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Our Kickstarter has ended, but you'll still be able to join us to help save the Vault & tell Frank's story. Check back soon for more details!
Our Kickstarter has ended, but you'll still be able to join us to help save the Vault & tell Frank's story. Check back soon for more details!
8,688 backers pledged $1,126,036 to help bring this project to life.

FIFTY/FIFTY: Half-way to our first goal! Answers about the House, Zappa involvement & the Vault.

Posted by Alex Winter (Creator)

Hola, Freaks!

First things first: Holy Flipping Moley, we just passed $250,000.

That means that it only took us three days (!!!) to raise 50% of our first goal.

You guys rock so hard.... seriously. Now, let’s get down to business, shall we?

Like I said in the last update: I know you've got a lot of questions, and I want to answer as many as I possibly can, as quickly as I can. I'll be working on more answers today, and we'll be posting a lot of new FAQs this weekend.

But today, there are three big topics I want to cover:

1. What's the deal with the Zappa House?

First, there have been a ton of questions about the fact that we're offering the Zappa House as a pledge reward. (Which is bananas, so of course there are questions.)

Here's what's going on, in a nutshell:

After Frank passed in 1993, Gail continued to live in their house, managing the Zappa Family Trust (ZFT) and estate. I met with Gail in early 2015 to discuss this project, and after hearing a full outline of how I wanted to tell Frank's story, she was the one who gave me full access to the Vault, and her blessing to make this movie and create a crowdfunding campaign. (If you want more details, all of this is public record.)

Very sadly, Gail passed away a few months ago, and it came time to sell the house. Frank's kids have all grown up, and have their own homes and lives, so the decision was made to sell the house.

When I heard that the house would be going up for sale, I immediately had a different idea: if the house had to be sold, maybe we could offer it to die-hard Zappa fans first, before putting it on the general market, and have a better the chance of the home ending up with someone who would appreciate how special it is.

If we were able to "sell" the house as part of this campaign, we'd be able to pay the Zappa Family Trust for the market value of the home and get the funds we need to save the Vault and tell Frank's story. And the house would end up with a fan: a win-win-win!

So, that's how it all happened. If you've still got more questions about the house, check our Kickstarter page next week for more FAQs.

2. How are the Zappas involved in this? Are they all involved?

We’ve also been getting a lot of totally valid inquiries about the Zappas' role in the Kickstarter, the movie, the preservation of the Vault, etc. So, I want to clear that up too.

Here are a few things you should know:

  • Gail offered me full access to the Vault and her blessing. Last year, I approached Gail Zappa with a proposal to make this doc, and to use unreleased material from the Vault. After hearing what I wanted to do, she gave me full permission and her blessing… as well as several days of her time for new interviews.
  • I'm making the movie with the permission of the Zappa Family Trust. When Gail passed, control of the Zappa Family Trust went to the four children. Ahmet Zappa is overseeing the trust, so he's the Zappa I am dealing with most closely at the moment. But I have spoken to all four Zappa offspring, and am keeping them completely informed about every move I make on this thing, because I want them – and all of you – to understand how seriously I take this responsibility.
  • The Zappas are supporting this project, but they don't control the movie. This is a really important point to understand: Gail, and the Zappa Family Trust, have given me full permission to use the contents of the Vault, and I'm hoping all four Zappa kids will also let me interview them for the movie, but the Zappas do not have control over the documentary itself. That was part of the agreement I reached with Gail, and fortunately, she thought it was just as important as I did. It's the best thing for everyone: me, the family, and everyone watching the film. As a filmmaker, I would never be comfortable making a documentary that I didn't have final cut on, and if the Zappas had creative control over the project, it would be very hard to tell a complete, impartial story. So we – me and my team – have final control over the project, and they – The Zappa Family Trust – continue to control the Vault and the Zappa estate. As it should be. :)

3. What is going on with the Vault?

Finally, a lot of you have sent in very specific questions relating to the Vault, such as: Why aren't the Zappas just saving the Vault on their own? What exactly is down there? And what state is all of that material in?

And here's the problem: we don't completely know, yet. As a lot of you are aware, Joe "Vaultmeister" Travers has been working for the family and taking care of the Vault for years, but it's a mammoth undertaking. There's an enormous amount of material, and so far, Joe has focused on reviewing, preserving and helping prepare unreleased audio, but there's way more than anyone can handle by themselves, and the recordings that are most likely to be released are just a fraction of what's down there. Joe is a genius, and works harder than anyone I've ever met, but it's far too big a job for him – or the Zappas – to handle on their own.

