Despite being born with two-fingered hands and two-toed feet, an up-and-coming Taiwanese film director has forged a unique career path, starting as a cleaner before becoming the proprietor of a movie company.
In 2010, Yang Ching (陽靖) founded a movie firm and named it Taiwan Horn Movie, inspired by the shape of his hands and feet.
Born into a Christian family in Greater Tainan, Yang had a hard time finding a job after graduating from senior-high school.
Of the more than 100 job applications he sent out, Yang only received one response from a computer company saying it was willing to hire him as a cleaner.
Yang readily accepted the job offer, saying that “when there are no alternatives, no choices have to be made.”
He tried to put into practice the proverb “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” by squeezing in time to learn computer-related skills in his spare time. He later became a computer engineer.
After a period, Yang recognized the business opportunities offered by the burgeoning inkjet cartridge market, and started paying frequent visits to potential clients to advertise the product. His stellar sales figures quickly led him to being promoted to sales manager.
Over the course of three years, Yang accumulated assets worth more than NT$10 million (US$334,000) by the age of 21.
However, his success was short-lived.
At the peak of his business success, Yang met a woman who wheedled his savings out of him and left him about NT$6 million in debt.
As a result, Yang became depressed and lived an isolated life for several years. He did not recover from the incident until he was 28.
During that period, Yang saw a film, titled Conversations with God, an adaptation of US author Neale Donald Walsch’s bestseller of the same name, which Yang said struck a chord with him.
“I was amazed to realize that through the film, I was able to relive my life’s experiences,” Yang said, adding that the movie also planted the idea of becoming a film director in his mind.
Although Yang had set up and run several businesses including a copy shop, a printing house and a wedding documentary company, his passion for making movies never faded and finally spurred him on to start Taiwan Horn Movie in 2010.
“I have a simple philosophy, which is to do first and think later,” Yang said.
With that philosophy in mind, Yang spent nearly four years making his first movie, Love Clue (愛情線索), which premiered on March 29.
Set in Greater Kaohsiung, the film centers on the essence of love and was funded by small donations amounting to NT$18 million that Yang solicited by holding more than 2,000 forums nationwide.
In an effort to boost box office sales, Yang and the actress who plays the role of the movie’s female protagonist, Kitty, had to persuade theater proprietors to screen the film for a longer period.
However, they are still worried that their brainchild could take a backseat to Marvel Studios’ Iron Man 3 after the blockbuster sequel makes its national debut on April 24.
After learning about Yang’s predicaments, the Greater Tainan Government — which has worked to promote the nation’s film industry — booked an entire theater at the Tainan branch of the Shin Kong Cineplex on April 4 and Sunday last week, presenting two sessions of free showings of the movie as a marketing exercise.
The city government also called on the public to watch the movie in theaters and support Taiwanese movies.