Watch Phil Elverum (The Microphones) documentary ‘There’s No End’
UPDATE: The whole documentary is out now -- watch below.
There's No End is a new documentary about Phil Elverum (The Microphones, Mount Eerie) from filmmaker Mattias Evangelista. If you were wondering, this is not the same film that was an accompaniment to album Microphones in 2020.
Says Phil: "I always try to just be myself. Sometimes I make songs and albums of spilled guts deep reaching ideas and send them out to all the strangers in the world, but mostly I’ve tried to keep the real daily life private. I’ve wanted to share the meat and hide the skin. Now I find myself surprised to be revealing a beautifully filmed portrait version of this home life; the simple routines with my young daughter, the meandering ideas that burble out unformed. Our lived moments aren’t the art project, but a picture of our little world with its everyday light and shadows, the place where we actually live. Coffee and oatmeal on a school morning, talking again about death and jokes and emptiness."
If the trailer is any indication, this will not be your average documentary, at least visually. The cinematography, by Riley Donavan, makes it feel more like a Terrence Malick film than a music documentary. YOu can watch the whole film below.
"In my mind, music is the highest form of art, and it’s my goal to create a film that gives me the same feeling my favorite albums do," says director Evangelista. "I’m naturally drawn to stories about musicians and Phil is a 'character' I had in the back of my mind for a while. I was intrigued with him as an artist and also felt a sense of connection to him, since both of us are from the Pacific Northwest. After the passing of Geneviève and listening to A Crow Looked At Me, I began to feel like I had to make this film. But, I wasn’t sure where to start. How could I possibly approach Phil? 'Hey I’m this person you’ve never met, I want to come make a film about you and your daughter and your dead wife.' Why would he ever be interested in that?"
He continues: "A few years go by and I find myself in Mexico randomly sitting in a pool with Phil’s uncle, Tim, I couldn’t believe it. Another year goes by and I finally find the courage to ask Tim to connect Phil and I. A few days later I awake to an email from Phil asking what my vision was for the film. Knowing he was genuinely interested in the project meant the world to me. So, after a short pre-production we started shooting in September 2020. I was joined by my good friend and cinematographer, Riley Donavan. Without Riley this never would have happened. I’m very grateful for him embarking on this journey with me. We stayed with Phil and his daughter for five days at their home in the San Juan Islands. Eating breakfast with them in the mornings, drinking fancy European wine with Phil at night. Nothing was scripted, nothing was forced, just pure observation. I’m eternally grateful to Phil for opening his life to us and for being an amazing collaborator and teacher. Part of me is still amazed at how this all came together, but at the same time it all makes perfect sense. The way it happened was so natural, the connectivity of it, the circularity. It feels like it was meant to be."
The release date for the film has not yet been revealed. Stay tuned. You can also read a statement from cinematographer Evans below.
The Microphones will be on tour beginning later this month and will play two sold-out shows at Brooklyn's St. Ann and the Holy Trinity on March 8.
Statement from Cinematographer Riley Donavan:
From the very beginning it was Phil’s photography, and all it’s grainy imperfect rawness, that set the initial visual inspiration and style of the piece. I had never heard of him and it was Mattias who first played his albums and walked me through who this person was to him and to the larger musical world. I saw his music and his photography as being made of the same DNA. I felt a connection to his observations on the nature of time. Phil is a master of observation both present and past, and can look at his life with incredible honesty. I knew this film would be a study of impermanence, in a sense this film is already a memory. Mattias and I selected a specific set of stills lenses from the 50’s that felt like the right amount of imperfect. The 20mm, 35mm and 80mm carry most of the film. We both fell in love with the 20mm and it delivered some of the most intimate moments. The Elverums were very open to us and you can feel this energy in the images. The more we shot the more a dance formed between us. The 1:85 aspect ratio keeps it in the visual language of photography, and the rawness in movement and exposure keep it from feeling overworked, something that would destroy the soul of the film. The sensitivity of color and tone was handled by our unbelievably tasteful Colorist Dylan Hagemen whose work I have always admired.The result is a film about the small beauty in everyday life. It’s about noticing things through different eyes. Sometimes it’s the eyes of a child, sometimes a father, sometimes a musician. Phil’s life is fluid between these ideals and hopefully our imagery flows in tandem with them, gracefully observing from within their world.