UPDATED, 1:13 PM: Who The F*@% Is Frank Zappa, which has become the highest-funded documentary film in Kickstarter’s history, has a final tally: $1,126,036 from 8,688 backers. Outside of Kickstarter, Alex Winter collected another $91K to push the final to $1.2M. The funds will be used to mount a documentary film about the life of the composer as well as to preserve the Zappa archives as well.
PREVIOUSLY: The story of Frank Zappa — the acerbic, wise, unconventional composer-singer with an activist’s heart and tongue — just ended up becoming the biggest-funded documentary in Kickstarter’s history by grabbing $880K and climbing steadily. That puts it well past its goal of $500K. The project is being directed by Alex Winter of (dare I say it?) Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. He’s directed other docus: Downloaded and Deep Web.
Who The F*@% Is Frank Zappa today surpassed last year’s Bill Nye Film project (aka The Science Guy), which collected $859K+ from 16,850 backers, as the highest-funded documentary. The Zappa project, however, has 6,100+ backers. The film documentary was given the go ahead from the Zappa family and they have given Winter access to the Zappa “vault.”
Zappa was as outspoken about politics, the government, and cancer-causing products the FDA approved and pushed out to consumers as he was about rock n’ roll. He would appear on CNN and ABC’s Nightline and other news programs; journalists loved him because he wasn’t afraid to speak the truth (kind of an anti-Trump), but he hosted Saturday Night Live only once in 1978 and wasn’t invited back after he rubbed the cast the wrong way.
The controversial musician always pushed the boundaries of what was socially acceptable — for instance, having his picture taken while sitting on a toilet which he allowed a photographer to take and publish on an article about him. The very quotable Zappa once said that the image became so iconic that he was “probably more famous for sitting on the toilet than anything else that I do.”
Zappa was heavily influenced by other experimental composers such as Edgar Varese, John Cage, and Harry Partch. Composer Pierre Boulez also collaborated with Zappa in 1974 to bring three of the musician’s pieces to orchestration.
Zappa died in 1993 from cancer at age 52. The filmmaker hopes to save the Zappa archives as well.