“If it were not for the charisma and the will of [Seediq Bale director] Wei Te-sheng (魏德聖), Taiwan could not have completed a film on Seediq Bale’s level,” recording artist Tu Duu-chih (杜篤之) said after working with Wei, adding that taking part in a film of such epic proportions meant he had to “give it all that I’ve got.”
Based on the 1930 Wushe Incident, Seediq Bale tells the story of an uprising led by Mona Rudao, an Aboriginal of the Sediq tribe, against the Japanese colonial government.
Before the film was made, Tu said Wei, the director of the 2008 blockbuster Cape No. 7, had spent NT$2 million (US$68,900) on a five-minute film telling the public of his dream of shooting the epic movie.
“Who would spend NT$2 million before the film actually got under way?” Tu asked, saying “it was this almost fanatical determination that moved everyone around him.”
Without the success of Cape No. 7 in 2008, the production of Seediq Bale would still be a long way off, Tu said, adding that despite the earlier film’s success, Seediq Bale was still a difficult project to undertake.
First, in August 2009 Typhoon Morakot destroyed the original set, causing the film’s estimated budget to skyrocket to NT$600 million from the original NT$200 million, Tu said.
However, Wei continued shooting the film while searching for people to bankroll the film, even though he was constantly ridiculed along the way, Tu said.
Wei’s charisma is a result of his passion and determination, Tu said, adding that 10 months before shooting the film, the sound editing team still hadn’t received any money.
It was well known that Wei was under severe financial pressure and was millions of NT dollars in debt, but people continued to have faith in him, believing that he would not skip out on the bill and that he would pay their wages when he had the money, Tu said.
Without that kind of determination and will, Taiwan wouldn’t have been able to film Seediq Bale, Tu said.
Tu said it has been many years since Taiwan has made a war movie, and sound recording techniques have come a long way since then. Every sound in Seediq Bale portrays a strength and quality of sound recording never seen in a Taiwanese movie before, Tu said, adding that this would be a first for Taiwanese cinema.
“The most important thing is that all of Taiwan is focused on this film, and that the work that went into the details was no less than in a Hollywood-level film; and most importantly, it must not disgrace Taiwan,” Tu said.
“How many people in Taiwan can actually understand the Seediq language?” Tu asked, but said that “Wei stressed that the details should make the audience feel as if they were in the movie,” so he insisted that the actors learn how to speak Seediq while filming the movie.
In the latter part of film production, Wei often made actors do more than one take to get the Seediq-language dialogue scenes perfect, Tu said.
“I feel honored,” Tu said when asked how he felt about working with Wei for two years to produce the film.
Translated by Jake Chung, Staff Writer