Puerto Rican Voices
About the Show
Puerto Rican Voices is a TV program that profiles the stories of prominent Puerto Ricans, makes investigations about issues affecting the islands and the diaspora, and showcases community projects. The show has evolved from a magazine format to an investigative documentary series, which puts in context the legacy of colonialism and how it affects the lives of Puerto Ricans. Puerto Rican Voices seeks to amplify the voices of Puerto Rican in the US media.
About the Center for Puerto Rican Studies (CENTRO)
Founded in 1973 by a coalition of students, faculty, and activists, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College (CENTRO) is the largest university-based research institute, library, and archive dedicated to the Puerto Rican experience in the United States. We provide support to students, scholars, artists, and members of the community at large across and beyond New York. We produce original research, films, books, and educational tools and are the home of The Centro Journal—the premiere academic journal of Puerto Rican Studies. Our aim is to create actionable and accessible scholarship to strengthen, broaden, and reimagine the field of Puerto Rican studies.
As Puerto Rican Voices is evolving, our aim is to continue developing documentary episodes with strong cinematic storytelling. Besides being informative about their topics, documentary filmmakers are expected to have a clear story that drives the theme of the episode. We recommend that the directors have well-defined protagonists, antagonists, conflict, plot, and story arc in their documentary episodes. Stories help to put a human face to complex investigations and topics, and develop connections between the audience and characters.
All episodes produced must comply with CENTRO’s editorial guidelines. Filmmakers and Executive Producers must work together to ensure that the documentary episodes are aligned with CENTRO’s editorial mission.
Puerto Rican Voices is a TV program directed to the Puerto Rican and US-based audience. As part of the City University of New York, and Center for Puerto Rican Voices we must also produce documentary episodes that are geared towards the educational sector. Filmmakers must also take into consideration that they must deliver an English version for TV and a Bilingual version for streaming. In summary, filmmakers must make sure that their program appeals:
- Puerto Rican audience
- US-based audience
- Educational sector
- English and Spanish speakers
Representation and inclusivity in Media
As an effort to address the lack of representation of People of Color in the media, the series Puerto Rican Voices has a strong mission of amplifying the representation and inclusivity of Afro-Latinx, Indigenous, Women, and LGBTQ+ voices in front of the camera. Filmmakers are expected to help us continue with this mission and privilege under-represented voices in their documentaries.
The so-called experts: Documentaries and journalist videos tend to include “expert” opinions to comment on the issues being discussed. These experts are usually white cis-gender males. Be creative with your “expert” selection, and decolonize this concept. Not all experts are people with prestigious academic degrees. There are also organic experts. Be inclusive and creative regarding your “voices of authority” on the topics.
In Puerto Rican Voices we foster intersectional approaches to our stories, which take into consideration the intersections of race, class, and gender. The issues and topics portrayed in your documentary must be looked through an intersectional lens. This helps to make a more in-depth analysis, and develop unique points of views and angles for your stories.
Recommended reading: “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color” Kimberly Crenshaw
Factual and Balanced Information
As an academic and research institution, CENTRO requests that all information in the documentary episodes are factual and verified. In the case that the information presented cannot be verified, we require transparency about the lack of knowledge or available information. To assist creators in this process, CENTRO’s data-hub researchers may help with specific information requests. As a filmmaker cannot make a story pushing for a specific political ideal or opinion, because this subtracts credibility to the work. Rather, we encourage filmmakers to present the information based on facts, and let the audience develop with their own opinions and conclusions. Keep in mind that you are making an investigative documentary, and not a propaganda or publicity video.
Non-official sources: Not all factual information comes from official sources. We encourage creators to look for non-official and alternative sources of information that have credibility on the subjects being presented.
Balancing information for us doesn’t mean equal time for two opposing opinions. But you must recognize different thoughts in the investigation you are presenting. You, the filmmaker, can discern what information is relevant to the story based on facts, and logic. Like Amy Goodman says, she cannot bring a member of the Flat-Earth Society, everytime she makes a story about the Earth. But when there’s a strong opposing opinion, you must at-least recognize the view of the other side and address it in some way.
