The appeal of foreign locations
A number of teleserye are now boosting their appeal to viewers by resorting to the expensive gambit of shooting abroad. “Princess and I” has set quite a number of its sequences in the Himalayan country of Bhutan (masquerading as a fictional country); “Kung Ako’y Iiwan Mo” is about Overseas Filipino Workers in the Middle East; “Walang Hanggan” has a strong Italian connection, and “Dahil sa Pag-ibig” has shot some of its scenes in the States and Europe.
Are the international locations worth it? Yes, because they make the teleserye look different from the locally filmed competition.
It also adds a veneer of “class” and sophistication that makes the Filipino characters come off as more global in perception and projection. The fact that Filipinos residing abroad have ready access to local TV shows adds to the teleserye’s international appeal, as their higher expectations have to be satisfied.
The added advantage is especially clear in “Princess and I,” because the choice of shooting Bhutan’s exotic landscape and palaces makes the show visually unique. The emphasis on location may come across as superficial at times, but it’s still a plus point that the competition has to work extra hard to match.
To be sure, the exigencies and limitations of shooting abroad are many: quite often the shoot has to be rushed to reduce costs, and the hectic production schedule sometimes negatively affects the finished product. In addition, supporting roles sometimes have to be filled by less than stellar talents, who happen to be available at the foreign locales, saving the producer extra travel costs.
Encouragingly, however, some series are able to avoid or finesse these problems or limitations so they don’t bring down the production’s appeal.
In fact, some local series shot abroad have impressed us with the solid portrayals turned in by the foreign actors picked to work with Filipino leads in key supporting roles.
It’s clear from their confident portrayals that they are trained actors and well-cast, not the usual driver or production hanger-on sometimes shoved into important roles to reduce costs.
As local teleserye continue to improve, they will appeal not just to the expatriate Filipino audience, but also to other televiewers worldwide. The stories told may continue to be “Filipino,” but for local series to be exported, especially in Asia or Latin America, they have to offer a more international proficiency and polish.
It would do our TV producers well if they speeded up their storytelling, because the slow, repetitive pacing of our TV series might be regarded as one of the more distracting or irritating aspects of our teleserye. They should also cut down on the musical over-scoring.
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