Thursday, October 31, 2013

El Capo Prodcution

Helicopters, bunkers, a golden statue of the Virgin Mary, no wonder El Capo is the most expensive telenovela produced in Colombian history. Written by Gustavo Bolívar and produced by FOXTelecolombia for the channel RCN, El Capo is one of the biggest series to come out of Colombia. It cost 18 billion Colombian pesos (10 million US dollars) to produce, has 3.6 million likes on its Facebook page and has fan pages I would call that a successful novela.

The production and staging is very close to cinema. The cameras and technology used to produce this novela are the latest used in the cinema world. El Capo has been filmed in many different locations such as: Bogotá, Medellin, Villeta, Nemocon, La Calera and Doradal. They even shot scenes at Pablo Escobar’s fort, Hacienda Nápoles in Puerto Triunfo. El Capo 2 goes to many more locations as well like Miami, Bogotá and Santa Marta.

RCN launched a second season of The Capo and Bolivar said it took more time writing every scene and every line of dialogue, and he wanted to go further and show the humanity of the characters. I have not seen any of the second season yet but I've read that it is even bigger than the first.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Production in Love Scenes

I don’t view love scenes in the same way as I did now that I know what goes into the making of a love scene. When I watch ”Santa Diabla” now, my first thought now is “oh that poor actress. Everyone is watching her and she must be freezing.” Love scenes in telenovelas are about the least romantic things that have ever happened to television. Not just telenovelas though; shows and movies in general have been stripped of their magic for me because of the way I have seen scenes portrayed in this class.

Music is everything in the story. It is essential to the production value and the plot line. Without music, love scenes fall flat on their face, as evidenced by the clip that we watched in class. The love scene without music was profoundly awkward and hard to watch. If I was a member of the crew, I would have to become desensitized to the insane awkwardness of it all. I can only imagine how viewers would react if there was no music.

The chemistry between Amanda and Santiago in the production is driven entirely by music. The music builds when they kiss, and intensifies when they have passionate conversations. If there was no music there may be no passion or feeling between the two of them that the audience would be able to strongly detect. Music drives the story, especially in love scenes.

I also found that in the production, camera shot angles are crucial. Without zooms on specific characters at specific moments, the audience would not know what to feel or what to think. By zooming in on the faces of specific characters during special discoveries, the plot continues. For example, when Ines announces to Amanda that she and Santiago are getting married, the viewer must have a close up of Amanda’s face to know if this news is surprising to her and how she feels about it. The close up does reveal to the audience that she is surprised and skeptical of Ines’s statement. This is only one of hundreds of examples of these close ups. Every revelation in the show gives the audience a shot of the character’s face who is making the realization. These individual angles are crucial and create intensity within the plot.

Without music and camera shots, the production value of the love scenes would be low and would be highly ineffective. Viewers wouldn’t sympathize with or understand the characters’ thoughts deeply, nor would they be as excited for plot twists. In terms of camera shots, I view them as the primary and driving difference between plays and television. Plays allow for one angle of viewing and no close ups of characters’ faces. This does not make plays inferior, but it is more difficult for viewers to connect as deeply with actors on stage. Camera angles, sound, sets, and nuanced reactions are what make television shows unique. And telenovelas have taken all of these elements and heightened them to be the intensely dramatic art pieces that they are.

Production and detailed shots and movements make telenovelas what they are. Without background music and camera shots, telenovelas would not be what they are, and would become something that is not as impressive, exciting or realistic.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Who ever said the entertainment industry was all glamour and no work...?

This summer I was an intern in Nashville, Tennessee. I’ve always aspired to work in the music business, and for a long time I was naïve enough to believe that the whole business was just a community of musicians and creative people, with businesspeople and planners being rare.

This summer, however, I learned how wrong I was. I saw just how many team members and how much time and advanced planning is involved in supporting a musical project of one artist. There are managers, financial teams, digital media strategists, distribution experts, tour logistics teams, promotional events teams, sound engineers-- the list could go on for ages.

The planning for a musical project-- whether it be a tour or a new release-- starts at least three months in advance, but usually it’s much further in advance. There is meticulous preparatory work put in by each and every member of a team, and it only continues once the project is up and running. Working on a new project in the music world is a very long, drawn out process with a defined beginning and ending point, and once you’re in the middle of the project, you can’t change the songs or the direction of the project without starting over completely. The public doesn’t know about your project, so you can change the whole thing without anyone ever knowing.

I’ve learned that the exact same concept is behind the production of telenovelas. Obviously, I realized that a team of people would be behind the production process, but I didn’t consider just how fast-paced the production process would be. Just listening to all the processes and team members that are involved in a telenovela is exhausting. Unlike the music business, telenovela production is incredibly fast-paced, and everyone has to adapt to each other and to audience reactions on short notice. The process is very different because some things, such as audience approval and ratings, cannot be predicted until you’re right in the middle of making the telenovela. The public is watching the project as it unfolds, and everyone involved must think on their feet in order to give the audience what they want and continue to win ratings.

