The Return of The Telenovelas

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

Telenovelas have been around since there was television, They have become a world wide phenomenon thanks to “Marimar.” Most of the Telenovelas are to be taken seriously, but this is almost impossible because of overacting and laughable dialog. Students created a Midday television show that projects what kind of drama a secret agent or a buddy cop couple would go through.

Telenovelas and Soap Operas in America both have many similarities: they both don’t have seasons like a normal television program, and they also have daily showings during the week that would air in the midday usually. The differences are where the extreme contrasts are shown, and it is surprising to see just how different they are compared to American programming.

The biggest difference is the length of the two. Telenovelas have a set number of episodes which means they have a scheduled end, while a Soap Opera can have an unlimited number of episodes without an end. The most famous example of this is General Hospital, which has been on Television since 1963. Another difference is what type of themes are conveyed. Most Telenovelas will use storybook themes like Good vs. Evil, or sets of three like Cinderella, while an American Soap Opera will feature family themes like troubles with a new school, or what happens when moving to a new country and the cultural changes associated.

Who would have thought that Pittsburgh high school students could accurately capture the spirit of telenovelas?  Through the Epic Telenovela Project at City Charter High School, students created their own telenovelas to learn more about the medium, as well as practice their Spanish speaking. The Students seemed to try and convey a cultural message by attempting to get other people interested in movie making and what goes into a Telenovela. The biggest thing taken from this is how long it took to even make a five-ten minute movie and how much handwork went into each piece.

Students had to follow certain guidelines when making the movies and these would usually involve six to eight different scenes all including rich dialog and hilarious overacting. The final showing, which was held during school hours, was more of a way to let loose and laugh at friends’ works, all while learning how other students edited and got that certain charm for their Telenovelas. Seeing the projects grow from the first time I attended was really the best part, you could see certain scenes that were actually being filmed right before your eyes.

Twenty-four telenovelas premiered at the showcase, each usually involving three to six students. Each student edited an individual scene, and even the students who have never edited a scene before were able to make their scenes look outstanding.  Students with previous experience with the editing software were able to create stunning first person effects and even make portals appear out of thin air.

I interviewed the cast and crew of the telenovela Hy-May Banks 005, and the crew said, “Everyone edited a scene.  It usually took a whole day to edit for the more experienced, but it could take up to five days for the less experienced. It would all depend on if you worked on it at home or just from school.”

In between each telenovela, the students created and watched commercials which taught some simple Spanish vocabulary. The commercials were actually the real helper of the show, teaching the audience how to learn Spanish words that would be used in every day life. One commercial even taught the words for certain foods like bananas and yogurt, until the narrator ingested cat food and fell to the ground in a fatal coughing fit. Another taught a Spanish poem on directions and the stars.  At times, the over-the-top commercials were the real stars of the show and were a great way to break up the action between movies.  Most of the Telenovelas involved two commercial breaks right before a main point in the story to build suspense and keep you on the edge of your seat. Every single commercial had a different flavor and had a way to bring in a short comedic break from all the “total seriousness” of the Telenovelas.

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Before the showing of the Telenovelas as the silver screen is set up and prepared for the following masterpieces

While watching their peers’ telenovelas, the students used ballots to vote for certain categories. Just like the Academy Awards, the categories included Best Actor/Actress, Best Death/Injury, Best Poster, Best Website, and Best Effects. The winners will be listed along with the telenovelas on the website.

I spoke to Mrs. Bordner, the CCHS Spanish language teacher, about the telenovelas and she explained, “I was so impressed with the students’ hard work and dedication to make the best possible picture they could in such a small amount of time.”

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Students watch as their Telenovelas are revealed to each other in the finest fashion, the only thing missing was the popcorn

I loved these projects and I thought that they were all executed perfectly and they really captured the idea of overacting, plot holes, and cheesy special effects to really drive home the fact that many of these are not to be seriously at all. Of course, not every Telenovela is not to be taken seriously, but these projects were more comedic sketches that used corny sound effects and outlandish costume design to show these were more of a running gag than anything.  Every single telenovela was produced and edited to perfection that had classes laughing and on the edge of their seats asking for more.

At the end of the day, Steven Spielberg would be proud of the future filmmakers for making up their own ideas. All of these Telenovelas had a charm and sense of uniqueness. Some were comedic, some more action focused, and some were just plain goofy, but they all had entertainment value. I highly recommend watching these by checking them out online on YouTube, or on the website (Telenovelashowcase2015.webs.com). Once again City Charter High School shows that it has real potential for not just future filmmakers, but for future actresses and actors as well.

 


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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