The Epic Story in Small Proportions

By Matthew Ryan Miramontes – 11th Grade, Cornell High School

When I think of a Telenovela, the last thing I would think of is an inner city high school in Pittsburgh. City Charter High School is working to change that misconception and bring more cultural awareness into student minds through The Epic Telenovela Project, a new and interesting way of teaching Spanish to kids who may have not been interested in the subject in the past.

The Epic Telenovela Project is “An end of the school year project where students come up with original stories, scripts, and dialog in all Spanish dialect short films,” says Katie Bordner, a sophomore Spanish Teacher in CCHS. “We really wanted to focus on creating this… epic that used original story telling and acting from our students,” she added.

Marneia as she prepares the scene before calling action

Marneia as she prepares the scene before calling action

All of the students’ ideas are totally original, only using slight inspirations from the acting of other Spanish films to grasp the concept and ideas of filmmakers and see what is it like to make, edit, and produce your own film. Students also use whiteboards as story writing material. As they circle certain ideas and erase others, all of the students worked together to come to a single idea.

Students also make commercials for their movie which all require editing and the use of subtitles for English viewers. The genres of the movies were the most surprising, as every single movie is different from the next. From action movies like Code Rojo (“Code Red”) to dramas like Los Tres Hermanos (‘The Three Brothers”), there is something for everyone in these films.

Anthony goes over his script, changing certain ideas

Anthony goes over his script, changing certain ideas

The idea of the Epic Telenovela Project actually came from a final project of a college student, Julie Bryan.  Instead of taking a final exam for her Spanish class, she wrote, produced, and directed El Amor de Mi Amante or (“The Love of My Lover”) using entirely Spanish dialect. Her professor loved the idea so much that he published the work online, and other teachers around the world began using this project as their final. Pittsburgh being the so called “Melting Pot” of many different backgrounds allows people of every race or gender able to be a part of something totally new and fresh to them.

Tiernan and Greg come up with scenes that need to be shot before the day is over

Tiernan and Greg come up with scenes that need to be shot before the day is over

The best thing about The Epic Telenovela Project is the creative control of the students, as this is their movie and their ideas.  They can do basically anything that comes to mind. A student of CCHS, Jaimere said, “Everyone had different opinions, but eventually we all came to the same page.” He also really liked how everyone was able to try something new and exciting rather than doing the same boring paper that every other school has done before. “People are taken out of their comfort zone, it’s honestly life changing,” he explained. Students had all good things to say about the project and everyone is looking forward to the final projects coming on July 21st and 22nd.

If you would like to learn more about the Epic Telenovela Project, visit Telenovelashowcase2015.webs.com, which displays past Telenovelas as well as the coming works of this year. Students, parents, filmmakers, or anyone that is interested will be able to see the films online and get a sense of what type of work went into these movies. City Charter High School is more than a school and they have talent that is going global.

Jeffrey, Jaimere, and Celeste get ready to rehearse a scene in their Telenovela

Jeffrey, Jaimere, and Celeste get ready to rehearse a scene in their Telenovela


Matthew Miramontes 1Matthew Ryan Miramontes is an 11th grader in Cornell High School.  He resides in Neville Island.  Matthew writes for his school newspaper and wants to write as a journalist for a major magazine one day.  He is interested in music and movies.

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