Friday, October 30, 2015

My Reflections on the Telenovela Consumption of Narconovelas

                      After listening to all of the group presentations from the past few classes last week, I became particularly intrigued by how audiences have perceived certain telenovelas and thematic material. The presentation concerning the consumption of narconovelas (telenovelas that concentrate on the effects of drug smuggling in Latin America and abroad) left me particularly captivated.  Even though the programs mentioned in this presentation demonstrate seemingly unrelated television genres (Narcos, a Netflix drama and Pablo Escobar: El Patrón del Mal, a Telemundo telenovela), both address the topic of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, albeit from markedly diverse angles.
      As discussed in class, Narcos explores Escobar and the problem of narcotics in Columbia from the 1970s to the 1990s. It does this with a large budget, but within the constraints of ten episodes per season. In terms of how Narcos handles the thematic material it unfortunately presents an ethnocentric perspective by focusing only on how the United States handled Escobar. Based on the trailer, it comes as no surprise that this North American drama is presented mostly in English… combined with some moments of terribly acted Spanish dialogue. The more Narcos had been explained in-depth, like how the show misrepresents Columbia through stereotypes, the more disappointed I became. At times, I wondered: Did the team behind Narcos even try to research the topic for the program in order to strive for historical or cultural accuracy, at least with how it portrayed this area of Latin America? My guess is, probably not.
       On the other hand, after watching the trailer for Pablo Escobar: El Patrón del Mal (a telenovela lasting over one-hundred episodes, with a substantially smaller budget), I had found that this program offers a much better interpretation of the same subject. This stems from the fact that the telenovela had been created in Columbia, specifically for Columbian audiences who remembered Escobar and the brutality of his power. Even though El patron del mal probably leaves bits of information out for the sake of time, I still feel that it pays more attention to detail when compared to Narcos. Also, El Patrón del Mal devotes more time (and effort) to Pablo Escobar by exploring his life and the dangerous causes and effects of the wealth that he acquired. However, this telenovela does not attempt to glorify him in any way. Instead, it serves as a reflection on Columbia’s dark past and hope for a better future. To me, that sounds like a more effective and significant approach.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Telenovela Consumption: Rosas y De Ruptura

Now that we've finished four consumption presentations in class, I have found myself really captivated by some of the ideas discussed. The recent presentations of the telenovelas, Pablo Escobar: El Patron del Mal and Narcos, were interesting due to each telenovela's historical relevance to the drug trade in Columbia. However, what really fascinated me with the presentations was the ideas discussed on the first day regarding consumption of telenovelas rosas and telenovelas de ruptura.

I was a member of the first presentation group and we chose to focus on two telenovelas rosas called La Usurpadora and Yo no creo en los hombres. We chose these two telenovelas due to the time period in which they were created. La Usurpadora was produced in 1998 and Yo no creo en los hombres was more recently produced in 2014. Ultimately, we chose to discuss how each telenovela fell into the rosa category, but also how each telenovela addressed certain cultural ideas of the time in which it was created. For example, we discussed how the evolving issue of gender roles is portrayed in the two telenovelas. In the older telenovela, the female characters have a more domestic role and are encouraged to stay in that role throughout the telenovela. However, in the more recent telenovela, the female characters have a more prominent role and our portrayed as hardworking, educated and strong. 

We also discussed how social media impacted the consumption of both of the telenovelas. Obviously, social media is a more recent development; therefore, telenovela users did not use it to discuss telenovelas in the 1990s. Interestingly, social media has played a large role in the consumption of Yo no creo en los hombres. Viewers are using blogs and twitter to communicate and discuss their ideas, likes and dislikes about the show. What I am most fascinated with, however, is the idea that telenovela viewers are more likely to consume and be aware of the cultural ideas in telenovelas when the telenovela falls into the rosa category in comparison to the de ruptura category.

Following our presentation, the telenovela de ruptura group presented their findings. They concluded that viewers of telenovelas de ruptura don't typically discuss cultural issues or topics online and instead, focus mainly on the plotline in their discussions. In comparison, they suggested that telenovelas rosas typically fostered more online discussion about the plotline, but also the cultural issues in the story as well. 