Holding people in power accountable
Puerto Rican Voices seeks to develop strong investigations for the episodes. In many instances, strong investigations come alongside questioning those in power and demanding transparency from governments and corporations. Use your power as a filmmaker or journalist to demand accountability from those in power.
Colonial Context of Puerto Rico
We understand that colonialism is a central theme of discussion across all topics in Puerto Rico. We cannot tell a Puerto Rican story, without taking in consideration its colonial context. All episodes must look at how the relationship between the US and Puerto Rico affects the characters of the documentary, and the role that colonialism plays in the issue being portrayed. Try to answer the question: What does colonialism have to do with the story in my documentary episode?
No Disaster Porn
As part of our ethics, Puerto Rican Voices aims to not reproduce insensible and/or exploitative images of Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans, which are often portrayed in the corporate media. The representation of the subjects and communities in your documentary must be made with respect and dignity without victimizing your subjects. If you’re filming subjects in difficult situations, always ask before filming them. Do not represent people struggling in forms that they would not consent to.
When necessary, speak to your subjects and be transparent with your creative intentions.
Pre-Production and Development
Research and Investigation: Producers and directors of Puerto Rican Voices are expected to conduct proper amounts of research in preparation for production. As an academic institution, our filmmakers must also be great investigators who have expertise (or become experts) in the topics or themes they are showcasing in their documentary episodes.
Producers may hire a principal investigator or research assistant with their budget in case they need assistance with the research burden.
Producers can also request information or consult specific data with CENTRO’s Data Hub.
A production plan must be delivered to the executive producers for approval prior to beginning production. A production plan must contain scenes, characters, locations, and expected recording dates.
Please follow our production schedule template: TBD
Creative Disclaimer: The following guidelines are not aimed to limit the creativity of filmmakers, but to set an standardized set of practices for the series as a whole. Creators can get as creative as they wish while still following the standardized set of practices of the series. If the directors find that any of these are limiting the power of the story they want to tell or artistic approach, please discuss your concerns with the executive producers.
Although the Puerto Rican Voices series is produced mainly for television, the cinematography of the show aims to look more like cinema. Please keep in mind that you are shooting a movie when making your documentary episode. Make sure that you have great compositions, depth-of-field, and good lighting. We understand that in documentaries, the director cannot control everything, and sometimes it must improvise, adapt, and work with what’s available to make the shot. But as much as possible please try to maintain a cinematographic quality.
When possible, please do your shots on the tripod. Only make handheld shots when it’s absolutely necessary.
Don’t do classic television shots:
Instead, do more cinematic shots:
- Pedestal or boom
- Dolly in
- Dolly out
Formal Sit-down/Standing interviews:
- These interviews are done on a tripod.
- These interviews must be framed between Medium-shots and Close-ups.
- Preferably these shots have depth-of-field whenever possible.
- The subject must be framed leaving headroom in front of the subject.
- The subject must be looking at the interviews. Never into the camera.
Tracking interviews: Directors can also do tracking interviews and follow a subject throughout a specific space as they are interviewing them. This is especially useful when the subject is showing something to the viewer or performing a specific task.
DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE IMPORTANCE OF NATURAL SOUNDS!
Record audio on every image: We recommend filmmakers to record audio on every image (except on drones). This makes it easier for the post-production process, and will help not to go back to the field to record natural sounds later on.
Record ambience sound: Make sure to record clean ambience sound after each interview or after each scene.
Put a lavalier mic on your subject or use a uni-directional Boom microphone: We prefer crisp sound when it comes to listening to the subject, make sure that you subject’s voice is as clear as possible during the production process.
Don’t use handheld microphones: Please use handheld microphones unless you encounter yourself in an emergency and have no other choice.
The executive producers of the show request producers of episodes to make call sheets for each production day. Send call sheets to the executive producers prior to recording, and save a copy for your own records.
You must get an on-screen release form for each person that appears in your documentary episode, and location release for each space that is not public.
You will also need a third-party content release in case that someone provides you audiovisual content in the field or you record someone’s images or videos.
