From Taipei TV Festival to Taiwan Creative Content Fest

Last week marked the inaugural of Taiwan Creative Content Fest (TCCF) from November 17 to 22. The event previously Taipei TV Festival, was organized by the Taiwan Creative Content Agency (TAICCA), a government initiative to broaden the horizons of Taiwanese content and artists. Here are some highlights of the first edition.

The hybrid event took place at in 3 different locations within the vicinity in Xinyi District, Taipei City. The three main pillars of the event included:

(1) an international market, where buyers and sellers get to meet and discover latest series and formats available for sales and distribution. Due to Covid-19, there was a marked decrease in international buyers’ attendance and thus many turned to the online conference system, Microsoft Teams for meetings.

(2) an international forum, where content trends, consumer habits, identifying international co-production and investment opportunities were some of the hot topics of discussion between Taiwanese and international guest speakers.

(3) an exhibition to highlight and portray the core concept of TAICCA. It aims to tell a story through deconstructing storytelling elements required for content creation, then going a step further to highlight the part Taiwan’s technology prowess has to play in stimulating the future of the content industry.

Naturally, as international business travel greatly declined, the only program I was able to attend was the international forum, simultaneously broadcasted live over YouTube. TCCF touched upon a series of thought-provoking themes in all aspects of TV, film, music, production and technology with an international speaking panel. Guests from North America, Europe and other Asian countries participated despite the outrageous timezone differences.

Here were some of my takeaways:

  • During the session, “Virtual Entertainment Market: New Business Model Strategies”, Eric Fantone, Head of Studio at DV Group shared the concept of IXRT, through two examples that premiered at Cannes Film Festival. They were “Alice” and "Horrifically Real Virtuality”. The idea behind such content is creating an all-new immersive experiences with VR and AR. If you’re wondering what is XR, this article at Wired sums it all pretty well.

  • The “Content Market - Asia Pacific TV Industry Global View” was a pretty lengthy presentation by Ricky Ow, President of Warner Media Entertainment Networks APAC in Singapore, Hannah Lee, Studio Dragon’s Chief Producer in Seoul and Christophe Bruncher, Ici et La Productions/EAVE Producer in Paris. Ricky shared a general overview of HBO’s strategy with reference to successes with “The World Between Us” and “The Garden of Evening Mists”. He mentioned while HBO is open to diverse content ranging from series, formats, movies and documentaries, crime, horror and puppy love were genres reflecting the brand and resonated most with the HBO audience. Ricky also added the ingredients for content to travel internationally included a mix of strong marketing presence, authentic storytelling and deep connections. Hannah reiterated similar sentiments during her presentation but added it’s important to keep your target audience in mind throughout the entire production process, for them to relate, yet maintaining the story's novelty. She cited a few of Studio Dragon’s works but noted the two female leads of “It’s Okay Not To Be Okay” and “Crash Landing on You” had strong personalities, breaking away from the typical mold in the traditional Korean society, giving them extra appeal. Romance might also have been a theme, but wasn’t the main focus as the dramas explore deeper philosophical or society matters. Christophe’s work as a producer led him to start a Europe to Asia initiative, “Ties That Bind”, an annual program that aims to facilitate co-productions and build bridges between the European and Asian regions. The program calls for submissions every February and runs a series of workshops to develop film projects with support from consultants and experts in the production field. He too, echoed the points from Hannah in the storytelling process but highlighted the pros of utilizing government aid.

  • In the session, “International Collaboration - Cross Collaboration and Choice of Distribution Channels”, Daphne Yang, CEO of Catchplay, one of Taiwan’s most prominent entertainment content company that runs an OTT platform of the same name, highlights the importance of a clear target audience and how in the case of Catchplay, it was clear the platform was only looking at the top 30% of audience in the South East Asian region, with extra disposable income and are highly active on social media. In her words, content is king, but platform is queen, emphasizing the importance of end to end user experience.

  • In “Investment Opportunities: Strategies for Identifying Investment Targets”, the panel consisted of Dennis Yang, Managing Partner of Studio 76, the team behind “Kill For Love” and “76 Horror Bookstore”, Eva Liao, CEO for Angelic Founder, providing investment aid to Taiwanese production projects and Shaoyi Chen, Director of Content Production in Screenworks Asia, a joint venture between TAICCA and Catchplay to produce a wide range of content, originating from Taiwan, targeting an international audience.

Dennis spoke about the demand fo Chinese content overseas but highlights the varying needs in each market. His team’s keen efforts in search of themes resonating with a younger audience is likely a reason for the successes of “Kill For Love” and “76 Horror Bookstore”. Dennis emphasized the need to work closely with OTT partners to garner a deeper understanding of content consumption and adapt to ever-changing consumers’ tastes. As for Eva, she highlighted some of the pain points faced by producers and filmmakers in the financing and investment process, hence the reason she started Angelic Founder. Through this organization, the hope is to start the financing and provide support at the project conceptualization stage without interfering the creative process and work through an ideal ROI for all parties involved. Shaoyi’s emphasized the “soft money” (typically government aid) and “market money” (in the form of investment and co-production by companies) opportunities available and urged producers and filmmakers to look into such options before turning to “hard money” (in exchange for equity).

  • Last but not least, in the panel discussion, “Inside the New Vision of the Future Sound”, there were a total of 7 speakers. However, I found points from Thomas Quenoil, Head of Partnerships Asia at MIDEM helpful as he highlighted the changes in music industry trends towards an artist centric ecosystem with Covid-19. This means a rise in DIY artists during this era. To further explain, with Covid-19, artist revenues have hugely declined due to the lack of concert tours, festivals etc. In addition, publishing revenues have also been considerably affected due to bar and clubs staying closed during this period. Hence, the need to monetize creation is stronger than before. Other than major labels, MIDEM also tries to facilitate artist services through it’s MIDEM New Live Area. In this space, professionals from the gaming, music, tech sectors and any one whose work entails live events, connect and share ideas for collaboration. KKBox, Taiwan’s music streaming service, is also looking into entering the podcast market in the near future, given the rise in prominence of this content marketing channel, according to Elsa Ke, Senior Manager of KKBox Content Innovation Division. She noticed that unlike hard core music fans, podcast listeners aren’t willing to pay for services or products, thus, entering the podcast market equates reaching out to a new audience group, which could eventually result in paid conversions.

It’s true online events will never replace live events as I’m certain the outcome of an in-person attendance would be much more than this post. TCCF was an eye opener to what’s upcoming in Taiwan, but it wasn’t without its tech glitches and delays. The real-live voiceover helped to some extent, but there is still a distance to go with real-time translation.

Recorded videos of the conference can be watched on TAICCA's YouTube channel.

Photos taken from TAICCA's official websites.