I think this is an interesting idea for two reasons. One, it's interesting that the traditional love story remains the dominant plotline that viewers enjoy. And two, I wonder if because telenovelas de ruptura are made to be more realistic and relatable than telenovelas rosas, that people have a more difficult time picking out cultural issues within their plot. Telenovelas rosas are historically more dramatic and exaggerated than telenovelas de ruptura and they tend to really fixate on the love story. As a result, I wonder if the love stories causes viewers to become more analytical and interested in the telenovela as a whole. And because telenovelas de ruptura are more realistic and not as dramatic, viewers may not be as compelled to get super analytical or interested in more than just the superficial plotline.

Obviously, there are several factors that go into how a telenovela is consumed; however, I just find this a compelling idea and something worth thinking about a little bit. Let me know if anyone has other opinions on this topic!

Friday, October 16, 2015

DBJ Major in a Telenovela Production World

I have been pleasantly entertained while learning about production in telenovelas. From the beginning I picked Avenida Brasil thanks to its production quality. You can easily tell the Brazilians threw money at production like it grew on trees! It looks as though it is Hollywood-quality cinematography, whereas most novelas look like I could’ve made them with one of the JVC cameras we use for our packages in journalism. Honestly speaking, the lack of good quality in telenovelas is what would bore me of them and make me never want to watch them; I was biased and spoiled for being accustomed to high-production quality TV shows from America. I have noticed most of Telemundo’s new telenovelas are super high quality; therefore really making me intrigued enough to want to watch those as well.
I also have really enjoyed learning about the production standpoint of telenovelas because I also used to act. I was signed with an agency in downtown Atlanta for TV, film, commercials and print and I learned so much in my time there! It’s cool seeing the pictures and behind the scenes videos and learning the terminology as well of the production staff, (although in Spanish) all, or most, of these things are very familiar to me!  Usually, I have not been on a set for more than two days, so minute details such as fingernail polish color is not something I usually had to think of! But when it comes to using booms, finding (very) creative ways to hide a mic under the actors shirt, downtime between takes, hair and makeup, etc. these are all things I have experienced as well! One thing I would love to explore more after learning about production is seeing behind the scenes on Escobar… after finding out that it is ALL filmed out of studio, I was shocked as to how they could do something so difficult, specially in a big city! It’s difficult enough to shoot in a studio, I cannot imagine out of one for the entirety of a novela!

One main thing in my case as a digital and broadcast journalism major is that I am learning about filming and editing video (packages) too. This means that I need to keep in mind, when I am filming, things like close-ups, emotion in the eyes, movement in the shots, movement coming into and out of the shots, as well as frame-by-frame action and making the close-ups, medium shots, and wide shots all match. This is all SO much to remember when you are out there interviewing someone and they are regular everyday people (NOT actors) and you cannot ask them to redo something a hundred times until they get the shot right. You either got it or you didn’t! So in production with a bunch of actors, you can have them turn, look, or do certain things until production staff gets it right. I on the other hand am a one-man-band and not only need to control video, but also BROLL, audio, lighting, natural sound, AND conduct an interesting and newsworthy enough interview to get unscripted answers… it is quite a lot! Because of this experience I am currently living through, I am really getting a kick out seeing the way it is done in telenovelas!

Tension entre los escritores y producción

La lucha entre estos dos jugadores en el juego telenovela es cuando el director no puede hacer lo que está escrito en el guión. Esto creó tensión entre las dos personas.
     La relación entre el escritor y director es más como una relación entre el escritor y la producción. En mi cabeza yo lo veo como una lucha entre el creativo y lógico. Se trata de un choque, simplemente porque de los dos papeles opuestos que desempeñan en la telenovela. El escritor tiene la libertad withing su mente para crear cualquier historia en el mundo. Incluso si esa historia es el mejor concepto para un telenevla nunca, si no se puede convertir en algo para la pequeña pantalla del equipo de producción debe hacer cambios. Esto es desgarrador para el escritor que también derrama su alma en el trabajo que hacen, pero hay que hacerlo. La producción de la telenovela es una bestia de muchas cabezas y parece que con cada problema que se corta distancia, dos cabezas más crecen en su lugar. Esta sección de la producción de la telenovela tiene muchos jugadores, pero todos ellos se unen en el extremo de crear una telenovela tan cerca de la visión de escritores como sea posible. En mi opinión todo el equipo responsable de la producción de una telenovela tira de un milagro cada día que envuelven el rodaje de un episodio.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

El Casting

La producción y el aspecto técnico de las telenovelas es fascinante. Tanto se une para crear los momentos perfectos de las telenovelas. Un elemento de la producción muy interesante es el casting. Hay tantos  factores en el proceso de escoger los actores: necesitan aprobación de los autores, que sí pueden representar los personajes como visualizar a los autores; necesitan aprobación de los directores, que sí pueden crear la visión; y necesitan la aprobación de los ejecutivos, que sí pueden vender la novela a la audiencia. Y otra consideración es si es el proceso es de arriba hacia abajo o el opuesto. Si el contrato existe para un actor antes de que la historia sea conocida, otros elementos pueden ser pasados por alto por necesidad.

Un ejemplo de eso, que a mí me interesa mucho, es el proceso de encontrar y escoger los actores de para el niñez, juventud o tercer edad. Algunos programas priorizan el ambiente y la realidad de relaciones que pueden imaginar la audiencia. Si la audiencia no puede creer que el padre e hijo son relacionados, la audiencia puede sentir que más de la telenovela no es realístico.

Lorenzo (izq.) y su hijo, Martin
Vanessa (izq. y su hija, Vicky)
Los actrices en 13 Going on 30

Eso es especialmente importante cuando necesita considerar el proceso de envejecimiento. Siempre estoy asombrada cuando el actor de niñez parece exactamente como su contrapartida mayor, y si no parece exactamente lo mismo, por lo menos espero una relativa semejanza. Un ejemplo perfecto de eso es 13 Going on 30 con Jennifer Garner.  La actriz joven En Aurora, no es así. Los actores al comienzo de la telenovela, de los protagonistas en 1990, actúan como los hijos de estos personajes cuando la telenovela esta en 2010. Además, los actores jóvenes y los actores mayores no son parecidos por nada. Solo necesitan ver bajo para evidencia de eso.

La evolución de Lorenzo
La evolución de Natalie
La evolución de Vanessa
Nina, Vicky y Martin, los hijos de Natalie, Vanessa y Lorenzo

Eso presenta para mí la idea que eso no es una prioridad para las telenovelas, o por lo menos que los actores importantes (y costosos) son más importantes que la fluidez de esta realidad que construye la telenovela.

Compañeros, ¿es un fenómeno que pase en sus telenovelas también?

La tormenta de Nina

El blog post de hoy se lo quisiera dedicar a Nina y a todo lo que le sucede a ella durante el transcurso de la novela. Desafortunadamente no he avanzando mucho con mi novela porque quisiera poder ver cada segundo y sentarme a verla todita. Pero no, no puedo. Estos ultimos días he prendido la novela mientrastanto cocino y mientrastanto limpio y me arreglo para acostarme a dormir.

El blog post de hoy se lo quisiera dedicar a Nina y a todo lo que le sucede a ella durante el transcurso de la novela. Desafortunadamente no he avanzando mucho con mi novela porque quisiera poder ver cada segundo y sentarme a verlatodita. Pero no, no puedo. Estos ultimos días he prendido la novela mientrastanto cocino y mientrastanto limpio y me arreglo para acostarme a dormir.

