Youth in Metamorphosis

"In HeyBoy Fanzine, explore the complexities of youth and transformation, a visual narrative of love and self-discovery in Youth in Metamorphosis."
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Youth in Metamorphosis

by Benoît Duvette

HeyBoy Exclusive

Youth in Metamorphosis

by Benoît Duvette

HeyBoy Exclusive


Boys, Boys, Boys!

HeyBoy Exclusive

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Benoît Duvette’s creations are a symphony of youth and metamorphosis, capturing the raw essence of love and transformation. His work, a poetic dance of visual and emotional depth, unveils the delicate interplay of vulnerability and desire. Through pieces like “La Poutre dans la Prunelle” and “Ruines,” Duvette invites us to witness the tender, profound moments of adolescence where identities are discovered and hearts revealed. Embark on a journey through Duvette’s enchanting universe, where every frame is a testament to the delicate balance between longing and discovery. In this exclusive interview, we delve into the mind of a visionary filmmaker whose boundless talent and passion for storytelling promise a luminous future. Join us as we explore the intricate layers of his artistic world, and glimpse the future of a filmmaker destined to leave an indelible mark on the industry.

Benoît Duvette’s creations are a symphony of youth and metamorphosis, capturing the raw essence of love and transformation. His work, a poetic dance of visual and emotional depth, unveils the delicate interplay of vulnerability and desire. Through pieces like “La Poutre dans la Prunelle” and “Ruines,” Duvette invites us to witness the tender, profound moments of adolescence where identities are discovered and hearts revealed. Embark on a journey through Duvette’s enchanting universe, where every frame is a testament to the delicate balance between longing and discovery. In this exclusive interview, we delve into the mind of a visionary filmmaker whose boundless talent and passion for storytelling promise a luminous future. Join us as we explore the intricate layers of his artistic world, and glimpse the future of a filmmaker destined to leave an indelible mark on the industry.

Q) Your showreel beautifully encapsulates your aesthetic and vision. Can you share the story behind its creation and how it represents your artistic world?

A) I’ve tried to bring together as many components as possible to present the themes and motifs that make up my aesthetic and my artistic universe.

My universe is dark and poetic, where images – visual, sound and symbolic – take center stage. I explore themes such as identity, bodies, metamorphoses, escapes, fear of being abandoned, desire and death.

So when you watch it, you get an overview of my projects and preoccupations over the last few years. There are extracts from “Body of Angels,” “Ruins”, and of course the most famous “The Beam in the Pupils” or some other videoclips. But there are also extracts from stage performances, which is a part of my work that is less represented (especially on social networks).

Q) “La Poutre dans la Prunelle” showcases your unique narrative style. Could you delve into the inspiration behind this project and what you aimed to convey through it?

A) La Poutre dans la Prunelle is a project that explores the complexity of first love, especially unrequited love. The inspiration comes from the strong and sometimes painful feelings we experience when we first fall in love.

This song, with its poetic lyrics and music blending classical cello and electric guitars, offers a rich field for visual expression of these emotions.

In this clip, I wanted to capture the moment when unrequited love turns into almost tangible pain. The scene with the burning piano symbolizes the destruction of the main character’s hopes and desires. It’s a bit like a metaphor for the way our desires can consume our reality, leaving behind only ashes.

The clip is intended to be a visual representation of the burn of that moment, when unrequited love and desire leave an indelible mark. It’s an exploration of pain and beauty in the vulnerability of adolescence, a central theme in many of my creations.

Q) The film “Ruines” is intriguing, especially given its private nature. Without revealing too much, what was the journey like creating this film, and what themes or messages does it explore?

A) In this film, I wanted to capture those moments of vulnerability, hesitation and revelation that are crucial to each character’s personal quest. Ruins explores themes such as the end of adolescence, abandonment, inner struggles and fragility. In this film, there is a large part for the expression of the body and nature. It’s like stepping back to a starting point that’s both safe and dangerous. For me, the body and nature were closely linked to evoke the themes and subject of the film. This is also how the title came about.

