Last month, Telemundo wrapped production on the hit show Yo Soy El Artista, a reality music competition featuring some of the hottest undiscovered performers the Latin world has to offer. Co-produced and developed with Spain’s Reset TV, the entire show was filmed in Orlando, Florida on the Universal Studios back lot.
Over 4,000 people auditioned for the program, with just 14 finalists chosen to advance through to the competition phase. One of the contestants, Cesar De La Rosa, is currently enrolled in Full Sail’s Music Business program. Contestants endured rigorous vocal and stage training, weekly performances in front of a live audience and a panel of judges, and the constant threat of elimination. Cesar hung in for the duration of the program, ultimately coming in as the runner up to winner Aaron Emanuel.
Along with Cesar, the production featured over 40 members of the Full Sail community working behind the scenes. About half of those were grads hired to work a variety of production jobs—everything from accounting to post-audio—with the other half including student volunteers.
The show was a huge success, averaging over three million viewers each week. Simply maintaining the elaborate set and chronicling rehearsals was a big undertaking, not to mention the work involved with producing the performance and elimination portion of the show, known as the Gala. Most of the grads and volunteers working on the project put in 10-14 hour days. 2013 Film grad Neil Watson was an assistant camera operator on the show.
“We’d actually come in about two days before the Gala to clear up, check lenses, back focus, full focus. We worked directly with the technical director so everything upstairs (in the control room) was synced with the cameras.”
Like many of his peers, Neil started out in one department and landed in another. Originally brought on as a talent PA, he spoke to one of the producers about wanting to work the camera. When a spot opened up, the producer remembered him and got him transferred.
“A couple of graduates I know actually hired me,” he says. “So we’ve all networked and been friends since Full Sail.”
Eduardo Adrianza, a 2014 Recording Arts grad, started out as an audio post editor. From there he was moved to the position of audio operator. When the producers discovered that Eduardo is also an accomplished musician, they absorbed him into the house band. “My main thing is guitar,” he says. “But I also play bass, drums, piano and keyboards. For one of the Galas, I even got to play the accordion.”
Contestants were kept in total isolation from the outside world during the filming process, meaning no cell phones or internet; no trips beyond the studio or hotel. The idea was to get them to focus completely on the competition while also raising the stakes. By limiting contestants’ interactions, their relationships with each other were able to develop and complicate. This made for compelling entertainment and very strict rules when it came to working on set.
2014 Film grad Emmanuel Maestre worked as an audience producer for the program. In addition to making sure each of the 460 audience members remained happy during the long shooting schedule, he also dealt directly with contestants’ families.
“We had to be a little strict with family members, because they wanted to talk to the performers, they wanted to hug them,” he says. “We kept an eye on them, but in a nice way,” he adds.
Working on Yo Soy El Artista proved to be a great learning experience for everyone involved, made better by the fact that much of the crew had connections dating back to their time as students.
“Working with other Full Sail students, it’s like we just get each other,” says Emmanuel. “We have the same sense of structure and discipline. It’s been amazing.”
For more information on the production and the grads that worked on it, check out this exclusive behind-the-scenes video from the set of Yo Soy El Artista.