Two-time Oscar-winning director Ang Lee (李安) says Taiwanese companies are capable of creating visual effects for films, but face strong competition from other countries.
“Visual effects is definitely something Taiwan can do,” Lee said on Thursday in Taipei.
However, Taiwan could lose its competitiveness and lag behind countries such as India, Malaysia, Singapore and China if it does not pay attention to industry trends, Lee said. He said Taiwan has many advantages, but its film industry is like “a sheet of loose sand.”
“Everyone is starting from the beginning. Experience cannot be passed down, nor amount to anything,” Lee said. “I think it is a huge pity.”
The 58-year-old New York-based director said the nation needs to develop all aspects of its film sector because one does not know when or how the different parts would form “an organic combination.”
“The government needs to be our spine. It [the industry] will develop naturally in good times, but the government needs to help support it during the bad times, so that the industry can keep on going,” he said.
Lee said Taiwanese filmmakers are also in “great need” of a dedicated film studio and his decision to film Life of Pi in Greater Taichung was part of a desire to create such a studio.
More than 70 percent of the 3D film was shot in Taiwan. The film won four Oscars in February, including a second best-director Oscar for Lee.
Lee said he believes that Taiwan has the soft power and talent to produce films on many different scales.
“From pre-production and post-production to shooting, I think Taiwan is capable. Life of Pi is proof of that,” he said.
He also threw his weight behind the Ministry of Culture’s plan to increase subsidies for documentaries.
“I think for Taiwan, documentary films record our lives. They record our thoughts, experiences and mentality, which is very important,” he said.
Lee urged the government not to reduce its budget for cultural activities and, if possible, to “add a little more,” so that the film industry in Taiwan could prosper.
“The government’s encouragement, as well as the support and understanding of audiences, is needed” in order for documentaries to thrive, Lee said, referring to himself as a “layman” in that genre.
He said the ministry should consult more with veteran filmmakers and other industry representatives when formulating its policies.
Lee also advised the ministry to screen more documentaries on TV and on new media channels, not just in theaters, Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) said.
The ministry plans to spend NT$500 million (US$16.99 million) over the next five years to subsidize local documentary projects, Lung said.