We could almost say that the film shows us a boy in a chrysalis state when he discovers his attraction for another boy and doesn’t know how to deal with it. Neither can he tell if this boy – strange and mysterious – has the same attraction. The two teenagers are like two lost magnets who are attracted to each other and also repel each other without really understanding the reasons why. This is a film in which much is left unsaid and implied. The blurred veil of nature also helps to conceal the message, making it unspeakable. 

I did a lot of location scouting to find the exact spot I was looking for near my home. It wasn’t easy, because I wanted a forest in which we could create this kind of ritual in which the body would be embraced by nature. The funny thing is that when we scouted the area, the ferns that make up most of the decor were already over a meter tall. When we walked through it, it was like a maze. But when we came back a month later for the shoot, they had grown again! It was incredible. They gave that surreal cocoon look to the main scene of the film.

There’s also the element of water. I really wanted water to be present in this narrative where metamorphosis is central. Water serves as an escape, but also as a trap for the character. Water is an important element in my work, representing both the purity of all things and a state of fragility and vulnerability. When we’re in water, we’re like in the mists of our mind, water covers us, drowns us and keeps us from building ourselves. I think that in this film, when the character leaves the forest, which is very structuralized by the trees, in order to enter the water, expecting to escape, he ends up more lost in the middle of the darkness of the water. The raft he discovers is not a refuge, it’s simply there to provide him with one last breath before he has to face whatever it is he’s trying to escape from! 

Q) With “Eden & Charlie” in post-production, what excites you the most about this project, and what can your audience anticipate from it?

A) I’m particularly excited about this new project, because the duo of actors who play the characters is completely captivating! Eden is played by Augustin DeWinter and Charlie by Néven Carron, two magnificent talents!

It’s a film in which I continue to explore the pain and wounds of feelings. It’s an ambitious film, but it has a very simple narrative, as the film is (almost) a single-set movie in a large, empty house. In a way, if you liked La Poutre dans la Prunelle, this is a kind of medium feature!

The story is about Eden & Charlie, who meet in an empty and uninhabited house. Eden is a photographer and a bit of a roughneck, while Charlie takes refuge in the house to play guitar, and is somewhat mysterious. They explore the house, get to know each other, and finally reveal themselves. Throughout the story, there’s a kind of menace hovering over them.

In this film, there’s an expression of great suffering shared by both characters. There is also transgression and fear. But there are also many beautiful moments of complicity and tenderness between the boys, who open up to each other. The surroundings of the house are very open to nature, to summer (even though the characters are “ locked ” in the house throughout the story. The film is therefore also very beautiful, because it tells the story of those powerful loves that we experience over the time of a summer, as a result of which our lives are turned forever upside down.

It’s also going to be a more substantial format than my previous films (45 minutes), in order to further develop the narrative aspect, which isn’t always obvious in short films under 15 minutes. I can’t wait to reveal it. It will have the chance to be available on platforms thanks to NQVmedia, after some festivals time!

I’m also very happy to have been able to work with composer Jeanchritophe who is the artist behind the music for La Poutre dans la Prunelle, and the film will also feature a beautiful score!

Q) Your involvement in multidisciplinary artistic creation is profound. How do your collaborations within the Collectif des Routes shape your projects, and what values do you find most resonant in these partnerships?

A) As a young artist, it’s very important to have a structure to manage your creation. I co-founded this collective in order to find a semi-professional framework for my work. I don’t yet have a production house behind me, but I’d love to so that I can concentrate on my creative work in a professional way. Please don’t hesitate to contact me!

This structure is also a way of spotting talent (around me), and in the future I’d like to be able to grow and develop the projects of others who share the same values as me.

Q) Your work often delves into deep emotional connections, including themes of love, loss, and fear. How do you approach these universal themes through the lens of LGBTQ narratives and the male form?

A) When I was a teenager, I realized pretty quickly that loving a boy without knowing if he could love me back the way I love him would put me forever in a state of loss. So when I fell in love, I was often very fearful of what might happen if my feelings were revealed. But at the same time, I deeply hoped that my feelings would be noticed through little things, ambiguities, that I could produce in order to get my feelings noticed! However, I was always really on the defensive, as this gave me a way out in case the boy didn’t share the same kind of feelings as me.

