Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What is drama production?

This is how the conversation usually goes:

Somebody: "So what do you want to do in Taiwan?"
Me: "Be a drama producer."
Somebody: "What's that???"
Me: -.-"

There's two paths you can take when it comes to finding a job in (drama) production in Taiwan: proposal and execution. The proposal path is usually a more office/admin type of job where you're writing and/or evaluating proposals for potential dramas. Usually TV station and drama production company employees hold this type of position. The working hours are more regular and it is more of an office job.

The other type is the execution part where you're on the set and making the actual drama. Most people in this role are freelance and take on projects as they choose. Because drama budgets are so tight, the production team is usually managed pretty tightly, with anywhere from 2 to 5 people, doing all of the following and more random tasks:
  • Location scouting
  • Buying supplies
  • Casting
  • Creating schedules
  • Chauffeuring
  • Hiring the filming crew
  • Shooting logistics
  • Cleaning
  • Managing the set

At a filming location with stuff we have to carry around (and move) everyday. 

Plus you're always the first on the set and last to leave and the first team to join the project and last to leave. The tasks on a basic level are not difficult and are actually quite menial. The challenge is in  managing the large number of menial tasks and handling unexpected situations that come your way. In Taiwanese there's a term, "mei mei ga ga" which literally translates as "corners and edges", which refers to the tiny little details that you should pay attention to, for example someone being vegetarian. The production team is all about taking care of everyone's "mei mei ga ga" to ensure smooth filming. Though it's definitely the toughest team to be on, you get to make decisions that significantly and directly impact the drama which is very cool.

Hope this sheds a little more light on what drama production is. Curious about anything else? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Working in Taiwan

I'm an American born Taiwanese (ABT) and never did it cross my parents' minds that I'd want to live in Taiwan so they never applied for Taiwan citizenship for me. After making my decision, I knew I needed to figure out my citizenship issues so that I could legally stay and work in Taiwan.

The Taiwanese government allows the children of Taiwanese citizens born in a foreign nation to also apply for Taiwanese citizenship. If you are under 20, you can get it immediately (instructions in Chinese here) and your life in Taiwan is peachy because you're a Taiwanese citizen just like everyone else.

Since I'm over 20, the process is more complicated (instructions in Chinese here). I needed to first get a special no household registry Taiwanese passport from the Taiwanese consulate in Houston and then enter Taiwan on a residency visa. After entering the country, I then needed to apply for a resident certificate. Once you get the resident certificate and stay in Taiwan for 365 consecutive days, you are eligible to apply for a Taiwanese ID card and with that, you earned your Taiwanese citizenship badge.

I thought that the resident certificate was enough to allow me to work, but nope, to legally work here you must also have a working visa that the company hiring you applies for. Most people working in drama production are on a contract basis and when there's an opening, they need it filled immediately. Since it takes 1-2 months to get a working visa and requires a lot of paperwork, it's very unlikely that a production company will sponsor a working visa for you. A good alternative for fellow non-citizen ABT's is to first become an English teacher with a company that can get you a working visa. Once you get the working visa then you can look for the job you really want.

Obviously, you can also work without a working visa, but please keep in mind that it is illegal and if the immigration agency finds out, you could be deported and banned from ever visiting Taiwan again. If you're a foreigner, you need an ARC and a working permit which you can read more about here and here.

Was this post useful? Also, help me pick a topic for my next post! What do you want to read or know more about? Let me know by commenting below!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Nice to meet you~

Welcome! About four months ago I decided to quit my stable job in IT to pursue a career that I'm passionate about. So I packed up my things, said my goodbyes to friends and family, and plopped myself in Taipei. Below are a few questions I get asked often that you're probably wondering too.

Did you hate your office job in IT that much?
No! I enjoyed my time in IT and met some awesome people along the way, but the idea of sitting in an office doing the same drill for the next 50 years was, simply put, frightening. So I figured hey, I'm young, single, free, and #yolo, so why not give my dream a shot? Worse case scenario I can always go back to the IT industry.
Why choose to be a drama producer in Taiwan?
I watch an average of 30 dramas a year (a mix of Taiwanese, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese dramas in case you're curious), which roughly equates to 3 weeks of nonstop 24/7 drama-ing. I already invest so much time in this hobby, why not try to make a career out of it? The catch...I'm not pretty enough to be an actress, nor do I have the interest in being a director. So what role in the drama world would suit me? The answer I came up with is the production side. Much of what a producer does is similar to what I was doing in IT as a project manager; you manage people, time, money, and quality to create a product.
Do you have any industry connections already in Taipei?
Nope, none whatsoever.
So....what's your plan?
Start from the bottom and work my way up to producer. I've given myself a timeline of 2-3 years and will reevaluate when needed. As for more concrete ways to actually land a job, we'll save that for a future post ;)
Do you have a hard time adjusting to Taipei?
Perhaps it's my easygoing personality, previous travel experience, fluency in Mandarin, and familiarity with Taipei from previous family vacations, but I have no issues in adjusting to living in Taipei. The only thing is, like moving to any new place, rebuilding your social network and making friends is difficult. I do crave American things like Tex-Mex, BBQ, and driving but Taipei is a big city and I can usually find something to placate my craving or just make it from scratch.
You're so courageous!
Not really...I'm still really scared of cockroaches haha. I think rather than describe me as being courageous I'm more goal oriented, and because I have a goal and action plan to achieve that goal, making this move didn't seem to be a big deal.

I started this blog mainly to let my friends and family know what I'm up to, but hopefully I'll also be able to shed some insight with you about trying to achieve something in the entertainment industry in Taiwan and inspire you to pursue your passion/dream because really, nothing is impossible if you set your heart to it. Thanks so much for reading this lengthy first post and stopping by!