Apr 25, 2009


In today's post we go back to behind the cameras in a telenovela. This time I focus on the taping of a "sequence shot" or plan-séquence.  

A sequence shot includes a long take and camera movements that are sophisticated because they allow for significant middle ground and background activity to be seen. These are shot and taped as one long shot, which means that any acting or technical error requires that the sequence be reshot from the beginning.

In LA VIDA ENTERA, the telenovela I'm currently studying, the use of a  steadicam and sequence shots is a fundamental ingredient of the visual vocabulary and aesthetics of this telenovela. It is used in particular in the newsroom of magazine "Exquisita", the storylines' main context.

Here you can see a sequence shot that aired on episdoe 85. (Context: it's deadline day at Exquisita. Everyone works feverishly and under stress when lunch arrives in the form of a pizza delivery):

Below is a video I took of the first attempt at the sequence shot. Notice at all times the steadicam operator and his movements. Notice also how everyone else moves on the set:

Apr 19, 2009


Last Monday I had the pleasure of being interviewed by the radio show Más Que Palabras in the public radio (Radio Euskadi) of the Basque region of Spain.

The show has a section called "The Theme Hour" in which they explore one word from different angles. The word last Monday was "PASSION." Among the guests were a professor that explained the origins and meanings of the word and its relation to "suffering." Another professor analyzed the color of passion. There were readings of legends and reflections on fruits and flowers that represent passion.

My conversation with the show's conductors, Javier Vizcaino and Maider Martín, was in relation to the link between "passion" and telenovelas.  I was very pleased with the tone and content of their questions and enjoyed thoroughly our conversation

Apr 14, 2009


In my research with the audience that watches telenovelas and in my classroom, I've found immense curiosity regarding the production of scenes that include kisses. In my recent trip to telenovela LA VIDA ENTERA, I was present during the taping of the scenes of characters Natalia (Daniela Bascopé) and Miky (Roque Valero)'s "first time." This sequence was directed by Luis Alberto Lamata

Here's a video I took during the production of these scenes. Turn up the volume of your computer so you can listen to the actors and technical crew. There are a few things to observe in this video:
  • The use of the boom (a microphone placed at the end of a long arm, so that it can be located on top of the actors during taping).
  • In the first scene we can see the simultaneous use of cameras in two "rooms" of the same set. 
  • How the technical crew is dressed in winter-like clothes. TV studios usually have freezing temperatures.
  • The importance of music in a telenovela. In my video, you notice the absence of music to set the tone.
  • The importance of the different shots by different cameras, and the director's decisions as to the view we will get. Here, we see the scenes through the exclusive "eye" of my small camera.

I would have liked to place here the final--broadcast--version of these scenes. But, these days video sharing systems are closing the accounts of users who place any material related to TV or film, even if it's for educational use. I invite you then to find the scenes on the Web. They belong to Episode 90 which was broadcast in Venezuela on April 2.

Apr 12, 2009


A brief post to report that Corín Tellado, has passed away at the age of 81. She was the queen of romantic fiction (folletín). Her real name was  María del Socorro Tellado López and she wrote more than  4,000 novels that were translated into several languages.  She sold more than 400 million copies of these novels.

Telenovelas have an undeniable link to the literature of folletín and Corín Tellado influenced writers who are devoted to the telenovela rosa. Her work suffered the same reception paradox of telenovelas: genres of mass consumption and mass deprecation. 

I should mention also that the telenovela I'm currently studying, LA VIDA ENTERA, has a direct link to Corín Tellado and the literature of folletín. LA VIDA ENTERA is located in a magazine for women. In the telenovela, the character Licenciado Bruno Merchán (Héctor Manrique), writes a folletín under the pseudonym "Crucita Volcán", in which he tells the story of suffering lovers "Lirio del Valle" and "Francisco José" , and the obstacles imposed by the evil "Artemio". It's a novela inside the telenovela. 

Apr 7, 2009


I haven't written in my blog in too many days. The semester has entered its last month, LA VIDA ENTERA, the telenovela I'm currently studying, has entered its crucial stage, and I don't get to sleep much these days.

In March I was in Caracas studying this telenovela's production process. I do that through hours of participant observation on the set and in-depth conversations with all involved in production. These are long, complex and dense days. There isn't a second of boredom. LA VIDA ENTERA is a telenovela with a particular "look" and its production process is hard. It also boasts a cast in which talent predominates. Hence, it's a great learning experience and a privilege to talk to these actors. This time, in addition to deepening my understanding of how characters are constructed and of the decision processes of all involved, I submitted myself to the exhaustion of the shooting schedule, and to long hours in the set and locations. In the next blog posts I'll share excerpts of what I saw behind the cameras of LA VIDA ENTERA. 

This is a short video I took while they were taping a sequence of scenes in which characters Tata (Marisa Román) and Guille (Luis Gerónimo Abreu) visit an art gallery:

Here's a picture of the actors reviewing their lines before taping a scene:

And another picture of the actors rehearsing in front of producer Verónica and director Edgar Liendo: