Producer and president of Resonant Television, Argentina, Gonzalo Cilley was the moderator of several lectures that took place during the VI worldwide summit of telenovela and fiction in Buenos Aires.
Due to his experience, he has been able to place formats in countries such as Russia, Greek and in almost all the continents. As a result of his professional career he has been involved with the exportation of contents to foreign countries and he has became an expert of the adaptation process: what is required, the need of communication between both parties (the licenser and the licensee) and other advices that should be consider by all of
those who are eager to take part in this branch of the industry. To make his comments even more clear, he
gave some examples about specific cases in the industry that are linked to lectures given by some of his colleagues, producers, screenwriters and sales managers.
Resonant producing company
He is the head of the company Resonant, which is in charge of "creating and developing fiction formats exclusively. It is a producting company in the traditional meaning, we are dedicated to produce programs." There are several stages when producing a telenovela: from the creation of scripts, to the casting, to finding the locations and settings,
acquiring the funding, shooting the programme, promoting the product and selling it abroad. Cilley's company focuses on the first part of the process: "we emphasize the part of the story and the development." They spot the client, which can be a television channel from another country and sell the story to them. "We are a company that crates stories with screenwriters, obviously, and work with authors because we believe in their potential to come up with great stories. In order to produce the programmes, we keep in contact with producers."
An important thing to underline is that screenwriters from the world over can access to Resonant to propose their writings as a possible beginning of a new television telenovela. "Here they can find an echo to their initiatives,
we welcome them to come over and talk to us."After that, they do not evaluate the quality of the propositions: "because quality has to do not the subjective aspects but we try to see if there is an international prospect." What is this international prospect all about? Is there an objective point of view from where to analyze whether a script has a chance to be a hit or whether it would fail? "From where I stand, I believe it is also subjective. After many years of having worked with television channels and producing companies from the entire world, I have come to the conclusion that I can know a little bit, I have an idea of what things should I offer to different territories. I have an image of what can be interesting to some cultures and markets."
Why a format is sold?
Gonzalo Cilley explains that there are some subjective references to what can be successful or not and that he relies on some intuitive concepts that he has acquired during his professional career. Nevertheless, he has a theoretical explanation of why formats are actually sold abroad, which elements do they must have in order to attract worldwide audiences, foreign purchasers and a massive market. "Most of the purchasers buy an idea out of the written material, the scripts, the text," he says. Brazilian researcher from Globo Mauro Alencar says that there are two aspects that affect the audience when watching a telenovela: the text and the underlying text, the latter is connected with the social meanings, imaginaries and cultural connotations of a programme.
It does not matter when it comes to selling a format abroad, Cilley says: "they only pay attention to the text, they lack a deep analysis of the underlying text, of what is happening at a particular time in a specific country."
In general, the elements that are considered are: the story and objective figures and facts: in how many countries it has been sold, how did it worked in those countries and information of the sort.
Telenovelas for export
The international market has become hunger of Latin American telenovelas. Every day more, countries are demanding to watch those kind of dramas. There are two ways to trade a telenovela: canned or formats. A canned programmed is the same as the original with subtitles or dubbed. A format is the idea, the concept, the scripts. "Nowadays, the market of formats if growing more and more. Asia was a pioneer in this. There are other countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia who also have the experience of producing a daily television melodrama and they used to buy canned dramas in the past. Still they are not as ahead as the Philippine when it comes to adapting a
telenovela," Cilley explains his outlook on the international tendencies. The stories that are chosen to be adapted in
the way of formats are those that can be attractive to other societies, taking into account elements of the plot and how it went internationally on previous occasions. "The fact that many have chosen Lalola confirms that it does not longer matter where the screenwriter was born, it does not matter where the programme comes from for the story to be relevant everywhere." He says that some stories make sense no matter how different the culture is. "Last
year, I travelled to Asia and noticed how different their culture and our culture is. Anyway, at times of watching a telenovela good stories had an effect on all these countries."The secret lies, he says, in making a good adaptation."This is the art of the process and its magic. It is a hard work that takes up a long time and requires a great deal of communication between the creators and the ones who adapt the telenovela."From this process, successful cases such as Betty La Fea - which is now the most adapted format from Latin America to the world - come to life and open the doors for new products from the continent.