For filmmakers Taiwan is a good alternative to Japan, China, Hong Kong and South Korea as the costs are much lower and the quality of crew and services is strong. The country's culture offers a rich social and cultural variety which is the result of the blending of Taiwanese, Hakka and mainland Chinese cultures.
One of the other great attractions of Taiwan is that it hosts a variety of great locations, full of natural beauty, from mountains and temples to buzzing city markets. The wide variety of locations is especially impressive given the relatively small country size of just under 14,000 square miles.
Transport is quicker and calmer than in major cities elsewhere in Asia and as everything is so close together you can get to destinations more quickly. Crews are notoriously hard-working but not all will be fluent in English, although translators are sometimes available.
The Taipei Film Commission is partly funded by the government and the best starting point for producers looking to film in the country.
Netflix backed jailbreak drama Nowhere Man locally at the end of 2018 and at the start of 2019 filmed Triad Princess in Taipei and Kaohsiung.
Martin Scorsese’s Silence (2016), starring Liam Neeson and Andrew Garfield, saw Taiwan double for 17th-century Japan. The Assassin (2015), from critically acclaimed director Siao-Hsien Hou, used Taiwan as its backdrop.
If you are looking to film in Taiwan you can request a permit depending on where you are travelling from, the purpose of your filming and the duration of the shoot.
To film in certain landmarks or national parks in Taipei you will need to obtain a permit from the Taipei Film Commission. Applications to film at central government-owned or special interest buildings should be sent at least 15 days before filming commences.
You will also need to obtain a Production Concessionary Card from the Taipei Film Commission; this card will allow groups to film all round the country. The card will be specific to your production with last shoot day on it and will need to be returned before leaving the country.
If your crew is visiting on passports from western countries, you can enter Taiwan visa-free for up to 90 days, any longer and you would need a further visa.
Hong Chen Film Studio is Taiwan’s largest studio facility. With five different studios productions can build shops, streets as well as indoors and outside scenes for your needs. You can also rent lighting equipment through them.
Leader Asia Pacific Creativity Centre (LAPCC) is also a huge studio, with stages, sound stages, lighting rental and post production space. They can also look after any last-minute production needs.
Arrow Cinematic Group also hosts a double levelled stage as well as camera and lighting equipment.
Boasting a refurbishment of seven new sound studios, Fairlight Tu’s 3H Sound Studio caters to a vast array of post-production needs.
Taipei Postproduction can work with various mediums be it film, TV dramas, music videos or commercials. Their services include digital special EFX, negative confirming, film scanning 35mm and 16mm processing
One of Taiwan’s major strengths is that a variety of great locations are in close proximity to each other. You can get from green mountains to bamboo forests, tea plantations to volcanos and even the famous Jade Mountain which is beautifully snow-capped, all within an hour from each other.
Taiwan also has a range of landscapes that can be used for period films, just like Scorsese did with Yangmingshan Park in Silence (2016), when it doubled as 17th century Japan.
The best time to film weather-wise is from June to September during the hot season, it can be particularly cold in wintertime from October to December and the rainy season is from January to March.
The year of Taiwan’s beautiful festivals starts in February with the world famous Chinese New Year Lantern festival, when the skies are lit up with amazing red lanterns. In April, you can see the Ching Ming festival, which is also known as Tomb Sweeping Day. The Dragon Boat festival is in June and in September the Ghost and Moon festivals are celebrated.
Please note timing is everything with filming in Taiwan, public holidays and festivals can affect costs of crew, camera hire and location costs.
Taiwan has a wide range of the latest camera equipment to hand but it also has its advantages of being so close China, Hong Kong and Japan. This means if a certain or specific item is out of stock in Taiwan, it can be quickly transported over.
The same rules apply for crews, if anyone is needed at short notice or with certain credentials, crew members can be flown across rapidly. Taiwanese film crews are said to be broad and as well as being hard-working, each person has learnt above-their-role duties, which makes for a smoother production.
If you wish to bring your own equipment into Taiwan then you must get an ATA carnet.