As a director, as a director, he didn’t shoot Cape No. 7 for the sake of the cinematic miracle, and he didn’t shoot Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale for the international fame. All along, Wei Te-Sheng just wanted to be a man who told the stories well. In his latest film and city-building project, he has the most affectionate warm feelings about Taiwan. This time he wants to tell a story about all the Taiwanese and he wants to tell the story well.
As for director Wei Te-Sheng, everyone seems to be familiar with him, but also seems not so familiar. Enya magazine invited Wei Te-Sheng for its cover, the shooting location selected was in Wanhua’s U-mkt We were in the historical site that existed from the Period of Japanese colonial rule, listened to him about what he saw from Taiwan’s past and shared with his eager mood to show the best of Taiwan’s history to the next generations.
What exactly does director Wei Te-Sheng seek for in the film world as a growing-up man by watching movies? Once he obsessed with the position of director and also chased the so-called director dream; however, Wei Te-Sheng finally found that in the pursuit of the process, he has been pursuing not the director’s role, but the pursuit of film as a strong medium which lets him tell good stories through this collection of sound, light and image effects.
Our domestic films had faced a very difficult era, and even now, funding is always the most difficult stage of the film to overcome. Because of insufficient funding for production, many directors often cannot properly deliver their stories with the full picture, but Wei Te-Sheng never allowed this to hamper him. For him, if there is a budget shortage, he makes an effort to resolve it. Outsiders would misunderstand him for over budgeting for a movie, and he explained: ”I’ve always spent the same budget as my estimation, but I’m still being asked to save money again. But making a movie is going to have a certain cost.” To what extent would I need what kind of money was as early as his considerations and planning would allow; he would find more funding to invest in filming rather than sacrifice the presentation of the film story just to save on the budget. Even if Cape No. 7 costs more than $50 million to produce and Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale costs $700 million, but he never lets the budget be an obstacle to his films.
In his film kingdom, in order to tell the story well, he almost never compromises, which is the reason why director Wei Te-Sheng’s films are always watchable. Therefore, the audience will get the resonance in Cape No. 7 and get the helpless feelings of human nature in ”The Japanese Flag” and Rainbow Bridge. This time Wei Te-Sheng wants to tell the Taiwan Trilogy story structure in a larger scope, the times being more distant and the content being more complex. It is very difficult to tell this story well. As it is not easy, even this concept percolates in Wei Te-Sheng’s consciousness more than 20 years ago. More than a decade after the script was written, he did not put it into action, but quietly waited until the success of Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale and KANO; he knew that it then was time to make the Taiwan Trilogy.
The story of the Taiwan Trilogy tells the story of the collision and survival of ethnic groups in this part of Taiwan 400 years ago during the Age of Discovery, and he tells the same story from three points of views of the aboriginals, the Han and the Dutch, and from the Escape as a beginning by depicting what people did in order to survive, they chose to escape or chose to resist; these collisions are meant to continue life, and this is history, like the fate of Taiwan.
Wei Te-Sheng talked about why he wanted to tell the story of the Taiwan Trilogy, which originated from Jiaxiang Wang’s original novel The Wind in the Inner Sea. After reading this novel, he had a profound understanding of Taiwan, and he began to think: Has Taiwan really experienced such a beautiful era? Taiwan once had so many waves of migration to this land, such as the Dutch, black slaves, Malays, Japanese and Han Chinese and how did these ancient people live? What have they been through? The disappearance of the Taijiang Inner Sea, once so peaceful and beautiful, is like the mother’s womb giving birth to Taiwan’s earliest civilization, and this history left him with a heart full of question marks. Meanwhile, he also began to be curious about their origin, and then explored Taiwan’s own history and culture. ”The world I found after reading this book was shocking and moving as seen by myself as being in my mother’s womb before I was born. I wanted more Taiwanese to see what it looked like when Taiwan was born. I wanted more people in the world to know how pure and beautiful Taiwan had been,” he said emotionally. “I think it’s a great time for me to want more Taiwanese to know what we’ve lived through so beautifully.”
To bring the beauty and glory of Taiwan to the public, in addition to the story itself, Wei Te-Sheng knew that he wanted to tell the story well and completely, and it was bound to rebuild the 400-year-old Taiwan’s capital city, including the prosperous Taijiang Inner Sea, the city of Theranan and the towns of that era. With the experience of Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale and KANO, it was not difficult to rebuild such a historical scene, but the scene after the construction cannot be left out, which lets him begin to think that, in addition to the film itself, can he keep the scene without destroying it after the filming, and continue to let every generation of people have the opportunity to know the young Taiwan. So Wei Te-Sheng decided to preserve the historical site created in the film and develop it into a Formosa Wonderland historical and cultural experience park, after the filming of the Taiwan Trilogy.
The idea of a Formosa Wonderland of historical and cultural experience park is larger than any film in the past, and not only is the difficulty of execution much higher, but the budget is hundreds of times higher than for filming. Why would you do that? He replied that: ”I don’t think that my mission is heavy. I’m not here to get anything, but because we were born and raised in this land, and we will face death and burial here, no matter what ethnic background we are, and our new generation is born again. At the time when the ancient generations lived here, there were conflicts, reconciliation, joy and sorrow, but Taiwan has nurtured us from generation to generation through the ages. Then why wouldn’t anyone want to build a park in memory for this land, which has nurtured us for generations? We gain the resources from this land and live on it; I want to use the Formosa Wonderland to commemorate Taiwan, which has been quietly paid for without asking for anything in return. Each of us is a child of Taiwan, and I hope that together you can complete this plan as a gift to Mother Taiwan that can be remembered and be thankful for.”
On November 1st, Wei Te-Sheng officially signed a contract with Tainan City, the Formosa Wonderland finally ready to launch. The film is also determined to be officially filming in 2021. Wei Te-Sheng said, although the film is with the fictional story based on the background of history, but the atmosphere, aesthetics and living environment of that era are real. If everyone who watches this movie is touched, it’s not because the film is touching but because in this movie we can see our own origins. He hopes that through such a story, Taiwanese can see clearly at our past and find our value recognition in the process. Finally he said, ”When we know where we are coming from, we will create the strength of peace in mind and firmly know where we should go.” While saying these words, his eyes were clear, bright and firm. If he has not loved the land, how could he have this foolish energy to recreate Taiwan’s once glorious past as the Formosa Wonderland, which still has many difficulties to face and still needs a lot of money to achieve. Wei Te-Sheng doesn’t make a film only to create his own dreams, but also for the Taiwanese pave a path to start finding our roots.