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 Post subject: Pitch for Zappa bio-pic
PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2011 3:01 am 
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Check this out, I believe it is the second of the 50 questions:

On Nov 18, 2010, at 11:08 AM, Frank Luca wrote:

Subject: Re: Has anyone…

Hello Gail:

Has anyone ever approached you about making a movie on Frank’s life? Not a documentary.

I know the “Hollywood” types would look at such an undertaking from a pure ROI perspective, “but I for one care less for them”. Seriously though, I think a movie on the “story” of Frank’s life goes way beyond his musical genius, and although it may not broad main street appeal, “it is this reporter’s opinion”, that there is definitely a large “cult” of loyal FZ fans who would welcome such a movie. My “opinion” is based on the large number of younger people I have seen at the ZPZ shows. I have been to a few shows and was surprised at how many young people were in attendance. And then there’s Europe. I have been a fan of Frank’s for many, many, many years, not only his music, but also his “take” on several social and political issues. There are very few opinions that Frank stated that I disagreed with. However, he did offer one opinion he did give in one of his final interviews on the Today Show in which he said, “it’s not important to be remembered”. The very people Frank sited, Reagan, Bush, etc, YES, those are the guys that need NOT be remembered. But in Frank’s case, I strongly disagree. He was truly one of a kind! And NEEDS to be remembered! Thank you, Dweezil and the rest of the “ZPZ” folks that obviously share my opinion.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Regards,

Frank



Frank Luca


Gail answered:

Yes. On both – Hollywood and Documentary. Yes he did say that it is not important to be remembered – to him – and that among the people for whom it is VERY important to be remembered are Reagan and Bush. I would add that there are whole industries with government financial support to make sure that they are remembered in very particular ways.

Thanks for your comments.



I found some interesting ideas in there, and would certainly be interested in a long in-depth documentary about Zappa. To be satisfying to fans like us, it would probably have to be about 6-8 hours long, and made in a much more idiosyncratic and artistic way than the chopped interviews/soundbites style of the Apostrophe/OS Dvd. A real Frank Zappa film should be on line with the work in many unforeseeable ways, and would need a director with a penetrating vision, and of course understanding of Zappa. A successful film of this kind should be an artwork on its own, but not in any obvious artsy-fartsy hesitant way. It should hit hard, long and deep.

A drama/bio-pic on the same subject would necessarily have to be very different. I think the film would suffer if it tried to cover Zappa's entire life. Most often, artist biographies are interesting in the beginning, when the character is growing, often through some kind of suffering (cf. Jeff Simmons!). There's a struggle to a breakthrough, but from then on, the life is more often than not sailing into calmer, plainer waters, and the biography becomes a dull rhapsody of achievements. There are exceptions, but this is a general pattern which is rather common. In the case of Zappa, a documentary will always find fascinating new material in the work and a developing philosophy, right up until the end. But I think it's safe to say that the drama of Zappa's life follows the pattern of the ultimately successful artist - there are more conflicts, growth and other stuff of general interest in the beginning than later. Of course you could make a drama out of a slice of life, like the London years around 200 Motels, with the creation of the film and music, and ensuing court case because of the cancelled concert. Zappa's later years and demise have a melancholy and pathetic interest, and could be material for beautiful and painful art. But I still think that in terms of a Hollywood bio-pic, the early years are more interesting. So my pitch for that would be a film about the Lancaster years, the inner workings of the Zappa family, father's occupations, mother's religiosity, playing with mercury balls in dust, interest in science and music, rhythm 'n' blues, drums, friendships, Donnie Vliet, discovery of Varese, the early Cucamonga years, Paul Buff, Studio Z - and finally climaxing on the FBI set-up of sex tape order, bust and incarceration. The ten days in tank C, San Ber'dino, form the last sequence of the film, jail experiences and reflections on all the disparate influences that have shaped him thus far, and a definitely critical view on society at large, which is highlighted by the hypocrisy of the FBI set-up. I don't know if it's true to history, but I imagine that he takes a shave after he's done his time, and it's only then that the characteristic moustache and genghis appear. End credits with some poignant Zappa music and lyrics.

That's my two-bits. How about you?

