SOAS University of London

Centre of Taiwan Studies

Making of Island Nation

Sylvia Feng (馮賢賢)

Date: 20 June 2019Time: 6:00 PM

Finishes: 20 June 2019Time: 8:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: KLT

Type of Event: Summer School

As this event is part of our SOAS Centre of Taiwan Studies Summer School, we kindly ask that you register to attend

Island Nation 1


Producing the first political drama series in Taiwan has been one of the most daunting tasks I’ve ever undertaken. Under Martial Law (1949-1987), people were frightened of talking about politics or getting involved in anything related to politics because they could be implicated in sedition charges and face death penalty. The fear lingers on. There was an invisible wall surrounding any attempt to take up politics as the subject of TV drama. The mere idea of breaking that taboo makes our endeavor worthwhile.

Island Nation portrays Taiwan’s struggle as a new and vulnerable democracy from the 1990’s to the present day. Season one covers the period from 1990-1994 when the first Taiwan-born president combats the old guards in his own party and works skillfully with the opposition, displaying incredible political acumen as he leads the nation into democratization.

Just as the China issue poses serious challenges to the President in Island Nation, the overwhelming China factor in real world has affected our efforts to find investments, to form the production team, to find actors, etc. People weren’t sure if we could actually make it, and many of those approached by us were afraid if they went on board, they’d lose opportunities in the Chinese market.

Island Nation 2

Since ours is the first try, there was no model to follow and the development of the scripts took more time and effort than normal. As we move into shooting, we have not yet acquired all the funds we need. Broadcast channels and OTT platforms have yet to be solidified. But in spite of all these difficulties, what really matters at the end of the day will be the quality of the drama and the strength of our story. We’re working our heads off toward that end.

Marketing of the drama started as early as November, 2018. No TV drama in Taiwan has launched a marketing campaign as early as we do. Expectations have been rising, and the moment of truth will be, hopefully, taking place in November, 2019. 

Speaker Biography

Sylvia Feng Profile

Sylvia Feng is a media specialist with over 35 years of experience in radio and television production and management. She was a leading advocate of Public Media in Taiwan and spearheaded efforts resulting in the passage of Taiwan’s Public Television Act in 1997. As senior manager, producer and president of Public TV, she pursued quality journalism, creative expressions and cultural diversity by initiating PTS daily news, documentary programs and bolder drama productions.

She also promoted rights of ethnic minorities and helped launch Indigenous TV and Hakka TV in Taiwan. Since her forced exit from Public TV in 2010 due to political interference, she has produced animated shorts on the internet and published articles on media policy. She is currently producing the first political drama series in Taiwan.

Ms. Feng also helped the DPP form its communications policy in 2012 & 2016, and was chief editor of President Tsai Ying-Wen’s Culture Policy Paper in 2016.

Organiser: SOAS Centre of Taiwan Studies

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