Though the two processes are a bit different in pacing and structure, the common element of intensity and undying work ethic drive both the music business and the telenovela industry. Just like musicians have long days and late nights of recording in the studio or rehearsing, actors and telenovela production teams have long days and late nights of filming. Just like songwriters must fight writers’ block and force themselves to write constantly, telenovela writing teams must take the audience into account and force themselves to write something that will keep the audience watching.  

The music industry and the telenovela industry don’t necessarily have the same way of going about things. However, both have the same goal of ultimately creating a work they are proud to showcase to their audience, and they won’t stop until they have made that work a reality.

Telenovela Production- Complex Process

As I have been watching Santa Diabla, I see it in a completely different light now that we have learned about the complex process of production. Whenever the clothing becomes skimpy- I can't help but think about how cold the actors and actresses must be.  
I wish I knew more about production in general so that I could make the comparison between the production process of telenovelas and, for example, the production of a movie.  There are so many different components to the production of a telenovela, I wonder if it could all work smoothly lacking on of the components.  For example, the sometimes 'overlooked' parts of telenovela production such as the assistants etc were to slack of for the time being- would the process still flow? 

Aside from some of my questions- one of the most interesting points in learning about production was the addition of music.  If we really think about it- without music, not just in telenovelas, would make any type of show or movie completely different.  The type of music can really make or break a scene.  This is another concept that really catches my attention now, every time that I watch Santa Diabla. It was also so interesting to me to see actual camera footage captured by Dr. A of an actual production of a telenovela. To see it behind the scenes- and then on the actual television show was mind blowing. The different types of cameras play a huge role in this. From behind the scenes we see the the production from one angle- but with the addition of the cameras adds a completely different viewpoint. This viewpoint is very beneficial for viewers because it allows us to be up close and personal with the characters. If we were viewing this from, for example, where Dr. A was in the studio- telenovelas would have a completely different effect of viewers. 

I feel like the production part of this course is one of the most important processes to learn about when studying telenovelas.  It really allows for appreciation of everyone behind the scenes in the making of these captivating shows. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The production process has blown my mind

The production is amazingly long and complex. No person is without a job and no job is without a person. Between the point when the script is ready to go and the telenovela premieres on television, there are many things that have to happen. It’s all on the pauta, which tells everyone where they need to be and when. The thing that astonishes me the very most is the fact that there are so many people in so many positions that it opens the door to unlimited possibilities of problems. Even though minor problems do arise, the telenovela world is one of the most adaptable people groups that I’ve ever seen. The way they see a problem and jump over it is magnificently coordinated by quick judgment and award-winning minds. I can’t even seem to plan my morning routine in an efficient manner let alone plan an entire telenovela that is most likely going to be viewed internationally by millions of people.

I really enjoy learning about the wonderful world of telenovelas because it’s a very influential medium of media in the world today. Because of this, a lot of pressure rests on the shoulders of the production of the telenovela. The production stage is responsible for making the telenovela look good on camera so that the audience falls into a fictional trance during the show.

I love Dr. A’s stories of her personal encounters in the telenovela world when she was researching because she tells the story from the “inside” instead of someone who heard about it somewhere. Dr. A has told us of some great stories in her travels and her little videos on her little flip phone are so funny, because I understand having to do what you can with what you have.

All the hype that they put around the premiere of the first episode was expertly expressed in Dr. A’s story of the party she attended for the beginning of a telenovela. She and Leonardo Padrón shared a spot in which to observe, him to see how everyone reacts to his script and her for her research! How exciting.

How Many Beautiful Ranches are There in Colombia?

              After our lectures on production I have not been able to watch my telenovela as before. I now notice the music like never before. There is music for when people seriously suggest that the cartel should kill someone, when some action is happening (like an assassination or a police raid), a  song set and ready for the memory sequence of when a character dies, like Don Guerillmo and Rodrigo Lara. There are more but I'll keep the list relatively short. I now notice all the names mentioned in the entrada. Although when I tried to do research on those who were not the main actors, like executive producer Juana Eribe, I could not find much information other then a mention of their involvement with the Pablo Escobar telenovela. I know notice how many times the director clicked the 'switch camera' button and how many cameras there were. For example in a one minute and fifty-five second scene were 6 cameras switching 15 times. That is a lot for just under two minutes!
House of the Matoa brothers
               But what I now notice most of all are all the beautiful houses and ranches all of the drug lords have and what it must be like coordinating filming in all of those houses. There is Pablo's house, Pablo's hacienda "Napolis, Mariachi's ranch, The Mota brother's ranch, Pedro's ranch, Marcos's ranch Mauricio's ranch, Chili and Topo's house, Peluche's house, the Morocco building and the separate apartments inside etc. There are a lot more but these places just make me wonder if it's just one GIANT house that the production leased and all the "individual" haciendas are just different parts of the house. Or perhaps, the production got lucky enough to find a bunch of these houses, with owners willing to leave them, in the same neighborhood, so actors/crews and la pauta in general can all be completed in relatively close locations. However they did it, it is a spectacle and a true achievement. 
Pablo's house
Mauricio's Ranch 

Napoles (Pablo's hacienda/ranch), he has a zoo here too. 

