An estimated NT$1.5 billion (US$53.4 million) is to be set aside in next year’s budget to purchase the Fuhsingkang Chinese Film Production facility in Taipei’s Beitou District (北投) from the Ministry of National Defense, so that it can be repurposed for the Taipei City Government’s Film and Audio Production Park next year, the Taipei City Council’s planning review committee said on Thursday last week.
The park was proposed by the Taipei City Government’s Department of Cultural Affairs in a bid to build a flagship facility for movies and backstage productions, as well as for making music and other cultural activities on the land owned by the firm.
The production firm was founded in 1933 in China and relocated to Taiwan in 1949 along with the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government. It reached its peak in 1965, when it produced hit movies such as Storm over the Yangtze River (揚子江風雲) and The Story of Tin-Ying (緹縈), as well as the TV series Hanliu (寒流). The company closed down after making its last film in 1995.
The facility also used to house a Western restaurant called Bolero that was used by many directors for scenes that needed to portray the atmosphere and feel of early Taiwan. The restaurant was featured in TV drama The Songs of Soil (歌謠風華～初聲), a show set in the 1920s that ran from 2011 to last year and told the story of Teng Yu-hsien (鄧雨賢) — who is known as the father of Taiwanese folk songs — as well as Forever Love (阿嬤的夢中情人), a film in Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese) set in the 1960 and 1970s.
While some Taipei City councilors approved of the park project, saying it could help to further develop the surrounding areas, other councilors and film industry workers said that if there was not sufficient investment in software or strong enough government policy to support the plan, the project would be a waste of money because the majority of the nation’s film studios are used to shoot commercials and advertisements.
Taipei City Councilor Ho Chih-wei (何志偉) said that some directors had told him that the department ignored several suggestions filmmakers had made during the planning phase for the park, adding that he worried the city government was being narrow-minded.
Despite this, Ho said he was optimistic about the facility and wished the repurposing project would be carried out faster, although he added that the city government should work closely with academics and industry members.
Department Commissioner Liu Wei-gong (劉維公) said that the city government had originally hoped the ministry would let it use the land without providing further payment, or allow it to use the land in exchange for an equivalent plot elsewhere.
However, the ministry had declined both offers, citing straitened finances due to the planned shift from mandatory military service to a completely voluntary service, Liu said.
Regardless, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) instructed the city government to purchase and manage the land, Liu said, adding that the digital industry was a trend of the future for Taiwan and it should take steps to develop the sector.
Liu said the Chinese Film Production firm has two studios in Beitou and a small live-shoot studio in a science park in Neihu District (內湖).
Music companies, app software developers and digital publications have a need for studios, Liu said, adding that he was not worried about building too many, but instead was concerned that the facilities currently availble in Taipei would not be sufficient to cater to the expected surge in demand for digital services.