As for the specific male aspect, especially when you’re young, there’s also a kind of typically male language or code that’s very difficult to interpret and read. The camaraderie or friendship that links two boys is a particularly ambiguous kind of language in which, to my mind, very specific questions of desire and sexuality can play out. But when you’re homosexual and involved in a strong relationship with another boy, when you’re a teenager, I think the greatest fear is that your love for your friend will be discovered, and lost. I think this subject is always present in my films, because it’s a very complex feeling to express and very interesting to explore.

Underlying all this is the theme of secrets. The secret itself has several layers, and can turn into a lie or denial. So, in my films, in my stories, I always try to play on this boundary where characters oscillate between these three states. Moreover, I often build an omniscient character who has already transcended all these states, and who can be a guide, a boy you fall in love with. But usually, this guide is not ready to face up to his condition, and falls back into this state of fear and uncertainty, cloaked behind an attitude of manliness and self-confidence.

For example, in La Poutre dans la Prunelle, one of the boys explores the other’s body with his eyes in the first part. He decides to try his luck in the attic, out of the closet and out of this safe place. The second boy – who is well aware of the other’s attraction and plays on it by placing himself in the light uncovering his body, and proposing this intimate moment of smoke-sharing, thus omniscient of the situation and the first boy’s condition – when faced with the first boy’s advances can’t deal with them, and prefers to destroy his surroundings rather than confront his feelings.

Q) You mentioned a series project for Instagram focusing on contemporary world themes. What drives your interest in this medium, and how do you envision engaging your audience with these social narratives?

A) I’ve made several short-films that are now available on VoD platforms, and through excerpts of these films shared on Instagram, I’ve had a lot of encouragement and feedback. I find that Instagram and social networks are great places to share content that allows us to build ourselves up and identify with models. I believe it shouldn’t just be a place for futile, humorous videos. As an artist, I feel there’s a place for us and an audience waiting for us.

I also believe it’s a place where we can dream, build and come together. I’ve made a lot of connections with fabulous artists on Instagram. I feel it can be a safe place, a place to share beyond all borders.

I know that in countries where homosexuality is punished, our content is seen and appreciated. I think it’s important to be able to identify with people who look like us!

The other benefit of social networking is that it enables dialogue, opinion and feedback from the audience. This is a very interesting effect, as it opens up a dialogue (or debate) on the subject a video is addressing. For example, I love to read the comments under a video when a subject is being debated, because I’m very curious to know what other people’s points of view are, to compare them with my own, and to wonder about the way other people think, and my way of thinking in relation to them.

So I’m thinking about how I can use social networks to build a more serious story, in the hope that it will attract attention!

A) Given your intention to survey the Instagram community for content preferences, how do you see audience interaction shaping the content you create, especially in the context of social media platforms?

A) I realized that certain elements of my work were more appreciated by my followers than others. I thought it would be really interesting to directly ask for their preference by placing two elements opposite each other!

So, with Camille Graule, who assists me in the artistic work, we brainstormed and built improbable duels using the artistic material I’d created! We had a lot of laughs, and I hope our followers will have fun too.

I’m also watching the results with great interest. I don’t think it’s going to change the way I create and the stories I want to tell, but it does give me a different perspective on my work.

Q) Cinematography and aesthetics play a crucial role in your storytelling. Could you share your process of translating emotional depth and narrative into visual language?

There’s a primordial element in my work, which is the set. I need to feel the environment. I like to explore it. I spend a lot of time on location scouting, looking for the ideal setting in which my characters will evolve.

I always try to choose unmodified, natural settings that reveal the dreamlike quality inherent in the reality of the story that will be told in the setting. The locations must be able to reflect the inner states of the characters, adding another layer of meaning to the visual narrative. I never have a big decorating team. I work with what’s already there! At first sight, I may choose locations that may seem ordinary or neglected, but when put in perspective with the other staging elements, they take on a whole new meaning.

