Filmmakers in Taiwan used to struggle when it came to telling a story that could resonate internationally. Things started to change when the 2017 drama series The Teenage Psychic (通靈少女), a collaboration between HBO Asia and Taiwanese Public Television Service (PTS), became a huge hit not just locally, but also internationally. The coming-of-age story was adapted from the 2013 PTS-produced short film The Busy Young Psychic (神算).
Entirely filmed in Taiwan, the Mandarin-language series even made it on HBO’s streaming platforms in the US.
It is proof that a well-told Taiwanese story can absolutely win the hearts and minds of hard-to-please international audiences in the ever-changing world of content consumption.
Early this year, another Taiwanese production, The Victims’ Game (誰是被害者), an eight-episode forensic crime thriller that is based on an award-winning 2015 Taiwanese novel, and stars some of Taiwan’s most prominent actors and actresses, has been one of the fastest-growing shows in audience demand on Netflix since its release in late April, being one of the most-streamed programs among major high-budget productions churned out by mega-hit powerhouses in the US, the UK and South Korea.
Despite the challenge of the global media-consumption landscape being ever-evolving and becoming extremely segmented, a smartly weaved and professionally executed story will always be in high demand.
With this newly gained confidence, and growing interest from local and international content investors, it is the perfect time for Taiwanese storytellers, working with scripted, but also non-scripted, stories, to proactively seek more international collaborations through coproduction and cofinancing.
As local, regional and international streaming platforms are offering international viewers more compelling stories from different countries and cultures, producers and directors in small-yet-sexy Taiwan are witnessing a rare golden opportunity to thrive beyond borders like never before.
Roger Cheng is a producer and director, and runs the content company Go Inside.
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