Taiwan’s production sector remained vibrant for a long period of the pandemic as the country was able to keep the virus at bay.
In April 2021, France-based director Rachid Hami (La Melodie) travelled from France to Taiwan and spent 14 days in quarantine ahead of location scouting. He intended to shoot a third of his latest feature For The Country in Taiwan, including at nightclubs and on streets in Taipei and with the Indigenous community in mountainous Wulai. “It is emotional to make the film in Taiwan as it’s based on a true story about my late brother, who came to Taiwan to learn Mandarin in 2010,” says Hami.
However, coronavirus cases flared in mid-May and led to heightened lockdown measures. Foreign nationals were subsequently barred from entering Taiwan, which created disruption to incoming shoots including For The Country and UK thriller Sapphire from writer/directors Daniel and Matthew Wolfe.
Taipei Film Commission says borders should reopen by the end of the year. As of late September, 50% of Taiwan’s 23.5 million population has received their first vaccine, and the numbers were expected to reach 70% by the end of October.
Moneyboys, which premiered at Cannes in July, marked one of the first international projects to receive investment from the inaugural Taipei Film Fund in 2019. The LGBTQ+ debut feature of Austria-based Chinese filmmaker CB Yi is an Austria-France-Taiwan-Belgium co-production and was filmed entirely in Taiwan before the Covid-19 outbreak.
Local productions were mostly spared disruption from the pandemic throughout much of last year thanks to low infection rates. Crime series Trinity Of Shadows, a collaboration between WarnerMedia, Taiwan’s Catchplay and Hong Kong’s ViuTV, enjoyed a smooth filming process between July and October 2020.
Apart from a few street shots in Hong Kong, the show was primarily filmed around Taipei including the Tamsui Old Street, Xinyi shopping district and New Taipei City Council. Trinity Of Shadows is produced by Taiwan’s David Tang and directed by Taiwanese filmmaker Hong Bo-Hao (Dad’s Suit).
“Taiwan, with its long history of film and television production, has a good source of creative professions, both in front of and behind the camera,” says Magdalene Ew, WarnerMedia’s head of content, entertainment, in Southeast Asia and Taiwan. “The local government has been very supportive of producing local content and its variety and diverse locations, from natural landscapes to modern cityscapes, are ideal backdrops for all kinds of shoots.”
"While it is not a big place, its natural landscapes span from seaside to mountains, rural villages to modern city, providing very diversified locations,” adds Kam-Engle.
Many productions shoot in the capital city Taipei, which ticks all the boxes for ‘buzzing Asian metropolis’ but is less crowded and easier to navigate than some cities in Asia.
Taiwan’s first specialist medical studio opened in March by Awesomeworks Production with the support of TAICCA. Located in New Taipei City, the facility is equipped with hospital beds, medical equipment, operating tables, waiting rooms and cashier counters, complete with extra space for crew, lighting, hair and makeup.
The high-speed rail runs along the west coast, covering 345 kilometres in about 1 hour 45 minutes. Major cities including Taipei, Taichung and Kaohsiung have international airports and local metro lines. Most of the popular filming locations are within a 30-45 minute drive from downtown.