Thursday, October 13, 2016

Telenovela Production

As finance major, my understanding of the media and entertainment industry does not extend far beyond what was discussed in my Entertainment Law course. Before covering the topic in Dr. A’s class, I had no knowledge over television production and much less on telenovela production. Now as a student in Dr. A’s class, the production of telenovelas is a topic that I have enjoyed learning about because it has changed how I now think about and view telenovelas as well as the actors featured in them.  As a viewer of telenovelas, I had previously viewed them in a simple and almost self-centered way categorizing them as merely my form of entertainment without considering how the telenovela was produced. I enjoyed watching the captivating and melodramatic story unfold without really giving any thought on how each episode was manufactured and the talent required of each actor to make the story come to life.

After learning about all that goes on behind the scenes of a telenovela in order to get an episode filmed, I now know that more people are involved than I would have ever imagined. Previously, I assumed that the writer of a telenovela was only one person writing everything. I was not aware of the existence of a team. Along with the main author, there is also a writing team that consists of “dialoguistas” that are usually experts on a particular type of scene and are responsible for writing the dialogue for their respective types of scenes, whether that be humorous scenes, romantic scenes, and so on.  The main author outlines a whole episode and then delegates scenes among his dialoguistas. I think it makes sense to have specialized dialoguistas because it allows for certain themes to be consistent throughout the telenovela. For example, having one dialoguista write the majority of the humor scenes for each episode allows the telenovela as a whole to have consistency in how humor is framed and portrayed throughout all of its episodes.

I was also surprised at the existence of various directors. The main director, or Director General, counts with assistance of other directors to handle certain scenes, especially scenes “de exterior.” The production team has an executive producer, general producer, a script, and production assistants. The role I found most interesting was the role of a script because it was not a role I would have imagined to exist. After learning about the role of the script, I realized the importance of having someone on the set that is responsible for the sequence of the scenes and the small details of each scene that can be missed by directors. I feel as if the role of the script is crucial in the production of the telenovela. because they are able to perfect many scenes. However, even then scripts can miss details. As I have been watching Pasion De Gavilanes, I have noticed a few scenes where the script missed some details. For example, in one episode, Ximena is wearing a see-through shirt on the first scene. However, after a few scenes, she reappears wearing a tank top under the see-through shirt. I wonder why the first scene with Ximena was not re-filmed considering the wardrobe malfunction.

As we watched the videos Dr. A took while telenovelas scenes were being filmed and as Dr. A discussed the daily activities of actors, I was exposed to ideas I had never dimensioned before. Up to this point, when I had watched telenovelas, I was so consumed by the telenovela that I did not clearly draw the line between reality and the telenovela plot. I didn't identify Norma Elizondo as Danna Garcia, an actress, singer, and philanthropist. Instead, I identified Norma Elizondo as being Norma Elizondo, a rich women that is separated from the man she loves because of the difference in socioeconomic class. I think my mixing of fictional characters with reality is the result of the talent of actresses and actors in telenovelas. When they cry, their faces are covered in distress. During romantic scenes, their passion and happiness beams from their eyes. They make their acting seem so realistic, and easy that I forget to remember that these are actors who make a living off their ability to pretend to be fictional characters in telenovelas.

Learning about production, however, has opened my eyes to view telenovelas as an art and its actors as truly talented people. When they are crying, it’s not because they are seriously sad. It’s because of their talented ability to control their emotions and display them in a natural and realistic way. Now, when I watch episodes of Pasion de Gavilanes, I find myself wondering how Norma and Juan are able to convey such strong chemistry and affection just by the way they look at each other. I start wondering how many shots it took to get a scene right. I start observing if the scene is a studio scene or an exterior scene and which director is handling the scene. Besides viewing the telenovela as a form of entertainment, I also view it as an art that is result of the tremendous talent of both the people behind the scenes as well as the ones in front of the camera.

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