The second half of 2016 has been a busy time for the production assistance crew of Taipei Film Commission (TFC). Apart from the wrap-up of Jackie Chan’s latest sci-fi action thriller Bleeding Steel after a month of shooting in Taipei, with many projects returning to pre-production and beginning filming, workload from location scouting, inquiries, and assistance applications keeps increasing. The two typhoons in the past month further caused last-minute scheduling changes from film crews, overwhelming TFC’s staff.
One BBC documentary production, for instance, canceled an item in their shooting itinerary due to one of the typhoons. The British crew comprised five people - two camera operators, a sound engineer, a director, and an actor. Upon arrival, they were even stranded in Taoyuan International Airport by the storm. The weather forced them to complete their production assistance application in one hour for their MRT scene between Zhongxiao Dunhua Station and Da’an Road. The shoot ran smoothly thanks to the committed staff at MRT.
An international co-production about Tetsuhiko Asai, the father of karate in Taiwan, that commemorates the 10th anniversary of his death was also affected by the typhoon. Shooting was planned at Bopiliao, with one day of shooting and two days of constructing exterior and interior sets. Bopiliao’s staff helped the film crew complete production assistance application in three days; however, the crew still had to disassemble the set and restore the location in the storm. The main crew came from Japan, with assistants hired in Taiwan, and the Taiwanese personnel learned a lot from the professionalism of the Japanese team.
In addition, a commercial was also shooting in Bopiliao. The two typhoon days-off affected the process of application, and fortunately the location management allowed the application flexibility so that the shooting could be successfully completed. However, the British-Italian bicycling show Bike Channel, was not as lucky. Originally scheduled to shoot in Taipei for one month, the production abandoned the plan after the first typhoon due to budgetary concerns.
Apart from force majeure, factors that affected filming included the mobile game Pokémon GO. The Hong Kong director of the round-island trip film Diary Round-Island (unofficial) wanted to close a road in Beitou for filming. However, because the road only had one lane for each direction, road closure during the day would force pedestrians and vehicles to take detours, police authorities declined the application, noting that the area was also a hotspot for Pokémon GO players, which had already put strain on police resources. This project still requires further negotiations.
Also filming in Beitou is Ho Wi Ding’s new film Cities of Last Things. The production originally applied for police cars from Beitou Precinct; however, due to workload from handling Pokémon GO, the precinct was unable to help. Fortunately, director Tsai of public relations and detective Liu of Taipei City Police Department referred the production to other agencies, so that filming could be successful.
There were nonetheless joys during productions. For instance, when filming for Smiling Cups took place on the hilly Fude Street, Xinyi District, because no alternative roads were available, the crew had to settle for intermittent street closure. The all-day filming affected residents who were going to the market and hiking. Therefore, five or six members of the auxiliary traffic police were there to help, while a stunt double performed a scene in which a vegetable stand was run over during a vehicular chase. The day’s filming was successful, yet there were a lot of extra vegetables prepared as props. To thank the residents for their understanding, the crew gave the vegetables away to them and also to those who happened to pass by.
HBO Asia’s series The Psychic, on the other hand, shot for two days on Xing’ai Road, Neihu District, with the help of two police cars from Neihu Precinct. Unfortunately, the unstable weather brought rain from the morning to 10 in the evening. The crew had to wait until the middle of the night to start shooting until dawn. When filming the final scene, the only cast member on the scene was lead actress Kuo Shu-yao. To her surprise, after the director yelled cut, five or six other actors showed up to congratulate her. It turned out that the actors hid in their cars the whole night for the surprise, which delighted Kuo and the crew.