Television stations such as SIC and TVI, use the productions to reach high numbers of audiences during prime time.
The first Portuguese soap opera was produced in 1983, by RTP, and proved to be a success, leading to a positive future for this type of project. Despite the constant comparisons with Brazilian productions, Portugal has been evolving since the time of the shooting of the first soap opera.
Producing a soap opera
SP Televisão is one of the Portuguese companies that produce soap operas in Portugal. Adriano Luz, the artistic director, explained to The Portugal News, how soap operas are produced in Portugal, based on the work carried out by the company where he works.
The company starts by presenting an initial production proposal, which can be adapted according to the strategy used by the television station. As a rule, projects are discussed “based on proposals from SP Televisão, whether for soap operas or series.”
More than just actors
The actors who play the characters are the ones who have the most visibility in soap operas, but there is a technical team that includes several professionals, who help the entire project to become a reality. Scene builders, decorators and the characterisation team are professionals who, together with camera operators and assistants and audio and lighting operators, take care of the technical part of the production. Not forgetting directors, directors of actors, photography and art, as well as those who takes care of the costumes. The productions also have executive producers and production coordinators, an additional cast, among others who form a team with a considerable number of people.
A soap opera is normally recorded “between six and eight months”, as Adriano Luz told The Portugal News. The recordings begin two months before the television channel premieres the production. If five episodes are broadcast per week, “five to six episodes per week” will have to be recorded. In addition to the work on the scenes, there is still a need to finaliae the audio-visual content, in the editing process, to be made available to the television station. Remember, that certain soap operas are on for a year, being a lengthy job.
Picking the right person for the role
The cast is chosen together with a team, where Adriano Luz, as artistic director, is present. A first choice is made, which later may or may not be changed. The television station will always have the final decision. Adriano Luz reveals that even so, sometimes he does not agree with the choices and gives his opinion, despite making his word count, he does not always get what was expected.
Television stations “tend to have actors and actresses who appear on the channel”, hence the repetition of actors in the cast of various productions. Adriano Luz admits that he understands why the same actors are used, however, he believes that it can become a disadvantage, as the audience is no longer “surprised by the new.” The artistic director reveals that “he misses seeing new faces, new talents.” Regarding this backdrop, SP Televisão held three-month courses, where actress Filipa Nascimento was discovered, who is currently starring in the production Amor Amor.
Awards for Portugal
SP Televisão has already produced 26 soap operas and has received 130 awards and nominations for these. Laços de Sangue was a Portuguese soap opera that in 2011 won an Emmy in the category of Best Telenovela, with other telenovelas such as Rosa Fogo and Vidas Opostas nominated for the same category in subsequent years. Gold and Silver medals were also won by Rainha das Flores, Alma e Coração, Nazaré and Terra Brava at the World Media Festival. All these productions were broadcast on the television channel SIC.
Adriano Luz believes that “there was a great evolution” regarding the production of soap operas. The evolution can be seen in representation, realisation, “as well as in other technical areas”. Currently, Adriano Luz believes that Portuguese productions have a quality very close to Brazilian productions, which are considered some of the best in the world. The difference that still exists today is the financing of Brazilian productions, which continues to be higher when compared to Portuguese productions.