In addition, the camera’s framing also allows us to take a specific perspective on these places, a singular gaze. There’s always a desire in the framing to create perspectives and depths to give a sense of immersion. There’s also the use of visual oxymorons, such as the over-framing of windows or doors that close off the space, constraining it, but which open out onto much wider spaces. For example, in La Poutre dans la Prunelle, when the boy in the pink shirt discovers the piano (spoiler alert : which will later be burned), there’s an over-framing of the door, which is itself visible in a mirror, reflecting a staircase (showing us the way to the attic where we later find it), but also reflecting the faces of the two boys, like their duality, their hidden feelings. Note also that in this scene, one of the boys lifts the glass veil to reveal the piano, just as one of them reveals his feelings!

Generally speaking, I also try to ensure that all the elements work together. I have a particular eye for materials, colors and atmospheres. For example, in Le Corps des Anges, when Rémi masturbates on the roof of a bunker, I paid particular attention to the rough, grainy aspect of the bunker’s concrete, the moist, humid environment and the presence of nature. In so doing, these materials express how difficult it is for the character to find tenderness in sexuality, and how he constructs it in this environment of pain and uncertainty. Nature reminds us that he can’t live this moment in peace and comfort.  A little later, when he leaves the place and we discover that it’s a former military bunker in the middle of an empty field, his sexuality is perceived as a trial, I’d almost say as a battlefield!

Voilà ! What I’m trying to do is to make everything come together as naturally as possible, while sticking to the universe, the narrative and the poetry I want to create, and expressing very strong feelings at the same time!

As for emotional depth, I think I try to tell honest stories that touch me. What’s important for me is to feel that something is happening. It’s a very intimate process and hard to explain. I think it also has a lot to do with the relationship I build with the actors. Above all, I try to convey to them the essence of the story, the feeling, the poetry of the moment we’re about to shoot. To do this, we do a lot of rehearsals, and during these moments, I look for the elements that will suit each actor and work in harmony with the other elements. In this way, I don’t force an actor’s nature, but explore with him the poetry he can give (sometimes without realizing it) and which is in the same language as the other elements already in place in the project. Casting is also a very important moment when you get a feel for whether the actor will be in tune with what we’re going to tell!

Q) As someone who creates art that both challenges and engages, what do you find most rewarding about your work, and what do you hope your audience takes away from it?

A) What I find most rewarding about my artwork is the ability to provoke thought and emotionally engage my audience. My works seek to explore complex themes related to identity and the human experience. I hope my viewers leave with a new perspective, increased empathy and an appreciation of the complexity of human relationships. My aim is to create experiences that stay with the audience long after the performance or film is over.

Q) It’s clear you have a passion for storytelling across various mediums. If you were to experiment with a new form of artistic expression, what would it be and why?

A) I’m very interested in generative artificial intelligence. I’ve been exploring the possibilities of Stable Diffusion as well as Dall-E and Midjourney. I’ve built a few projects around photos generated by artificial intelligence. I keep up to date with developments in generative video.

In the future, I’d like to be able to make an entire film using artificial intelligence. It’s important to understand that while generating an image may seem very simple today (write a prompt and ask AI to generate an image and watch the result), in reality it’s a highly specialized task to generate an image that corresponds to your precise artistic expectations.

Above all, you need to have a precise artistic vision of what you want to achieve, and this creativity, the singularity of a look, of an aesthetic will always be linked to an individual, his history, his personality.

Q) Lastly, we all need a moment of lightness. Could you share a memorable or humorous anecdote from your experiences on set or during a project?

A) The piano we burned in the clip La Poutre dans la Prunelle is the piano I bought to learn piano when I was a teenager. I’d bought it second-hand and repaired and maintained it! I neglected it a little as I got more and more involved in filmmaking and a lot less in music…

When I wrote the script for the video, I quickly concluded that I needed to burn a piano to convey the feeling I was looking for. I decided, symbolically, that it was time to give “new life” to my piano by reducing it to ashes. I’m delighted that it has accompanied me on this cinematic adventure.

As a humorous anecdote, I have to say that we had a hard time lighting it on fire! We only had one possible shot. Some builders who were working in the garden of the house we were shooting in had heard that we were going to burn a piano in the garden, so they wanted to see the show…! Unfortunately for them, neither the letter nor the piano wanted to catch fire. The workers eventually left, disappointed with the performance and mistaking us for amateurs…! The next take, in the intimacy of our team, the letter, in contact with the lighter, and the piano, in contact with those burning words, ignited magnificently! 

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