Sunday, October 07, 2007

Taiwan's Movie Industry Malaise

Looks like Krosa has downgraded to an ordinary typhoon, good news for the island....meanwhile Variety offers some typhoon relief in the form of a view of Taiwan's movie industry that blames the government's inability to back the industry as a major impediment to its expansion:

In 2003, following the rare B.O. success of Columbia-backed thriller "Double Vision," GIO said funding would favor bigger-budget and commercially oriented pictures and that it would open its Domestic Film Guidance pool to films that were international co-productions. Later, GIO minister Pasuya Yao switched the emphasis to quantity, setting out plans for 100 movies a year. More recently, another GIO minister, Cheng Wen-tsan, said the focus should be on big-budget pics and TV series.

In 2004, GIO talked of creating a tax-funding scheme similar to ones on offer in Europe (businesses producing films with one-third of the cast Taiwanese and using Taiwanese locations for one-third of screen time would qualify for income tax credits). But to date, the system has proved unwieldy.

Wang Ying-hsiang, who heads producer-distrib Long Shong Pictures and is also prexy of the Chinese Movie & TV Union Federation, says that, despite the muddles, the government is trying to help.

He adds that under the latest structure, the government has allocated a total of NT600 million ($18.2 million) over a five-year period for productions. Of this, $3 million will be given as grants with evaluation based on script quality. The remainder will be provided as loans with very soft repayment terms and no upper limit to the size of the advance. Co-productions will be eligible with funding provided through the Taiwanese shingle.

Some 500 projects have been submitted for funding approval, but a new hurdle is the ankling of GIO's Dept. of Motion Pictures director Peggy Chou, who has yet to be replaced.

"Our problems have much to do with the legacy of Taiwan's entry into the World Trade Organization," Wang says. "Our movies are classified as services, which limits the way that government can aid the sector. Our battle must be to have them reclassified as cultural goods in the way that they are in some other countries."
The government seems to have missed a good opportunity here to market Taiwan in ways that can reach millions.


TheTK said...

Did you see this one?

Anonymous said...

Can we take care of the television industry here first? I enjoy some programs, but there seems to be WAY too many of those talk shows with the guest panel, canned laughter, bozo sound effects, deng, deng format. Who's producing this stuff? How 'bout a couple sitcoms? Oh, and what's with that nightly talk show hosted by the guy (Li Tao) who talks and dresses EXACTLY like Larry King?? His set even has that starry-nightline backdrop! His call-in segment is also very LK-esque....

nosta said...

This is a sad missed opportunity indeed. Taiwan was once the envy of the arthouse movie world. Not any more, thanks to the WTO....Welcome to the Warner Village.

Mark said...

Japan's part of the WTO and still managing to promote its movies and culture all over the world.

The problem is that the locals prefer Hollywood productions. I love Taiwanese and HK movies, but most my Taiwanese friends would rather be watching whatever US action/comedy/whatever flick is huge at the moment.

Anonymous said...


In response to your comment about TV production in Taiwan, I thought I would add a few comments for background info.

Taiwan was the first media market in the world to adopt Nielsen peoplemeter and is the only media market where the currency (the standard measure to determine advertising rates) is "commercial rating". In the US, the currency is "live rating". The difference is advertisers in the US pay for 30 second ad based on the rating the program receives during that 30 or 60 minutes. Whereas in Taiwan, advertisers pay for the 30 second spot based on the rating of that 30 second commercial. As you can see, this has a very significant impact on the type of programming you see in Taiwan. Producers in Taiwan are constantly under pressure by TV stations to deliver contents that can "hold" audience during the commercial break. In practical terms, this means lots talk shows with heated (and often mean spirited) debates, variety shows that mainly ridicules rather than entertain, and of course 'news' channel that is all blood and gore and false rumors all the time. All in the hopes that audience will not switch channel while the commercial is on. Also ever notice the TV screen in Taiwan is covered with text scrolls 3 sides? Blame Nielsen "commercial rating" too... If they show you ads while you are watching the shows, they get to charge full price.

And finally and most importantly, filmed entertainment production and broadcast sectors in Taiwan are one of the same. The soap operas and the variety shows on the 4 broadcast networks are produced in-house, as are most programming on cable. As a result, there is no competition amongst producers to improve quality since their shows have guaranteed buyer. And because low quality production persists, the Taiwan audience has never been exposed to high quality Chinese language content to know otherwise.

Anonymous said...


I appreciate the response! Very interesting information. It really makes sense, now that you've explained it. Just curious...have you worked in the Taiwan TV industry?

I really enjoy Taiwan, and I have fun laughing at the programming here sometimes. Some of it it great, but some is just annoying, like I said...Maybe it's just my general disdain for celebrities, no matter where I am....I mean, 'Blackie'? Who is this guy? Small S and Big S? Wow.