Taiwan is making an ambitious move at this year’s Mipcom to further its status as a hub for Chinese-language productions and strengthen its presence on the international stage with a virtual pavilion presenting 30 local productions to global buyers.
Headlining the pavilion is “The Magician on the Skywalk,” from Taiwan’s Public Television Service (PTS). Directed by the Golden Horse award-winning filmmaker Yang Ya-Che (“GF*BF,” “The Bold, the Corrupt and the Beautiful”), the series is a screen adaptation of the novel of the same name by renowned author Wu Ming-yi with a budget of $650,000 per episode, a record figure for a Taiwanese production.
Taiwan-based Studio76 will put forward a slate of five titles at Mipcom. They include the romantic fantasy “Meow Meow Boss,” comprising seven 15-minute mini-episodes; “Fluffy Love,” a comedy series with eight 15-minute mini-episodes; the crime suspenser “Kill for Love”; “Fly the Jumper,” a youth drama centering around a basketball team; and horror series “76 Horror Bookstore — Tin of Fear” (pictured). Studio76 previously told Variety that some of its productions could be presented either as one full-length feature or could be edited to multi-episode series.
The Taiwan pavilion at Mipcom will also play the role of cultivating international co-production opportunities with the West to bring Taiwan content to a wider audience, says Ching-Fang Hu, president of Taiwan Creative Content Agency (TAICCA), which stages the Mipcom pavilion for the first time.
“We see international co-production as a new way to approach the global market. At the moment, we are discussing co-production and talent training programs with several European partners,” Hu tells Variety.
TAICCA is an independent agency set up by the Ministry of Culture and the cabinet (Executive Yuan) last year and it has been actively promoting the self-governed island’s cultural and creative content globally. Most recently, the agency played a key part in pushing Taiwan’s virtual reality productions at the Venice Film Festival. It was also responsible for championing Taiwan’s series productions at Hong Kong’s FilMart, which was postponed from its usual March slot to August due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
A series of online exhibitions and virtual meetings have been planned for the digital edition of Mipcom, which runs Oct. 12-16, Hu says. She also assured industry players from abroad that Taiwan is a friendly place for creative projects.
“Developing projects in Taiwan means guaranteed creative freedom for producers, which [makes] Taiwan the engine of the Chinese-language creative content industry,” says Hu, who is also an accomplished author and former head of Kwang Hwa Information and Culture Center, an agency under the Ministry of Culture that promotes arts and culture in Hong Kong.
Being the first in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage, Taiwan does not shy away from social taboos, Hu says, adding that cultural productions that empower minorities, such as series related to LBGTQ topics, often gained recognition from locally and abroad.
Growing interests in Taiwan from international players, such as Netflix and HBO, have helped to boost the island’s OTT market and local productions, Hu says. In just three years, Netflix increased its Taiwan titles to more than 100, and HBO has already produced five original series on the island.
The production budgets have also increased dramatically, says Hu. Prior to the domination of OTT, one episode cost about $65,000 to produce, she says. “But now the average budget has almost doubled, and some production houses are willing to spend around $300,000 per episode,” she notes.
She says the record budget for “The Magician on the Skywalk” has raised the bar for Taiwan productions, not only boosting the market value of the island’s creative industry but is also a landmark series that opens up the future of literary adaptation.