With “Mon Ket” François Damiens returns to hidden cameras. For the shoot, he needed several hours of make-up to transform it and make sure that it was not recognized by the trapped people.
Back to basics
Several years after having stopped hidden cameras, François Damiens returned in 2018 to his first loves on the occasion of his first achievement My Ket. The film tells the story of Dany Versavel, played by Damiens himself, who decides to escape from prison where he languishes to assume his role of father to his “ket” (Belgian expression meaning with pride his son): then begins a long apprenticeship in the image of the character, between runs, shenanigans and small pleasures.
Almost entirely shot on hidden camera, My Ket smashed attendance records in Belgian cinemas by totaling more than 48,000 admissions in one week and obtained three nominations for the Magritte du Cinéma (the equivalent of the Césars in Belgium) including that for best film. After a very good start in France, My Ket brings together less than 250,000 spectators. The criticism is rather mixed : while 20 minutes speaks of a “comedy (which) constantly surprises with its freedom of tone and originality” and Studio Magazine which qualifies the film as endearing and “funny“, The Parisian evoked “some situations (which) make you uncomfortable, while others feel deja vu” and for Le Figaro, the film is failed, aligning “wobbly sketches“.
Evoking the father-son relationship through hidden cameras
My Ket was born from two common desires of François Damiens. Write a feature film about the paternity and filiation and reconnect with hidden cameras. According to Damiens, no one can play better than someone who doesn’t know they’re being filmed. And he missed this contact with the “anonymous” people, as he explains on a daily basis. 20 minutes during the promotion of the film:
By doing the actor in many fictions, I realized that I missed no longer improvising and no longer giving the answer to non-professionals.
Regarding the subject of the film, François Damiens had this idea of dealing with the parent-child relationship for a long time in mind. This is what he confides to Allocine in 2018:
It’s a theme that touches me a lot, that of his parents and therefore of the fathers who try to do the best possible to raise their child but who in the end do the opposite! There is in them a real desire to do well but watching them act, we know that this is not the right way to proceed and that obviously it is the kid who will die!
Producing a feature film entirely with a hidden camera is a very rare principle in French cinema (The 11 Commandments by Michaël Youn in 2004 or Bitch, Princess of Hearts with Camille Cottin in 2015 are almost the only ones). Very quickly, Damiens realized that he had no one to realize My Ket. During his televisual impostures, he regularly happened to go behind the camera to direct operations. It is quite naturally that the idea that he would also be the director of the film was imposed.
A particular shoot
In order to make this project feasible, a heavy technical device was installed on the opposite side of the small crew needed to shoot hidden cameras for television:
There, I had to manage a team of sometimes more than forty people… I who love lightness and freedom, I had to compose and adapt to a film team which necessarily waits for you to play your little one number to go to the next scene! The logistics were also very cumbersome: the installation of the cameras, the fact that the trapped should not cross each other when we were forced to redo a sequence that had not worked …
The concealment of cameras was not the most complex step for Damiens, who admits that he cannot help but wonder where he would place cameras as soon as he walks into a room. For the sound recording, however, things were more complicated: the technical team went so far as to offer fleeces stuffed with microphones employees of a parking lot they wanted to trap.
The other technical challenge of the film was that François Damiens did not make himself known, although he had just enjoyed some success in the cinema thanks to films like The Aries Family (more than 7 million admissions) or The Kaira (1 million admissions). Four hours of makeup were needed to make up it every morning. Dental prostheses, ear removers, false belly, false thighs … An important metamorphosis which did not prevent him from being unmasked a few …