Production is perhaps the aspect of telenovelas least often thought of by consumers. Save for the celebrities who star in them, few follow what goes on behind the scenes, because that’s not what they’re shown.
One of the aspects of production that I find most fascinating is the use of non-studio locations used in filming- especially the mansions used in so many telenovelas. The clip we watched in class of the writing team walking through the mansion and getting ideas as they went was especially interesting to me. I find it really interesting that the location can shape a story not just in the broad sense- such as the country or neighborhood shaping the culture- but down to where the windows are and how many steps are in the staircase. As an audience member, I rarely think, “wow, that was a handy place for a door,” or “that dining room works really well for this size of a group,” yet if those details were missing, I would notice. The slightest thing would ruin the entire atmosphere of a show, and for something as emotionally charged as a telenovela, a ruined atmosphere could feasibly cost them a large part of their viewership and decrease the overall quality of the show.
Now, the perfect placement of doorways and windows and the ideal room size or view isn’t all that impressive if a scene is filmed in a studio, but it is when those scenes were carefully planned based on the rooms available on-location. This is the opposite of what a casual viewer may think: instead of writing scenes and then creating sets to work for them, the house is pre-existing and the scenes are written to match it. This whole idea fascinates me, partially because I view it as a real-life constrained writing scenario, but with much higher stakes than recreational constrained writing prompts. I’m also amazed at the success that the writers have with doing this.
I’m sure there are other genres of shows and movies filmed on location like this, but again, the melodramatic atmospheres necessary for most telenovelas seem to me to make this a higher-pressure situation in the telenovela world. Knowing the work that goes into setting scenes makes me appreciate the writers and set designers all the more- as well as those whose homes are being used in production.