Pedro's (far left) house

La Musica de Pablo Escobar

For those of you who aren’t business majors, return of investment means how efficient a business operates. Simply put, what is the benefit of the investment, based on the cost? Well in Escobar’s case, the return on his cocaine business was at some points 20,000%. For most businesses, they are lucky if they can achieve about 80% ROI. However, return of investment does not account for risk when you are a drug smuggler. Escobar’s dangerous life finally caught up in 1993 when he was shot and killed.

My novella is not a romantic story; it is filled with action and stress. Therefore, since my last blog post covered part of the production of the show, I wanted to focus on the quality of the entrada and the incidental music. As we discussed in class, music is essential to setting the tone. In the case of Patron del Mal, I think the entrada does a great job in opening Colombia’s feelings towards Escobar while introducing the characters.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, listen here for the ENTRADA:

My Best Translation Attempt in English:
"Then came earthquakes, corrupt and mafia men. At first, no longer fearful of deals money turned my brothers into hit men
It killed people, but not our souls. My country does not fall, trip or slip. She stands up and wipes her face.
Telling this story
my country does not fall, a thousand times, trip or slip.
Do not erase these events from your mind. Stand up for our dead.
She wipes her face after falling.
Never again!
Do not delete it from your mind to honor our dead who fell foully."

When I first watched the show, I did not understand the meaning of the song in Spanish but its gangster/rap feel made it appropriate to introduce the characters and set the tone of the novella. However, after reflecting on the lyrics of the entrada, there is even more meaning. Although I was not personally affected by the political and social consequences brought on by Pablo Escobar, I can imagine the sentiments felt by Colombians everywhere (Dr. A even said her Columbian friends who live in the States got emotional when discussing the show). When reading over the lyrics, it sounds like they could even be part of a ballad that was written to remember loved ones who have died. But after researching the song’s origins, this song was crafted especially for the show.

The lyrics demonstrate that Colombians feel it is important to remember exactly what happened so that it will never happen again. It is important to never forget to honor those who died unjustly. Like an “earthquake”, Escobar’s reign was quick and forcefully destructive. While he was sometimes viewed as a “Robin Hood” figure, his influence on the global drug trade permeated all over the world. Today Columbia is still feeling the effects of his power. He is world renown for his cocaine business and therefore Colombia has a reputation for drugs and corruption (at least in the United States). 

How It All Happens

                When we first started our journey learning about telenovelas, a lot of my questions were in regards to their production. It amazed me that these shows could be produced and aired every day of the week! I was impressed to learn that seasons aren't always completed before they air – I can’t even imagine the stress that the production crew must go through trying to get episodes completed in time for airing weekly.

                I really enjoyed seeing the behind the scenes footage that Dr. A was able to record and share with us in class. It was so interesting to be able to see a scene being filmed and then seeing how different it looks post-production when it’s aired on TV. It was interesting to see the scenes without any soundtrack or anything. It’s crazy how different a scene is before the music is added in – it really makes you realize how important it is to have the appropriate sounds and music added in.

                Learning about the music and soundtrack was probably my favorite part of learning about the production. The video we watched about all the different types of incidental music was really informative. It was so funny to listen to the music out of context with no telenovela scene to accompany it. It was also really interesting to learn about the different types of incidental music. I thought it was interesting that certain characters have their own music that gets played when they have a scene in the telenovela. Some of the things that we learned from this video are things that I definitely would not have realized without them being pointed out to me.

                I also really liked getting to hear a few different theme songs from different telenovelas. I hadn't previously known the story behind the theme to La Reina Del Sur, which is the show that I am studying, so it was neat to learn that in class and now I think about that every time I see the theme for my show. Some of the themes really got stuck in my head after class, which I guess is the point of having a catchy theme song!

                Another one of the most interesting things to me about production was learning about the different cameras and styles of filming that exist. The craziest thing to me was the sequence shot – the video that we saw in class of a sequence shot being filmed seemed so intense! I can’t imagine the stress of filming a shot where any error would require you to start over from the beginning. I’m also really glad that we got to see so much behind the scenes footage filmed by Dr. A of telenovelas being filmed. 

