I've had very few classes in my seven semesters here at the University of Georgia where I had an opportunity to speak to prominent figures and personalities in a highly publicized industry like television production. But I suppose there is a first for everything! What I've really appreciated about Dr. A's research is has shared the insights she's gained with this class and gets us a perspective from within the network of writers, producers, directors and actors that we wouldn't get anywhere else. So I'd like to thank Dr. A for taking it a step further by organizing these Skype calls for us!
One of my favorite guests we had Skype into class was Vincente Albarracín. What was so distinct about his insight in telenovela production was his experience with directing theatre production as well. In high school, I randomly got into theatre in my senior year and it was a very unique experience to say the least. Comparing my experiences as an actor in the two productions I was in to the videos we watched in Dr. A's class about how actors and producers work in on set telenovela production makes the two seem very different. But what Vincente shared with our class when asked about working in these two different production types was that the differences between them actually help in the other. One example he gave was the type of shot you'd see in a telenovela where a character is standing on a street corner and the camera pans all around them to see their environment; this type of camera shot is called a dolley. Obviously in theatre, the audience doesn't get to change their perspective like that, so Vincente's knowledge in this kind of camera movement inspires an innovative stage design of having a moving, rotationally designed stage! I really am inspired by the kind of innovation that we can come up with by experiencing and working in places or setting you'd think would be irrelevant.
Another topic that Vincente engaged in with us was the work life of actors. It kind of stressed me out because of the nature of unpredictability in future projects for actors. Once their contract is up in one telenovela, they have to look for another gig in order to get paid. He also mentioned how it isn't easy to take on more than even two projects at one time because of how demanding a job is of an actor's time and energy. Which I'm sure takes a toll on actors, especially if for some reason they aren't enjoying the role they're portraying. Now I kind of wish that I asked one of the actors that Skyped in what they're comments are on this topic!
It's pretty crazy to me that the semester has already started to wrap up. I'm very impressed with how much we've learned in this class considering how extensive and exciting the world of telenovelas is. I think one of the biggest overall takeaways I got from this class is that media has a bigger impact on society and culture than I realized. For some people, that may sound silly because that kind of should be understood by now (especially by a student in his senior year of a journalism degree). But in taking this class, I think I've been able to gain extensive insight and study into this societal relationship via learning about the fascinating global industry culture of telenovelas. Representation of mental and social issues makes a difference and gives a voice to those who haven't had their voices heard before. Telling stories of political strife and unrest speaks to people and affects their perception of reality. Culture is defined and strengthened by productions that feed into and encourage the values, practices and realities of that culture. And I'm grateful for the opportunity to gain insight into these things by studying telenovelas in Dr. A's class!