It Was Family First at the May It Last Premiere

By Allie Waxman

A film about embracing your roots, May It Last, the documentary from co-directors Michael Bonfiglio and Judd Apatow, chronicles the production of The Avett Brothers album, True Sadness. The North Carolina band is deeply influenced by country, folk and rock, and have continued to define their sound since they began collaborating with famed music producer Rick Rubin in 2008. May It Last follows the band’s evolution over time and emphasizes the importance of family and love.

Although co-director Judd Apatow was familiar with the band prior to working on the documentary (he used their song “Live And Die” in the credits of This Is 40), he had no idea what a film about them would look like when Rick Rubin pitched the idea. “We really didn’t know what it would be for, but it was so interesting, we wound up shooting them on-and-off for two years. Mike [Bonfiglio] and I fell in love with the band.”

Scott Avett, band vocalist and banjo player, noted a similar feeling of ambiguity at the start of production. “I had a phone call with Judd, and he was looking to do something fun, something he enjoyed,” he explained. “The cool thing about the beginning of this was that we didn’t know what it was. To us, it sounded pretty boring.”

Extensively explored in the documentary, much of the Avetts’ success is influenced by their upbringing and strengthened by the innate trust they have in each other as brothers. “I probably take it for granted,” guitarist and vocalist Seth [Avett] qualified, “but we have a level of trust between us that you would have to take a lot more time to build if it wasn’t family. That’s gotta be principle among the advantages.”

Scott elaborated, “One of the most important factors is our belief that if you work hard at something, it yields something,” he said. “I don’t know that everybody in the world believes that or is taught that. We look at the creative process the same way: if we work hard and focus on what we think is important, good things will follow.”

May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers premieres January 29 on HBO.