You’ll get a private tour of the legendary Joe’s Garage and the relocated Vault from me and Ahmet Zappa. Be the first person to see some of the unreleased material, then discuss it over a private lunch with me and my producing partner, Glen Zipper.
- TRACK 7500: RECORD WITH FRANK’S GUITAR. Come play Frank’s guitar for a private recording session with Joe “Vaultmeister” Travers at the legendary Joe’s Garage.
Or, the ULTIMATE ZAPPA REWARD – so absurd and expensive that we’re not even allowed to offer it through Kickstarter:
THE ZAPPA FAMILY HOUSE.
For $9MM, you’ll get every reward listed on this page and the Zappas will give you permanent ownership of Frank’s Hollywood mansion.
We know, this is a lot to take in. If you want to know more…
- Read the rest of this page.
- Check out our growing FAQ.
- Send us a message here on Kickstarter or email us.
Plus, we’ll add more to this page, and be sending updates, all month long. Be sure to check back and check the UPDATES section!
If you do know Frank Zappa, you may know him as a totally famous, hilarious, outsider rock star.
Or, as a brilliant, genre-bending, experimental composer.
It’s possible you know him as a pioneer filmmaker in the mediums of video and claymation, a collage artist, or a comic so unpredictable that he was banned from Saturday Night Live.
Others remember Zappa as a political thought leader who founded the Rock The Vote campaign, testified before congress against censorship regulations, helped reconstruct the cultural identity of Czechoslovakia after a civil revolution, and, rumor has it, entered presidential race in 1993, shortly before his life was taken by prostate cancer.
But even at 52, he’d already released 60 albums (and there were 42 more posthumously), had four kids… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Frank Zappa was one of the most prolific artists of our time, and rows upon rows of floor-to-ceiling stacks of tape, video clips, film footage, and more, have been locked away under the historic Zappa house in the Hollywood Hills since Frank’s death in 1993.
No one has ever heard or seen the vast majority of this material, much less cataloged it, and it is literally crumbling against time in the Zappa’s private archive: a massive underground storage chamber known as “The Vault.”
By backing this campaign, you’ll help us digitize and preserve (!) these archives for use in this documentary — not to mention for limited, gradual release and distribution, and the enjoyment of Zappa fans for generations to come. The more we raise, the more of Frank’s unexplored archives we can save.
I’m an actor / director, and in the last few years I’ve made two other documentaries about cultural influencers; Downloaded (about Napster) and Deep Web (about the hidden Internet). I’ve been a big fan of Frank Zappa’s music my whole life, but it took some time to realize that in addition to being a singular artist, he’s flat-out one of the most brilliant, hilarious, wild and fascinating renaissance men of the century.
Shortly before she died, his widow Gail gave me unprecedented access to Frank’s life (and Vault), and her blessing to make the first all-access doc about Frank — a one-of-a-kind honor. For this project, I’ll be interviewing everyone I can who had any kind of connection to Frank, and painstakingly going through the Vault to preserve and archive the stuff I think tells Frank’s untold story best.
As a documentary producer who’s had the privilege of working on a diverse slate of films including Undefeated, All Things Must Pass, Deep Web, The Last Play at Shea, The Nightmare, and Foo Fighters: Back and Forth, one of the questions I am asked most is, “If you could make any documentary you wanted to do, what would it be?” My answer has always been the same, “The definitive, no-holds barred Frank Zappa doc.” Last year someone finally asked me a follow-up question that I should’ve already asked myself: “What’s stopping you?” And that, my friends, is where our journey began.
It’s been a whirlwind for Alex and I ever since, working every day to lay the foundation of everything we need to make this dream possible. Now, together with you, I want to make a film that is not only a worthy historical document of Frank’s remarkable legacy, but also a kick-ass cinematic experience that no one will ever be able to put in a traditional documentary box.
Joe is not only a musician who’s been playing with the Zappas (and other incredible bands) since the early ’90s; he’s also the “Vaultmeister” — keeper of Frank’s archives, and expert on all things FZ. He has been the lone guardian of the Vault’s material for years, chipping away at cataloguing and preserving what he can as well as co-producing the FZ delicacies released by the Zappa Family Trust.
Risks and challenges
We’re still writing this part, so check back this afternoon for the full version… but rest assured, we’re confident that if we can raise our minimum goal of $500K, we’ll be able to get started immediately saving The Vault and telling Frank’s complete story.
Los Angeles, CA
Alex Winter entered show business as a child actor on Broadway and came to prominence in movies such as Warner Bros’ hit THE LOST BOYS and the wildly popular BILL AND TED franchise. Winter has directed three narrative features: cult classic FREAKED for 20th Century Fox; FEVER, for Lionsgate, which screened at Cannes; and SMOSH: THE MOVIE, which opened in 2015 as the #1 comedy on iTunes.
Winter’s TV credits range from MTV’s THE IDIOT BOX to Emmy-nominated work for Cartoon Network, as well as numerous commercials and music videos. Winter is the recipient of the Charles Guggenheim award for his directing work.
Winter’s VH1 Rock Doc DOWNLOADED has earned nationwide critical acclaim at theatrical and festival screenings. Winter’s latest, award-winning documentary DEEP WEB, had a critically acclaimed world premiere at SXSW and a broadcast premiere in the U.S. on the Epix network. The film went wide on September, 2015, opening as the #1 documentary on iTunes. Winter is now making the definitive documentary on Frank Zappa, with exclusive access from the Zappa Family Trust.