Antelope Valley High School, Lancaster, CA
While at Antelope Valley High, because of his special "problems," Frank was enrolled in an art class. There he put together a mixed media presentation. He took a ten-minute piece of film, wiped the emulsion clean and painted each frame individually. Afterwards he keyed it to some classical music.
At the [Antelope Valley] high school, one of his art teachers (possibly Amy Heydorn; he wasn't sure), enthusiastically supported one particular project of Zappa's: "It was an abstract film that was done by painting on the film," he said. "Imagine how long it would take actually painting a movie."
Clear film leader wasn't available back then, so they gave me a dental hygiene movie called 'Judy's Smile,' and they let me dip it in nitric acid to take the emulsion off". So that's what I did. I soaked this dental hygiene movie in nitric acid and all the emulsion wouldn't come off. There were still clumps of flotsam and jetsam. And when it dried out, I just left it on there. Then I scratched patterns on it and used an airbrush on it, colored dye. nail polish ...
"One of my art teachers was so impressed with the project, she called Disney studios without my knowledge. We took my home movie down there and had a screening at Disney," recalled Zappa.
"They said, 'Nice little boy. Thank you very much for bringing your movie here.'" Because of the punishment "Judy's Smile" received, a very little bit of the original still remains intact: "Over the years, it eventually fell apart," said Zappa. "There's only a few seconds left."
Its essence, however, has been preserved forever in his home video collection.
I paint in oils and watercolor and last year produced a cartoon film in school by painting color directly onto a 250 foot reel of cleared 16 mm movie film. I painted on the color in such a way that I managed to closely, but not completely, synchronize their movements to your "DENSITY 21.5" and the second "movement" of "OCTANDRE". It brought about some amazing results from the audience and my counselors in the office allowed me to make a trip I had planned to Walt Disney studios with the film.
Nothing ever came of my trip, but when I got back to school I was informed I had a chance to be skipped from the Junior year in high school to the Freshman year at the junior college which adjoined the school as an experiment.
Ever since Zappa began shooting Regular-8 in 1958, he has been actively exploring visual media. Using his father's movie camera, young Zappa would run around the backyard like a maniac, spinning in circles. The colorful swirling image that resulted on film was further altered with ink, nail polish and air brushing.
Unknown place and date
On this footage we can see James 'Motorhead' Sherwood dancing The Bug. The group has matching suits, and is formed at least by a singer, a pianist (probably Terry Wimberly), a guitarist, a tenor sax, and a baritone sax (Motorhead). The band is probably The Omens.
c. May, 1962
I was having these open free sessions with Bunk Gardner, where we would improvise to films that I would get out of the library. I invited Zappa to come and play, so we jammed for a while. Zappa liked a lot of it and was actually in the process of starting to make films himself, so we would use some of his films to improvise on.
Dwight [Bement] & I visited FZ's house in Cucamonga a couple of times that I remember. That was before God was born. He (FZ) had shot up some film of flashing neon signs totally out of focus. He showed the film coordinated with music. Fascinating to say the least.
Filmed c. 1959-1963
One of the first things you see in this film [Video From Hell] is the music video for "G-Spot Tornado." I am personally convinced that the accompanying visuals to this piece are the 8mm films that Frank showed during his Mount St. Mary's College concert in 1963. Check this from the liner notes to the Lost Episodes:
"The program included a piece called "Opus 5," aleatoric works that required some improvisation, a piece for orchestra and taped electronic music, with accompanying visuals in the form of FZ's own experimental 8mm films (Motorhead Sherwood described one such film depicting the Los Angeles County Fair carnival, double exposed with passing telephone poles)."
Filmed c. 1959-1963
Unknown place and date (probably Pal Recording Studio, c. 1962-63)
Unnamed saxophone player next to trombonist [is] my cousin, Tony Rodriquenz.
This seems to be filmed at Pal Recording Studio, c. 1963. Here we can see FZ with a hat and his Fender Jazzmaster, Ronnie Williams also playing guitar, a singer which resembles a short-haired Ray Collins, another singer, another guitarist (maybe Rex Jakabosky?), sax player Tony Rodriquenz, and an unidentified trombone player.
March 14, 1963 (first aired on March 27, 1963)
ABC Channel 5
17 min. B&W