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2011 5:55 am 
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don't forget montreaux!

who would play him? adrian brody? the kid from social network? :mrgreen:

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2011 6:20 am 
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manichispanic wrote:
don't forget montreaux!

who would play him? adrian brody? the kid from social network? :mrgreen:


Hell, yeah - the 1971 tour with the Montreux and Rainbow theatre incidents could be a really juicy feature!

Actually there are quite a lot of people who look like the young Zappa, in Italy, Spain, the Arabic world and India - so you could surely find someone with talent and the right looks at least for the early years without the facial hair 8)

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2011 1:46 pm 
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An in-depth doc would be most welcome. Something like the recent Monty Python documentary which is about 8 hrs long I think or something along the lines of what Ken Burns does.

As for a bio-pic, yeah I guess I'd like to see somebody give it a try, but the odds of something like that coming out good are pretty low I think. Maybe Sasha Baron Cohen could play Frank after he's done playing Freddie Mercury. :)


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2011 8:53 am 
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KillUgly wrote:
An in-depth doc would be most welcome. Something like the recent Monty Python documentary which is about 8 hrs long I think or something along the lines of what Ken Burns does.

As for a bio-pic, yeah I guess I'd like to see somebody give it a try, but the odds of something like that coming out good are pretty low I think. Maybe Sasha Baron Cohen could play Frank after he's done playing Freddie Mercury. :)



I thought the same thing...Docu = Ken Burns, as to actors for a movie the older Frank would be the British actor from the series Deadwood (good actor & a ringer with the right facial hair).


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2011 2:36 pm 
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I can't imagine this will happen, unless a director wants to give total control over his decisions to the ZFT. Or maybe something unauthorized.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2011 8:12 pm 
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calvin2hikers wrote:
I can't imagine this will happen, unless a director wants to give total control over his decisions to the ZFT. Or maybe something unauthorized.



Well they did that movie about the senate hearings and due to ZFT not wanting it done or participating in it they had to really reach to get the FZ character to sound like Frank without qouting him.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 10:56 am 
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As far as a doc goes, whoever did "The Mothers in the '60's" did a fairly good job (without the ZFT) and the Apostrophe/ONS classic albums dvd was really good (w/ the ZFT). I think the ZFT could get onboard with something like this. It would be so sweet with all the goodies they could provide from the vault. On the classic albums dvd, Gail and Moon, seemed quite open about talking about Frank's "lust for groupies" which you might think would be a sensitive topic.


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PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 3:17 pm 
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HI,

This could be tough and the ZFT folks might not like it ... let's see if we can say something right here.

From experience, with a famous dad in the literary world, the documentary makes sense ... unffortunately Mr. Burns is a corporate kisser (has to be or he gets no funds!) and I seriously doubt he can do something that is not exactly the "american mainstream" that is his nature in the stuff he does.

The movie. I doubt that anyone could possibly do this and make it worth while and an interesting movie. Except if I was directing, because I cenrtainly share the same anti this and that sentiments and I have no qualms supporting Frank putting down the guitar and conducting the band instead ... which I probably would add a nice comment and wording and tell some fan off or stop the band and ask that fan to leave the hall right now or we won't play again tonight, the concert is over, and it is your fault! When you learn to have respect for an artist, then come back and talk to me! And if I was in the audience I would start a chant for that fan to leave!

The problem with a person such as he, is that he will come off like every big dick rock star out there at this time, and I am not sure that we would be capable of taking him away from that and showing him studying his more serious side and figuring out how to do something with the tapes, and the cuts and what not! ... that stuff is very visual on its own, and doing this in film will make the film very boring and ... unattractive for most people.

Check out a film that hit the Festival scnes ... 32 Shorts something or other Glenn Gould ... and then go read the reviews ... it got killed and no one saw it. I happened to have liked it, because it gave a very nice snapshot of a composer working ... but you really think that Gail, Dweezil and the Hollywood audience that likes Jack Sparrow and Iron Man is going to sit through it and ... not say ... who the fuck does he think he is? ... and go rent out the next X-Men film! Or there was a film several years back, Jacques Rivette's La Belle Noiseusse, which had a hand paint a piece of work for several hours, and basically took us from the sketch of th emodel to a full blown 10 foot wide 5 foot high painting and we saw it get done ... unffortunately half the audience thought it was boring and the brush strokes, the touches, the feelings, the ... was amazing ... it was total beauty and insane ... you could not possibly have a better description of what it is to be an "artist" ... but most people here would not be interested!

The best, and most likely to happen at this time, and within the foreseeable future (ohh my!!!), would be for folks to write something about/with/on the side stories and Frank would be a nice side addition to that film ... which could show a performer that stands out above most others anywhere.

The one story that would be perfect for this, is the one that is already fucked over and probably so screwed up that it will not be worth seeing, and written and shown with a mentality that belongs in the 25 cent peep rooms! ... these would be Pam's 2 first books, both of which are incredibly gigantic and quite big, on the things happening on the Zappa house, which I am sure that she can speak for fairly well, and probably embarass Gail, while at it, or at least ... who knows? ... but I think that Pam's books are incendiary, because so many of those folks are alive, and I am not sure that Don Johnson, wants to allow his name to be mentioned, for example, which will hurt the story and its validity! But I seriously doubt that Pam is a serial liar, and that a lot of the stuff she wrote was filler to tell us that she was in love with Robert Plant only!

I really think that Pam needs to come clean. She has hidden the republishing of the 2nd book, probably because some of the famous names have hit her hard, and she needs to unload those names and that crap. Those people need to learn to live with their own faults and errors and screwed up images!

But, here, I'm not sure Gail, wants to have a part in it. Pam made it look like Gail and Frank's house was one of the best rehab drug and drink centers with some amazing names coming through it, but Gail has never said anything, and she might feel embarassed so tell us that she did her part for the portion of the whole thing that was fucked up in the first place? That would suggest that Gail was an abuse'r too?

It's weird, and the more silence and image building that gets done, the worse it will get.

This "image", is what will hurt the artistic life of the man, more than anything else. The music is a result of the man and his life and views, and when you hide some of it, you distort the view and understanding of the work.

As I said before, Gail and ZFT, that is not my call. That is yours, and I accept it whole-heartedly. But from my experience, and knowledge? ... it hurts more than it helps. There is nothing better out there, anywhere, than the truth ... it's weight? Much better than gold! It's spirit? It shines as good as the most spiritual of all things you have ever seen! ...

Good luck and love be with you. But I don't think you will read this at all! Because I'm a nobody!


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PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 4:12 pm 
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I seem to think that those , even in the public life they may live , would like to keep their private lives just that..... private
:|

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PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 4:32 pm 
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pedro2 wrote:
I seem to think that those , even in the public life they may live , would like to keep their private lives just that..... private
:|


Which is almost impossible and even in "law" it has already been ruled many times ... you want privacy but you also want the benefits of all these people paying you for the priviledge to see/do ... ??????????

It's a trade off ... you may not like it, but it's very true.

Fame has its nice side ... it also has its very fucked up side ... I'm sure Gail knows that part first hand! And more often than not, you have to know that ... and stop hiding! I think Frank knew that from the start and it may have been the difference, and one of the reasons why he might have played the rebellious role, maybe not necessarily at home, where he might have had to have some more respect for the lady and the children ... but even then ...


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PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 6:29 pm 
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Do you have any skeletons in the closet ?

People are still people , and like to be treated as such.

No matter what their job is , they are still people and should be afforded some conditions of privacy.

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PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 11:50 pm 
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Moshkito wrote:
The one story that would be perfect for this, is the one that is already fucked over and probably so screwed up that it will not be worth seeing, and written and shown with a mentality that belongs in the 25 cent peep rooms! ... these would be Pam's 2 first books, both of which are incredibly gigantic and quite big, on the things happening on the Zappa house, which I am sure that she can speak for fairly well, and probably embarass Gail, while at it, or at least ... who knows? ... but I think that Pam's books are incendiary, because so many of those folks are alive, and I am not sure that Don Johnson, wants to allow his name to be mentioned, for example, which will hurt the story and its validity! But I seriously doubt that Pam is a serial liar, and that a lot of the stuff she wrote was filler to tell us that she was in love with Robert Plant only!

I really think that Pam needs to come clean. She has hidden the republishing of the 2nd book, probably because some of the famous names have hit her hard, and she needs to unload those names and that crap. Those people need to learn to live with their own faults and errors and screwed up images!

But, here, I'm not sure Gail, wants to have a part in it. Pam made it look like Gail and Frank's house was one of the best rehab drug and drink centers with some amazing names coming through it, but Gail has never said anything, and she might feel embarassed so tell us that she did her part for the portion of the whole thing that was fucked up in the first place? That would suggest that Gail was an abuse'r too?

It's weird, and the more silence and image building that gets done, the worse it will get.


Very interesting comments, Moshkito! I think I have to read Pamela's books... But is she really hiding the republishing of the second?

http://www.pameladesbarres.com/

I remember 32 short films about Glenn Gould as a fine feature, and it did well in European art cinemas and festivals. Something like that could work with Zappa, if the director(s) be brilliant. A good Zappa film should be energetic, quirky and to the point, massive and entertaining. There are some conflicts right there, so it's not an easy job. Think Uncle Meat the album rather than the movie... 200 Motels is too slow, syrupy, and Baby Snakes doesn't quite hold up for the duration of the show, either. Hmmm.

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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2011 4:02 am 
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edit: i would like more a documentary than a film on his life, cuz with all the video in the vault they are able to do a great one with the real Frank.

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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2011 11:11 am 
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pedro2 wrote:
Do you have any skeletons in the closet ?

People are still people , and like to be treated as such.

No matter what their job is , they are still people and should be afforded some conditions of privacy.


I agree with you, and I would like to have some as well ... but in the end, it is the "privacy" that hurts you the most when all one is doing is trying hard to get attention so they can sell more music, or more art or more books.

It's not fun, and there are just as many casualties of one as there are of the other. It's a fine line, but you and I would be the first one saying don't come bitching to me, if you did get over that 1 million dollar mark and have nice clothes and car and house ... don't come bitching to us about your "privacy" ... that person milked that to the last penny!

We're in the age of advertising and media ... there is no such thing as "privacy" any more! Your neighbor can have/own an infrared device and see when you're having sex ... wow ... so different than us all? ... in the end, the whole "privacy" thing is a sick joke, hiding things that could blow up the million dollars ... sorry ... I don't feel sorry for you at all kind of thing, is the first thing you and I are going to say! :wink:


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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2011 11:28 am 
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Dark Clothes wrote:

Very interesting comments, Moshkito! I think I have to read Pamela's books... But is she really hiding the republishing of the second?

http://www.pameladesbarres.com/


I have read that 2nd book about 10 years ago, and I think I let someone else read it and I have not seen it since.

A lot of that 2nd book is interesting, and begs a lot of questions. They also are, probably, the best possible set of ideas as to what could be added to a film script that would make it more lively and interesting. Without it, all you have is a guitar player that likes to turn people off and knows how to be weird and come up with musical things that no one understands!

The snippets in the GG film are somewhat ideal, and could even be done by different directors, and end up with something like the film "Aria", but I would think that is way too spread out, but could work.

The piece I want to direct? ... the one that gives him the film camera in the hand, and let me take over! There are only 2 other madmen out there that like an open camera out there to grab anything and everything that you can play with later ... Godard and myself! and Frank, of course!

Quote:
...200 Motels is too slow, syrupy, and Baby Snakes doesn't quite hold up for the duration of the show, either. Hmmm.


200 Motels probably suffers from Palmer's asskissing star thing, more than anything else ... he probably felt that he had to make sure that Ringo and Keith looked like the stars they were because that was where he made his money and living! But if you take 5 steps back, and watch it from a distance, and see the visuals from an angle that you can barely make up the smaller details, all of a sudden, the music and the visuals ... say and do something else. It's way better than sitting stoned and trying to find the Wizard of Oz along side of Dark Side of the Moon bullshit! But it is not for everyone, specially the Hollywood top ten crowd!

Baby Snakes is excellent ... with one problem for me ... by the 2nd hour I was tired and it was starting to grade on me ... too much rock music, I guess and the kid being silly on the drums, so to speak ... a great concert ... but sometimes it felt like just a bunch of hits, and I got tired of them! I can sit through ZPZ, for example, or the full Chunga's Revenge many albums ... but twice the same thing, as is the case in Baby Snakes ... dried me up.


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