All Together Now

When we talked about telenovela production in class, the sheer number of moving parts really struck me. Each member of the team has to be doing his or her job well all the time in order for the conveyer belt of the telenovela assembly line to keep moving. If a backup were to occur at any point, the episode might not end up on air that night. If the dialoguistas did’t complete their sections on time, then the writer couldn’t put everything together. If the writer didn’t send the script over to the rest of the production team, then nothing at all could move forward. I got a little stressed out thinking about all the things that could go wrong. What if the writer got really sick? What if an actor got really sick?? Would they just power through?

Dr. A told us a story about a telenovela getting so behind that they were filming that day the episode for that night — if that happened, how would the cast and crew ever catch up or get ahead again? Would they have to film multiple episodes each day after that to recover their cushion? When telenovelas are faced with such an extreme time crunch like that, does the show ever fail to make it on air? Or would the team just bite the bullet and sacrifice quality for expedience’ sake?  I scoured the internet, trying to find an example of a telenovela episode failing to air, but I got nothing. It appears that the team just does whatever it needs to do to make the magic happen. Everyone pulls together.

And on that note, I realized how crucial each team member is — how the success or failure of the telenovela is in the hands of everyone involved. The script, the floor manager, the cameramen and all the assistants in between … they are crucial to each episode. But all these “little” guys don’t get a fraction of the credit or fame that the actors, or even directors, receive. They are the invisibles. I tried to look up the complete crew for the telenovela I’m watching, Corazón Salvaje. I found the writer, composer, cinematographer, director, producer and actors. There was no mention anywhere, however, of the rest of the team. This doesn’t seem right to me. I wouldn’t even know that those people existed if not for this class. I wonder if they feel neglected or if they prefer to work behind the scenes. I just feel like they deserve a lot of respect.

The Man Behind the Camera

The production of any telenovela is in many ways a reflection of Latin American culture. In other words, the common perception of Latin American people as fun, crazy, and party-going people is reflected by the madness that is telenovela production. A telenovela is not produced without its own series of melodramatic events, sometimes even more dramatic than the plot line of the telenovela itself. I think that Dr. A’s story about the birthday candle incident is the perfect example of the craziness of production.

As we studied production though, I became very interested in the role of the director. In my opinion, the director can make or break the success of a telenovela. Some directors are very detail-oriented, while others let little details slide. When watching a telenovela, the talent of the director is very apparent by the quality of the telenovela. Also, certain actors and actress like to work with certain directors, so a good director can be very valuable to a telenovela because he or she can bring in very talented actors and actresses. This is also true of writers. Certain actors and actresses enjoy working with particular writers.

The telenovela that I am studying, Pablo Escobar El Patrón del Mal, is very well produced. I believe a lot of this is due to its director, Carlos Moreno Herrera. Carlos Moreno is originally from Colombia. He has worked on projects in Colombia, many different parts of Central America, and Spain. His first work was with the documentary Chamberlain in 1992, and then afterwards he worked on many other very successful projects. I believe his influence is one of the reasons this telenovela was so successful, and I believe this is a prime example of why a talented director is very crucial to a telenovela’s success.

Tongue or No Tongue? The Importance of Steamy Chemistry

     The Brazilian novela Amor à Vida's steamy moments center around the open relationship between Patrícia Mileto and Michel Gusmão. In an O Globo interview, the two actors Maria Cadevall and Caio Castro discuss the technicality of the chemistry between the two characters, the relationship, and the most critical aspect: the kissing. Actress Maria talks about the relationship of these characters. Patrícia doesn't want to be in a relationship because of the infidelity in her past marriage. In the beginning, she only seeks sex, but the chemistry is so unavoidable that it has everyone crawling back for more. In this interview, both actors must answer questions from social media users. 
     As you can notice in the link below, these raw scenes call for intensity and explicit acting. Both actors describe the kisses as technical due to the situation and the scenes. Caio was asked if they tongue kiss and he responds by saying yes because this is also a technique that is a part of his acting which is necessary because this relationship is very sexual. Although in most novelas this is unnecessary, it's critical to capture the sexual atmosphere in the room. One, however, can notice that this is a purely professional aspect of the relationship because in a Yahoo! Entretenimento interview, Caio says, " We talk about our technique, but nothing like, 'caramba our chemistry is incredible.' This would practically mean, 'let's get together,' almost an invite! We don't have to mention anything. She knows and I know."
     Toward the end of the interview, Maria contrasts her fashion sense and the character Patrícia. She describes her style as a simple one, yet admires Patrícia's wardrobe. Details such as fashion trends are just as important as kissing techniques in order to reflect each character's personality. Professional actors create chemistry because of amazing performances. Production enhances this with it's music, camera angles, and specific fashion styles, as well. 

Watch this interview at O Globo:
Read this interview on Yahoo! Brazil TV: