Frank Zappa Documentary to Be Directed by Alex Winter

Frank Zappa
AP Images

The late rocker owned his mustache like no other. Even the Toyota Truck logo has been compared to it.

The project, aiming for a 2017 release, has the blessing of the Zappa Family Trust.

The ground-breaking musician Frank Zappa will be the subject of a new documentary that Alex Winter is writing and directing with the cooperation of the Zappa Family Trust. He will produce the film alongside Glen Zipper, with whom Winter also worked on his most recent documentary Deep Web, about the darker corners of the Internet.

Because of the the cooperation of the Zappa Family Trust, the filmmakers — who are aiming for a 2017 release — said they will have exclusive access to the Zappa Vault, a 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."

The director added that he is not planning a standard music doc or biopic, but "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."

Gail Zappa, Zappa's widow, commented in a statement, "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." Added Zappa's son Ahmet Zappa, "This is not an easy story to tell and we trust that Alex truly understands the complex and multifaceted man that my father was."

A prolific composer and performer, Zappa released more than 65 albums and made several films in a career spanning less than 30 years before his death from prostate cancer in 1993. 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 album Dance Me This, completed by Zappa in 1993.

Winter, who famously starred with Keanu Reeves in 1989's Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, has directed two narrative features, Freaked and Fever, as well as documentaries like Downloaded, which looked at Napster's Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning.