Saturday, October 10, 2015

Aspects of Telenovela Production Demystified

If I were to describe the production process for a telenovela in one word, it would probably be “rigorous” (Okay, I lied. It would actually be two words: “rigorous” and “hectic”). After studying this process in class for the past two days last week, I have been left dumbfounded by how much work goes into creating just one telenovela episode. Now, imagine having to repeat that process almost every day until the program ends… only to start all over, again. Based on this aspect, I have more respect for the telenovela because making one requires intense dedication. Recalling the class discussions and readings on this topic, three parts of telenovela production stick out to me: the writing process, the role of the Script (as a person), and the choreographed nature of “love scenes.”

It seems that, to be an Author for telenovelas, one has to enjoy their profession and become immersed in the plot. One telenovela episode is about thirty to forty pages long, which is a daunting feat in itself. Because these episodes air almost every day of the week, this means that the Auhor must create an outline (Diagramación) for a new episode almost every day of the week. Fortunately, he or she collaborates with a team of other authors (Dialogistas) who specialize in certain entertainment genres in order to enhance the dialogue in the storyline. Once this storyline is fixed and completed, the Writer e-mails it to the Executive Producer, where it undergoes more editing.

Of course, I find that working as a Script may be one of the most difficult aspects of telenovela production. This refers to both the actual paper and the person in charge of it, which had seemed a little confusing to me in the class discussions at first. This particular position is challenging because it involves constantly checking for details and inconsistencies in the storyline, on the set “floor” and in the Control Room with different cameras used to aid the Director. Everything must be carefully inspected from scene to scene for accuracy. Sometimes, though, glaring mistakes do happen: such as a nail polish goof from the Brazilian telenovela, O clone (2001), as shown and discussed in class.

Perhaps what is really bizarre about creating telenovelas is how “love scenes” are treated. On television, these scenes looks believable and somewhat easy to do, Work behind the scenes, on the other hand, reveals an entirely different side. Every “love scene” is choreographed (SURPRISE!). While it may look like an actor and actress onscreen are naked, the reality is that they are clothed the whole time. Similarly, when they kiss each other, the do not exchange anything. I must say that, seeing these kinds of scenes in class without the accompanying music (a part of post-production) felt awkward and a bit disturbing: especially when one considers that the telenovela production crew is also watching.
All in all, nothing is what it is seems in producing a telenovela. Learning about this process serves to dispel the frequent and common misconceptions about this type of television program. If anything, telenovelas require more work and less time when compared to television production formats in the United States. For this reason, I think that telenovelas deserve more recognition in terms of their production.              

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