Dec 3, 2008


I've had many experiencies while studying telenovelas. And, even though I'm equally interested in all aspects: production, consumption, regulation and the different representations we see in those daily episodes, I've learned that most people are particularly interested in production. In short, how is a telenovela produced? is the overarching question in many of the conversations I participate in, and is the most commented chapter of my book "Venezuela es una Telenovela."

Today I share with you a recent experience while studying the production of Venezuelan telenovela La Vida Entera.

The plot: In La Vida Entera, the Duque family owns a media conglomerate that includes fashion magazine Exquisita, which provides one of the main contexts for the telenovela's storylines. The male protagonist, Salvador Duque (Jorge Reyes), is part of this family, also constituted by his father, Napoleón (Gustavo Rodríguez), his stepmother, Olimpia (Beatriz Valdés) and his younger sister Carlota, "Tata" (Marisa Román). The Duque family "lives" in a beautiful house with a breathtaking view of the city of Caracas.

Following is a brief excerpt from Episode 6, where you can get a glimpse of these characters and their house.

Research experience--Visiting the location: I had the privilege of visiting the house with Leonardo Padrón and his team of writers the first time they went to this location. It was extremely interesting for me to be able to observe first hand how each of the house's rooms sparked ideas in these writers: "Here, Olimpia should...", "Maybe we could place Tata there...", "What about sitting Napoléon here and...," etc. Padrón and his writers also noticed interesting angles that the location provides for shots that will contribute to the telenovela's storytelling and its visual vocabulary. Meanwhile, two members of the production team took copious notes.

The experience was fascinating to me. I'm still figuring out its full importance to my research. For instance, I immediately started noticing the influence of the visit in the telenovela scripts. I would have never noticed this, if I hadn't been in the house with the writers.

Writing a telenovela requires much creativity and strategy. And even though telenovelas always have that mix of dream (the love story we all wish we could have) and reality, for these stories to work they must ring true. And I learned that these visits help immensely in writing a script that sounds true.

Here's a short video I prepared of our visit. Don't expect Spielberg, please. But, I think it will give you a good idea of my experience that afternoon:

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