Screenworks Asia to Capitalize on Taiwan’s Success as Production Hub

Vivienne Chow

Taiwan, one of the few places in the world that did not shut its cinemas or production industries due to the coronavirus, is intent on ramping up the volume of film and TV that is made on and with the self-governed island.

A new government initiative will support an additional 100 hours per year of original content, has already attracted the support of streamers and pay-TV operators around the Asia region.

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Wednesday saw the launch of Screenworks Asia, a joint venture between the Taiwan Creative Content Agency (TAICCA) and Catchplay, a local film distributor and streaming firm, whose Catchplay Plus streamer claims 6 million subscribers in Taiwan, Singapore and Indonesia.

Backed with funding from the National Development Fund, Screenworks Asia will produce original content ranging from mini-series and movies to factual entertainment. It says it will place a strong emphasis on “premium original entertainment content targeting international audiences.”

Among the first batch of projects announced are: “The Making of An Ordinary Woman II,” a sequel to 2019 top-rated series from Taiwan’s China Television System; and two projects being co-produced with ViuTV, the Hong Kong-based firm that has become one of Asia’s most successful streamers due to a lineup dominated by local content.

“Investing in the development of Taiwanese films, TAICCA hopes to leverage Catchplay’s international distribution channels and reverse long-standing trends by exporting (more) Taiwan-produced films, resonating with its strategy of internationalization and brand creation,” said TAICCA chairperson Ting Hsiao-ching at a launch event.

“It’s time to leverage our experience from the international market to bring Taiwan’s original works to the world,” said Catchplay CEO Daphne Yang. “(We will apply) what we’ve learned from the international content industry to help introduce the best Taiwanese talent and their stories to the world.”

With mainland China still a tricky partner for regional co-productions, and the once dominant Hong Kong industry going through a slump, Taiwan has in recent years offered a cheaper and more convenient center for Chinese-language productions initiated by non-mainland companies. HBO Asia, Fox International Productions, Netflix, Viu and MM2 have all produced shows in Taiwan in the last couple of years.

The two new Viu projects are 15-hour crime drama “Mystify in Dust,” that has now begun production, and “Chi,” a mini-series on martial arts that is targeting a millennial audience.

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