Me siegue gustando mucho la novela, pero me cuesta mucho ver a Nina sufriendo tanto. Me cuesta pensar si lo que ella esta hacienda está bien o esta incorrecto. Por un lado, entiendo su necesidad de querer vengar la muerte de su papá. Carmina claro que le hico mucho daño a Nina como niña, pero de todas maneras me incomoda mucho pensar lo que ella tiene pensado hacer con ella y su familia. Si quisiera verla vengarse de ella, pero a la misma vez, no me gusta verla a ella rebajarse al nivel de esa bruja. Carmina la trata terrible… pero terrible es terrible, y de todas maneras Nina se la aguanta y le sigue el juego. Esto me impresiona pero también me da miedo. Si ella la aguanta tanto es porque ella tiene algo fuerte planeado por venir. Las dos mujeres son mujeres con personalidades demaciadas fuertes y cuando se encuentran es peligroso y dramático. 

Me incomoda pensar en toda le energía que Nina le ha votado durante su vida a odiar y a planear contra Carmina. Ella esta muy traumatizada y enfocada en dañar a Carmina. Esto se ve varias veces durante cada episodio. Como cuando Nina recuerda los momentos que Carmina le dio maltrato como niña y cuando ella muy intensamente dice, “es hoy, Carmen Lucia Morena de Sosa, que tu casa va comenzar a caer,” se le ve y se siente el dolor que ella carga en su habla. Sé que lo que le espera a Nina no es fácil, pero de alguna o otra manera, ella se lo ha buscado. Muchos que la quieren le han rogado que se devuelva para la Argentina, pero ella esta muy enfocada en lo suyo. Mama Lucinda le advirtió seriamente cuando le dijo que “entre [ella] más busque(s) los secretos de esa familia, más [se] estará(s) metiendo a la llama.” Ella asegura que “no es una venganza infantil,” ella dice que ella es “una adulta” y que esto es “un ajuste de cuentas.” 

Se que lo que le espera a Carmina y lo que le espera a Nina no es nada fácil. Vamos a ver que pasa. 

Telenovela Production in Señora Acero

There are countless aspects in telenovela production, from the details in make-up and wardrobe to lighting and camera angle. After learning about what it takes to produce just a single episode, I viewed my telenovela, Señora Acero, much differently. Specifically, what stood out were the various locations used throughout the telenovela.
            As mentioned in lecture, scenes are shot out of order in order so that the production might be more efficient. Señora Acero was filmed in several locations around Mexico City. While watching the next few episodes, I noticed how often the show takes place outside, in a town, on a rancho, or even on the road. But before production even began, the producers and directors and writers had to decide where each scene would be filmed. From lecture and the readings, we know a myriad of the details and efforts that go into production, but moving in between several locations further complicates production.
            In addition, throughout Señora Acero, there are many flashbacks and memories that occur in the middle of a scene, so it would be not only infeasible, but almost insane to assume that each scene is shot in order. Sara has several memories of her husband, Vicente, towards the beginning and several other flashbacks to their time together and his murder occur throughout the rest of the telenovela. I would assume, as an actor, that it might be difficult to go from shooting a wedding scene on a rancho to a flashback scene on that same rancho. Furthermore, I can’t imagine the difficulty in the later part of production, when all of the scenes are placed in order.

            Finally, it takes careful planning to determine which scenes are to be filmed while all the actors and production team are in a specific location. For example, the script would have to keep carefully detailed notes of what the actors are wearing in each scene, down to the color of their nails. Although several scenes might be filmed in one particular setting, they do not necessarily all occur in the order in which they are filmed. Throughout Señora Acero, the scenes jump from the streets of Tijuana, Mexico, to the Acero’s old rancho. There is one specific episode in which Sara, her son, and Elio travel to the United States and are filmed crossing the border. It is fascinating but also overwhelming to imagine all the pre-planning and preparation that goes into making such scenes a reality. But in the end, the knowledge of how a show is managed and produced increases respect for everyone in that industry.

Budgets, Business, and Behind the Scenes: Flor Salvaje

In our last discussions in class, my eyes have been opened to layers and layers of work, set up, attention to detail, costuming, and planning that goes into creating a simple 45 minute episode . As I heard more and more details that the script would have to write down, or the minute lighting or temperature issues- or even timing on getting props from the grocery store!- the incredible man power that goes into creating these stories is overwhelming.

I am grateful for this new lens of observation because thus far, I have been absorbing all of the telenovela knowledge with a sense of it being in a magical world far away- but seeing the cameras, lights, equipment, and production staff has brought it all to the forefront of our reach!! Because I am a business major,I feel as though I have been trained in looking at the processes and behind-the-scene inputs of a product. Here, the development of set and more logistical parts of each discussion have sparked a wave of curiosity- ie. 15 tabs of videos and articles about behind the scenes in telenovelas. The budgets, staff, outsourcing, and production ratios and output statistics have proven to be quite more calculated and far more impressive than I could have ever imagined.
On average, Telemundo spends 70k per hour in making telenovelas and overall, 10 million per series. From calculating the correct ratios to every 40 minute (roughly) episode, the costs that telemundo puts down is roughly 46k each “capitulo” THIS IS MIND BLOWING!

The budget is massive just on the input end of this project. Of course, I understand that one must create a story and an environment, sets, etc etc but I have been completely blown away by the immensity of capital that is pushed into this somewhat “small” sector of the entertainment industry.

Miami specifically has been booming due to all of Telemundo’s shooting that is being done in Hialeah. Just in the Miami area, a combined 40 million was spent in capital according to the Miami-Dade County OFfice of Film & Entertainment- and these numbers only resulted from having five novelas filmed- imagine the amount of capital and GDP increase with more and more novelas?!?! That thought alone just blows my mind;

I got curious and was wondering if I could find specific numbers for my telenovela and Telemundo; but Flor Salvaje seems to be filmed in Colombia. I was able to check out a video that Telemundo had promoting Flor Salvaje.

In the background you can see the crew, the background props, extras, and the directors tent. Starting in 0:16, 1:04 as well as many other parts of this video, you're able to see the camera on the tracks and then the point of view is changed to what the audience ends up seeing on the final cut. There are many scenes in Flor Salvaje where someone makes a big entrance, or the camera is following someone who is running so I am so sure that this set up made those shots possible. In the beginning of the video 0:22 shows a huge-what seems to be man made- wall that has a camera man standing on the top! It is great to see how creative and dangerous parts of production can get just to get the perfect shot.

Another aspect of the production that has me intrigued is the detail and attention that goes into the introduction of a telenovela. The importance of the intro and recognition of those who are behind the camera has never been high on my list in any experience that I have had with my movies. Only once or twice have I waited for the credits of a movie to roll by- and honestly, it has been to see a preview or “golden nugget” of the next story line of a Star Wars of Marvel superhero movie. Once I actually paid attention to the credits I noticed that Telemundo is smart! They have their credits about half way through their capitulos. And in recent episodes, they have placed the credits right before a huge reveal is going to happen, or right in the middle of Amanda, Rafael, and Sacramento fighting- so of course I sit through the credits. Not to mention I have also gotten to really like the song “Oyeme” which was written and produced by Marcos Flores. The first couple of second of his song is played in between each section of the capitulo and  he sings “Oyeme con esos ojitos negros”- so if those words can be recited in my sleep then I can’t wait to memorize the whole rest of the song (currently I am about halfway through without stumbling over the rest of the words) can occur with the names of the actors that are shown on the screen. On Telemundo’s viewing site that I am watching the novela through, the entrada is different than the original one and has Amanda, Pablo, Rafael, and Sacramento in a photo shoot type of background. Amanda is putting on makeup then she is sat in a chair, naked (appropriate), with the men all around her.  This nonetheless is quite provocative for an intro that is thrown halfway in an intense episode.The second entrada I found has almost the same set up as the short online version;however, there are oil field in the background and Monica Spears is walking through a bar that a lot of the action happens in. This is a good entrada as it has a familiar setting where the viewer can recognize that and the background of the oil field remind the viewer of the subplot of Rafael's dirty business. In comparison with my favorite entrada we saw in class, I love the creativity of Cosita Rica’s specific details that are hidden in the market with the colors and details of the entrada, but honestly, I like the original set up best so that the viewer is reminded of the character’s actor’s name.