Taiwan’s Screenworks Asia Positions Itself as Development Hub for Regional Content
At launch in July, the company said that it was involved in six projects. They included “The Making of An Ordinary Woman II,” a sequel to one of the most successful Mandarin-speaking drama series of 2019, and “Chi,” a TV drama adapted from martial arts short film “The Method of Breathing,” by cutting-edge director Liu Yi.
Two of the company’s executives were Thursday involved in panel discussions that formed part of the Taiwan Creative Content Fest (TCCF). Catchplay CEO Daphne Yang spoke on the role of streaming companies, while Screenworks Asia’s director of content production, spoke on strategies for identifying investment targets. After her session, Chen shared some of Screenworks’ methodology with Variety.
“There will be cases where we originate concepts and ideas, and then find writers and directors to work with us. But we also accept pitch and projects from outside. We are actually quite flexible,” she said.
“Since Screenworks is a joint venture with TAICCA, the projects within Screenworks have to be under a big framework with Taiwan elements, such as Taiwan talents, Taiwan stories, and so on,” said Chen. “But we don’t really set criteria such as minimum or maximum budget size or where it must shoot. The most important things to us are the story, the team, and if the project works for both the local and international markets.”
“We don’t require sales agents or local distributors to be attached at the time when we get involved (as proof of commercial viability). Our strategy is a bit different. We prefer to invest a development fund for each project so that we can develop the project until we think it’s ready to pitch to other potential investors,” said Chen. “Of course, when we start the development, we believe in the commercial potential.”
Taiwan these days is keen to position itself as a place to make international content, and so a cross-border outlook is important to Screenworks’ investments, even if treaty co-productions remain problematic because of Taiwan’s diplomatic status.
“We are very keen on working with international partners. We are talking to companies including (Korea’s) CJ and TVN, (Singapore’s) MediaCorp, (Hong Kong’s ViuTV and (pan-Asia pay-TV group) HBO about collaboration, and hope we will have some exciting updates soon.
“With Catchplay’s strong presence in Indonesia, we are also about what we can do between Taiwan and Indonesia. But we also don’t want to force unnatural collaborations. And if we can’t find a correct way to make such collaboration happen, we will still go ahead with productions suitable for Indonesia under Catchplay alone.”