Thursday, October 24, 2013

Telenovelas: just like other television shows...on steroids

      Coming into this class I didn't realize how intensive the production of telenovelas was. During the first couple weeks I got a sense of the idea: one episode a day means things are pretty hectic. However, I didn't actually realize how hectic until our lecture on production. It is crazy. One of the things that baffles me the most is that the show isn't completely written before filming takes place. Because telenovelas play straight through from beginning to end there are no season breaks. The craziest part is that a writer can write a completely unplanned plot change in the middle of the show, or he can suddenly end the show depending on how it is received by the audience. I find it difficult for the actors to commit to the roles without knowing what will happen to their character. In contrast, I read somewhere recently that J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, told Alan Rickman (Severus Snape) the truth behind his character, and how he was actually protecting Harry, before it was even written in the books. Rickman was the only one to know this, and often the movie directors would try to make him act in a way that conflicted with this, but he would argue against it without divulging the secret. In the end, it made for a deeper performance on Rickman's part. BUT IN TELENOVELAS,  IT'S THE EXACT OPPOSITE! I'm not saying that is necessarily detracts from a character's performance, but it seems strange that a character may have a secret that is later written in and the actor discovers it in the same way as the audience.
      The speed at which the telenovela is produced is also terrifying. At the fastest, a writer will write a script, actors will receive it the next morning, and the whole episode will be filmed that day. Sometimes the production team is only a few episodes ahead of airing schedule. Working in the theater in the past, I can't imagine having to memorize a whole episode worth of lines the day of filming. I can understand why the actors hold onto their scripts until a millisecond before the director says action. I can even imagine how difficult it is for the prop team, or the post-production team, with being on such a tight schedule, hardly having time to get anything done. I guess this is why these people are professionals.
      While learning about the different jobs on set, my favorite was the script: the person who takes notes on actors' costumes, the set, and other details that are important for congruency when scenes are filmed out of order. I found this position very interesting because I love finding incongruencies in films and television shows. I can also imagine it being a very stressful job. I was also very surprised to discover the different directors for in-studio and on-location shots. I never thought of it that way. If I knew more about directing I would try to find differences in these types of scenes in "La Reina del Sur." All in all, the production side of telenovelas is incredibly interesting but I'm so glad I will never be a part of it.

1 comment:

  1. I'm with you- I'm glad I won't ever be a part of it because I don't think I could handle it! I think the intense work schedule speaks volumes about the level of dedication of everyone involved. And the fact that they do it over and over and over by working on multiple telenovelas during their career is a sign of how important telenovelas are in Latin American culture. The long days and insanely fast pace have to be taxing on those working on a telenovela, but something makes it worth it for them to keep doing it anyway. I have so much respect for all involved with producing telenovelas because it's clear to me that they have so much commitment and dedication to their audiences, and ultimately to the perpetuation of the genre that's so deeply rooted in their culture.