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!