Beloved in independent rock circles as the artist behind The Microphones and Mount Eerie, Phil Elverum has dumped so much of his personal and interior lives into his music that it never feels like he's done anything other than invite people into his world. As a result, his conscious avoidance of many of the forward-facing elements of underground music celebrity has felt understandable and even necessary. In the new short documentary There's No End, directed by Mattias Evangelista, Elverum takes the plunge and invites viewers into his Washington home, where he lives with his young daughter Agathe.
Elverum's wife Geneviève passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2016, and his subsequent album A Crow Looked At Me was a devastating portrait of grief and love. There's No End is a corrective to the impression many have of Elverum as a noble poet of despair, as well as a fan letter from one artist to another: the film's 20-minute run time depicts Elverum in scenes of domestic bliss with his daughter and writing music in the studio, often intercut with striking shots of the Pacific Northwest's imposing natural beauty.
Elverum shared the following statement on the film:
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.
In his separate statement, Evangelista described his personal history with Elverum's music, how a chance encounter led to its creation, and more:
I was born and raised in Northern Washington State. The music of the Northwest has always been huge inspiration for me; Fleet Foxes, Modest Mouse, and The Microphones . Like so many The Glow Pt. 2 had a lasting impact on me. 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. 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? 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.