Producers must use Puerto Rican Voices Release Templates.
*Releases must be delivered after the production is completed, no production will be aired until CENTRO and the executive producers receive the necessary releases.
On-camera release/consent is accepted when someone that passer-by subjects, which the producers were not planning to record.
Once filmmakers reach the post-production stage, they must submit to the executive producers:
- Rough cut
- Fine cut
- Final Cut alongside all media deliverables
Filmmakers agree to work alongside executive producers to fulfill the editorial and storytelling objectives of Puerto Rican Voices and the CENTRO. Executive producers reserve the right to request changes that the filmmaker must employ in the case that these don’t comply with the production guidelines of Puerto Rican Voices.
Executive producers must approve final cut, before the work airs and is considered finalized.
Puerto Rican Voices episodes are built by scenes. We expect directors to work alongside editors to make well-constructed scenes. Is not about the amount of information presented, but that the information presented in the documentary is understandable for a Puerto Rican and US viewership. Please keep in mind that you are speaking to a national audience, and your documentary episode must be suited for both English and Spanish speaking audience. Bear in mind this specially when using you are including text on-screen.
Archival Use and Third-Party Content
Limit yourself from using archival footage or third-party content. It’s best if all material is original for the show. In the case that you need to use archival or third-party content you must have clearances for all materials and identify the timecodes where that material is being used.
Please use the following clearance form: TBD
Producers must use Puerto Rican Voices soundtrack, unless another agreement has been made with the executive producers. If a producer plans to bring their own music composer, they must describe how the music soundtrack will maintain the series soundscape, and why they want to bring an original music composer.
Royalty-free music: Please refrain from using royalty-free music. All music of the series must be original.
Third-Party music: If you are featuring a song from a third-party artist/musician in the documentary episode, the producer must have all the rights-cleared for broadcast and online streaming.
Centro will provide the following set of graphics templates to be incorporated in the episodes. Producers must use these templates when making:
Animations and graphics
If your episode contains animations, make sure that they are not heavy on text. Keep in mind that this series is directed towards a Spanish, English speaking and bilingual viewership. Creators must have in consideration that the text in the animations will need to be subtitled.
Animations services will be made by CENTRO staff, each producer is entitled to up to five animations for their episode.
All on-screen text must be made with CENTRO’s official fonts: link TBD Post production package
Producers will be responsible to deliver a color corrected cut, which complies with TV broadcast industry standards.
Consider Néstor Salomón to be doing audio
Subtitles and Captions
The Center for Puerto Rican Voices will provide translation services. However, the producer is responsible for incorporating the subtitles into the finished episode and delivering them in .srt. Puerto Rican Voices is subtitled for both Spanish and English speakers. Therefore Spanish and English subtitles must be included.
City University of New York will provide captioning services, once the picture-lock cut is completed.
- Contract materials packet for all crew working on the film (including the producer), which includes the following:
- CV or Resume
- Signed W-9 tax form
- Scope of Work (dated with the days that the work will be performed)
- List of past clients (dated)
The producer cannot begin production, until all contract documents have been delivered to the Human Resources Department or the executive producer.
- A production plan prior to start shooting.
- Raw footage of the footage shot (delivered to the executive producer). This material will be used for the Center of Puerto Rican Studies Archive, promotions, and additional content. If the producer wishes to put an embargo to the footage, they may do so.
- Screener of rough cut of the episode one month after 1st unit filming has concluded.
- Screener of fine cut of the episode two weeks after delivery of rough cut.
- Picture-lock of the episode two weeks after delivery of fine cut (delivered to the executive producer)
- The episode must be 24 minutes long including introduction and credits.
- The episode must be delivered in 1080p MXF 50mbps.
- Upon picture-lock the producer must deliver the following:
- Clean version of the episode.
- Dirty version of the episode.
- Rough audio-mix of the episode.
- Folder containing all sound of the cut on separate audio tracks.
- 5 stills, and 5 behind the scenes photographs.
- Signed releases or on-camera consent of participants recorded in video.