Wei Te-Sheng’s ‘Taiwan Trilogy’ Sets Funding Record on Way to $155 Million Mega-Production

Wei Te-Sheng preprod on Taiwan Trilogy
ARS Production

Nearly 20,000 people have contributed over $3.4 million (NT$100 million) to a crowdfunding campaign to back award-winning filmmaker Wei Te-sheng’s (“Cape No. 7,” “Seedig Bale”) ambitious “Taiwan Trilogy” that retells the history of Taiwan from 400 years ago. The amount publicly raised is a record for a film project on the self-ruled island.

“Taiwan Trilogy,” which is expected to cost $157 million (NT$4.5 billion) to produce, is also the biggest and most expensive film project originated from Taiwan. To raise funds for the project, the production team led by Wei approached not only corporations for sponsorships but also launched the first phase of the crowdfunding campaign on August 5.

As of mid-day Thursday, some 19,004 people had promised NT$103 million, reaching the fundraising goal of NT$100 million two days before the first phase campaign was scheduled to be completed, according to the campaign’s website. Those who contributed this round of fundraising will be given a set of limited edition memorabilia from the first part of the trilogy.

Styled as “a gift to Taiwan,” Wei plans to recreate a world from a distant past and to tell the history of Taiwan from three different perspectives; in part one, “Siraya” the indigenous people; the Han pirates in “Teyouan”; and Dutch missionaries in “Formosa.”

In addition to the trilogy, this mega project collectively known as Taiwan 400 Years Film Series will also include an animated feature and a documentary, on how history and the fate of different peoples converged on the island during the Age of Discovery.

Wei completed the script of the trilogy back in 2000. But early pre-production did not begin until three years ago. Construction of the sets alone for “Siraya,” are estimated as costing $1 million (NT$30 million). Building begun last month on two hectares of reclaimed land in the southern port city of Kaohsiung.

The restored Madou Village will comprise more than 30 Sirayan houses made of wood, bamboo and straw, as well as a church, warehouses and gathering halls. Wei also told the media in Taiwan that plants that were commonly found on the Jianan Plain in southwestern Taiwan four centuries ago will be re-planted to recreate the habitat of Siraya people.

Shooting is expected to commence in August 2021, and the first part of the trilogy is aimed for a 2024 release, to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Taiwan. Japan’s Taneda Yohei and Hanatani Hidefumi, the duo who worked on “Kill Bill: Vol. 1” have joined as supervising production designer and production designer respectively. Chin Ting-Chang (“Cape No. 7,” “Prince of Tears”) is on board as director of photography. Christian Rajaud (“Wolf Totem”) serves as visual effects director.