'4 stars', the new daily series of TVE, fuels the controversy of who creates the series in Spain

    Who is the creator of the series or what it means to be a scriptwriter. These are apparently simple questions but that, for some time now, have become object of debate and war in the Spanish audiovisual industry. Although in the United States the credit system is clearer, and the union that defends them is stronger, in our country there is a more lax regulation and there are not a few cases of people who, without deserving said credit, sign as such. A runrún that has accompanied the sector for a long time and that is now put on the table with, more or less, names and surnames on account of the ‘4 star’ series.

    TVE’s new daily fiction for prime time, which premiered on Sunday in simulcast on La 1, La 2 and Clan in front of 1,794,000 viewers, has opened the debate after a tweet from one of its scriptwriters, Borja Glez. Santaolalla, who pointed out that, perhaps, some creditor did not deserve it. “Guess which of these names hasn’t written a single line of dialogue,” she was saying. In other tweets that followed in thread, he pointed out that “the two chapters broadcast today were written by Ángel Turlán and I. On the other hand, we are the ones who wrote the bible and the pilot.” The two of them appear, in another screenshot uploaded by him credited in “Original Idea” together with Daniel Écija, so it is not difficult to deduce that it is he who is referring to. In fact, the doubt about the authorship, or about the credit “created by” or the role of showrunnerhas accompanied Écija in his latest productions (‘I’m alive’, ‘Debts’, ‘Cristo y Rey’), although until now such a clear statement had not been made.

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    There is not a little support from other scriptwriters that Gonzáles Santaolalla has found as a result of this publication, as well as from the scriptwriters union ALMA, for which this has been one of its main concerns and claims for some time. Nor is Écija the only producer suspected of introducing his name among scriptwriters without writing scripts; Cases have been heard such as that of a naval series whose creator does not sign any chapter or the adaptation of a book whose producer is the one who takes that credit, although no matter how clear it may be in internal circles and obvious as the cases may seem, journalists do not we are present in the script rooms to decide who the real author is and we cannot echo it if there is no voice to denounce it, as in the case of ‘4 stars’. “It is a common practice and it should be known. Only if you write can you be a creator. Only if you write can you be a screenwriter,” said the screenwriter.

    Who creates a series and where does the controversy come from?

    Either because of the ego of appearing as a creator, because of picaresque, because of giving a bite to copyright and the scriptwriter’s salary or because of ignorance (possibly not this), there are many executive producers who sneak into the credits of those who write , to the detriment of those who do. The lines of authorship can sometimes seem blurred, or pretend to be, and they take advantage of it.

    To begin with, it can be understood that the “creator” is the one who has an idea for a series, but this is not necessarily the case. Vague, simple ideas are worthless if they are not developed: saying “we are going to make a biopic about Periquito de los Palotes”, “let’s make a Spanish ‘Succession'” or “let’s adapt this precious book” is not they constitute an idea in themselves, at least not as understood in the world of the script. Those “ideas” may be the work of an executive producer (thinking about which projects may interest and sell), but if they are developed by others, they will be the ones who have created the project. The delimitation of what is an idea on a napkin and the creation of a series is marked, generally, with the development of the bible, the characters and the writing of the pilot episode.

    That does not mean that a producer does not enrich the work of the scriptwriters with his ideas and contributions, even if he is not a scriptwriter. Enrique Urbizu explained it very well in a talk Dama Habla: “I have it very clear. If I get up at 9 in the morning and type, I’m a scriptwriter. If I have two or three meetings with a script team and we decide ‘this is here’, ‘this doesn’t work’, ‘this over there’, I’m a director”.

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    For better understanding, We can give a couple of North American examples. Sarah Jessica Parker wanted to return to television and had the idea of ​​doing it with a series about a woman facing a painful divorce, but since she was not a screenwriter, she chose one she admired, Sharon Horgan, and convinced her to join her. her project. Thus, Sharon Horgan would be the one who appears as the creator of ‘divorced’, despite the fact that Parker had had an undeveloped germinal idea, being executive producer of the series. More recently, Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan decided to adapt the science fiction novel ‘The Peripheral’ for Amazon and they looked for a scriptwriter to develop it: Scott B. Smith is the creator of the series and Joy-Nolan, executive producers.

    And then, what consequences should it have in Spain?

    This controversy is far from being just a question of egos (I have written more than you and why your name comes out bigger), but rather the credits have to do with the remuneration and royalties they generate and, therefore, they should be scrupulously respected. Until now it has been quite common for there to be powerful production companies that demand that their owner sign as creator of all the projects that other screenwriters present, but every time they try to make these malpractices more visible.

    The chains and platforms, having the upper hand and the money in their pockets, are the ones who should put a stop to these issues. It is not difficult to find out about cases of this style in the sector and, at the very least, they could consult the unions. And if that should be the general policy in private (where sometimes personal relationships weigh as much or more than talent), public television should be the most exemplary of all. TVE cannot allow a single credit outside its site because it is everyone’s money.

    I was born on Wisteria Lane, I was a roommate with Hannah Horvath, and ‘Chicago’ drove me crazy because Roxie Hart is me.


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