And while it's true that the Zappas have an ongoing deal to release new albums and recordings through Universal, that still leaves a ton of material with incredible historical value – the stuff that's important to fans, but takes time and money to preserve. And so far, no foundations or museums have stepped in with the resources to help save and preserve it.

Given enough time, the Zappas would do their best to preserve everything... but here's the thing: we have an opportunity to work together and to get it done now, before anything else is lost to time. 

The missing recordings, the home movies, the journals, the interviews… that's the stuff I want to share with you, and include in the movie. That's the stuff that'll let us tell Frank's story. That's the stuff I'm asking you to help me save before it's too late.

Less talk, more Frank!

One more thing: so far, these updates have been all about the Kickstarter, and behind-the-scenes explanations, and a lot of other details. And believe me, it's important to me to answer your questions and share all of those details, but it's not the good part of this whole campaign.

The good part is getting to bring together a community of fans who appreciate – or want to discover – Frank's life, music, and personality. I want to use these updates to remind us of what we all have in common, and make them a place where we can share great Zappa stories, songs and memories, and enjoy them together. 

That's why, starting now, I want to initiate something I'm calling FRANK FRIDAYS. Every Friday for the rest of this campaign – and hopefully throughout this entire experience  – I'll try to send you a weekly dose of Zappa, which'll include some extra special shit about the life and times of Frank.

Of course, that'll be a lot easier once I start digging into the Vault, and find all kinds of things we've never seen before. Since we haven't started yet, I don't have a lot of new stuff to share, so I'd like to use the updates this month to share some of my favorite Frank stories, discoveries and facts – and to ask about yours.

For our first FRANK FRIDAY, I thought you guys might dig getting an actual walk through the UMRK with the Vaultmeister himself, Joe Travers. And actually, unless a fan swoops in, buys the house, turns it into a museum, and helps the Zappa family keep everything intact, this is one of the last looks we’ll ever get at the UMRK before everything in it gets moved to a new space, where the Zappas are recreating Frank's recording studio. 

(By the way, don’t forget to check out Track 7500, if you want to be one of the first people to record in the relocated studio, with Vaultmeister Joe producing you!)

One more thing: this clip is super lo-fi and super rough, so the actual documentary we’re making won't look anything like this. This is just a video I shot one-on-one with Joe so I could get it out to you guys as fast as possible:


So there you go: our first #FrankFriday.

After the campaign ends, these kinds of updates will be exclusive to our Kickstarter backers, but for now, we want to make sure everyone has a chance to join in. So, feel free to share this far and wide with other Zappa freaks you know. 

Have a kick-ass weekend, and keep spreading the word... I've got a couple big new ideas in mind to keep things exciting, and as soon as we hit our first goal at $500K, I'll have some new announcements for you.


Alex Winter


It's easy! Just post this message on Facebook, Twitter, or spread the word to your Zappa freak friends:

Want details on Zappa's Vault/house? Check out @zappamovie Update #2 for answers, news + a tour of the UMRK! #WTFIFZ

Andrew Dorphley, Andy Action, and 43 more people like this update.


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    1. Missing avatar

      Chris Latta on

      @ Ian The "Vault" is part of the deal but, not its contents. From what I gather, it will be moved to another location soon as archiving continues.

    2. Missing avatar

      Ian Paige Blouin on

      If you're selling the house, what happens to the vault under it?

    3. Missing avatar

      Dino DiMuro on

      Video quality was great! PLEASE find some Trout Mask or other Beeheart material! Rumor has it that every song on TMR was recorded twice.

    4. Missing avatar

      Dino DiMuro on

      Video quality was great! PLEASE find some Trout Mask or other Beeheart material! Rumor has it that every song on TMR was recorded twice.

    5. Chris Sharrock on

      Good stuff Joe & Alex ,more would be appreciated by Zappaholic's everywhere.I am very happy to be a very small part of this amazing thing. I am listening to Joe's Garage and I am very content !.Come on F.Z. fans , get behind this awesome thing.

    6. Missing avatar

      Chris Latta on

      Great video ! Thanks for that and god bless Joe ! This is really exciting. I'm so stoked to be a part of this !

    7. Missing avatar

      Doug Mitchell on

      Great video tour of the UMRK. I'm curious to learn what records I can hear that awesome echo chamber on. Thanks! Music is the best.