Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Writing for Locations

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. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Melanie, I really enjoyed your post because I had several of the same thoughts during class! As someone who has never been on set - let alone on location - I definitely take for granted the little details that are critical to a show's production. From the viewers perspective, it seems like a small detail that happens to make sense. But after our lesson in class, it became very obvious that there is no accidental door or window incorporated into the scene without the director or writer making sure that it made sense.

    My telenovela is shot heavily on location throughout Spain. Whether it be in the barrio neighborhoods or upper crust Moroccan-inspired mansions, my show encompasses a variety of places that looking back now must have been extremely difficult to shoot. For example, there is a scene in which the protagonists are being chased through the streets of the neighborhood. This may not sound too crazy, but when you think that the small barrio towns go up large hills and are comprised of very narrow staircases, it becomes quite the task. The scene was very cool to watch, but must have taken so much care and preparation to shoot. These are things I definitely wouldn't have considered prior to taking this class.