Films and television projects from Taiwan that garnered more attention on the global stage in recent years have given creators a confidence boost. But greater effort is necessary to sustain an international market for the island’s creative output in the long-run, according to local industry players.
The island’s lower production costs and constant supply of creative talent, who are able to tell stories freely across all spectrum of genres, could attract international players to invest and collaborate with local partners. That in turn can create content that will appeal to a wider audience and help the projects travel, Taiwan biz insiders say.
The fact that Chung Mong-hong’s acclaimed feature “A Sun” landed on the Academy Awards shortlist has not only raised overseas audiences’ curiosity over the content from the self-governed island, say industry insiders, but they also hope that the international fame will come with financing and collaboration opportunities with foreign partners.
Taiwan does not have an institutional film industry backed by large-scale film studios, says Yeh Jufeng, producer of “A Sun.” Filmmakers have been working largely independently. “Film financing has to be done on a project-by-
project basis and it is a struggle at times,” she says.
But the fame that “A Sun” has earned — including being named by Variety’s chief film critic Peter Debruge as his top choice of the best films of 2020 and promoted worldwide via streaming giant Netflix — might bring some changes.
“The success of ‘A Sun’ may attract foreign film companies or OTT platforms who are interested in investing in Taiwan productions or collaborating with local creative partners. We also hope that the local government will put greater emphasis on our industry,” Yeh tells Variety.
Besides the projects that have been shortlisted for the Oscar race, drama series have also earned recognition abroad. “76 Horror Bookstore — Tin Can of Fear,” a horror franchise from local content producer Studio76, has been screened internationally including Sitges Fantasy Film Fest in Spain and has won honors including best Asian horror series at Singapore’s Content Asia Awards. Success of the first season has led to the production of the second season, according to Studio76’s CEO and managing partner Dennis Yang.
“But we definitely need more to crack the international markets,” says Yang. Taiwan filmmakers and content producers are more experienced in selling their projects to platforms and cinemas in mainland China and other Chinese-speaking markets such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia, “but we need to grow more attention beyond this,” he notes.
Besides the support from Taiwan Creative Content Agency (TAICCA), an independent agency set up by the Ministry of Culture and the cabinet (known as the Executive Yuan) that helps local content creators to reach out to international buyers and audiences, co-producing with partners from abroad helps local projects breaking into other markets, Yang says.
Several original titles with co-investment from MyVideo, Taiwan Dentsu Agency and other local agencies have secured pre-sale licenses from Taiwan, mainland China and Southeast Asian markets, he notes.
Two new original series to be introduced at the Berlinale online market, “Fluffy Love,” which centers around a pet psychic, and romantic comedy “Meow Meow Boss” are hoped to generate greater response from international buyers, he adds.
But the key for Taiwan projects that tell local stories to break into the international markets lies with the creators, says Yeh, adding that success of one project should not change the original intent of creative projects. “We need to keep finding ways to tell local stories that can communicate with international audiences on an emotional level,” she says.