Taiwan Based Producer Sam Yuan on His Netflix Series “Shards of Her” & More

In a career that spans over two decades, Taiwan-based producer Sam Yuan has been involved in a variety of productions, from critically acclaimed GF*BF and box office megahit Our Times in his early days to the more recent, Golden Horse-winning My Missing Valentine and Netflix hit series Shards of Her.

He is currently the secretary general of the Taiwanese industry organization, New Media Entertainment Association (NMEA), a post he’s held since June 2023. Prior to that, he spent eight years with Mandarin Vision, overseeing content development and production, and worked as a marketing manager for China’s Huayi Brothers International Media in the early 2010s.

We spoke to Yuan about his career, the state of the film industry in Taiwan, producing his first television series and more.

How is the Taiwanese industry recovering from the Covid pandemic?

Taiwan’s film and television industry is gradually emerging from the shadow of Covid in terms of both the film output and the box office. The number of moviegoers in Taiwan rose from 20 million in 2021 to 30 million in 2023. Although it hasn’t reached the pre-pandemic level of over 40 million moviegoers, with the revival of Hollywood and foreign films and the continuous release of local films, the numbers for 2024 should still hold promise.

Have there been any initiatives aimed at helping the industry?

In recent years, the Taiwanese government has introduced new industry stimulus policies, incorporating the film and television industry into the National Strategic Focus on Cultural and Creative Industries Initiatives like the T-content plan that encourages large-scale productions and international collaborations, as well as tax deductions to promote investment in the film and television industry, have contributed to a vibrant industry landscape.

Suspense thriller Shards of Her premiered globally on Netflix in 2022. What was the difference between making a film and a series?

Since Mandarin Vision had previously focused on film production, this was our first attempt at long-form television, requiring us to navigate many new situations. For instance, while the director typically takes the lead in film production, the screenwriter plays a crucial role in TV series production. Film professionals tend to approach series production with a film mindset. Shards of Her has a total runtime of about 405 minutes, equivalent to shooting four films back-to-back. If we strictly followed the film production system, it might have been unsustainable in terms of time and cost.

When was it filmed?

It was filmed in 2021, during the most severe period of the Covid outbreak in Taiwan. The production was halted just one week after the shooting began. Fortunately, with an excellent team, we overcame one obstacle after another.


Shards Of Her is a runaway success: it won four Golden Bell Awards, topped Netflix’s charts in several Asian territories, and was listed in the 2023 top ten TV dramas by Yazhou Zhoukan (YZZK). Can you share with us what contributed to its success?

The series draws inspiration from real events and uses dramatic storytelling to address various contemporary challenges faced by women, such as power-based sexual assault and online sexual violence, with the aim of crafting a message that motivates the viewers. Following the launch on Netflix, we received positive feedback from the audience, showing that many individuals with similar experiences found emotional resonance and release in the story. I believe this is one of the greatest rewards of working in the film and television industry: empowering audiences through storytelling to confront life’s challenges together.

Do you have personal experience with copyright infringement?

Film and TV productions require high production costs but low replication costs. Piracy seriously undermines the hard work and earnings of creators. I remember many years ago, when I was working in film distribution, we had to constantly monitor the online situation before and after a film’s release. If we found any piracy, we had to activate our handling mechanism quickly and sometimes even report it to the police, which was indeed very troublesome.

“Shards of Her.” Courtesy Netflix.

What is the impact of piracy on the local industry?

I feel that over the years, with the joint efforts of the partners in the film industry value chain, the piracy problem has improved a lot, and consumers’ awareness of copyright has become increasingly sound. However, with the popularity of streaming media, the difficulty of piracy control has increased again. Shards of Her sparked much discussion in some territories even before it was released in those markets; obviously, these viewers are not watching the show through official channels.

What further actions can be taken?

Since last year, I have been involved in the New Media Entertainment Association (NMEA) and have found more opportunities to touch on the issue of piracy. Various forms of piracy have eroded a high proportion of income for film and television workers. We try to appeal to the government through the association. Continuing to strengthen the audience’s awareness of copyright and effectively blocking piracy from overseas should be the focus of further improving the piracy situation in Taiwan.

What is the main role of NMEA?

NMEA was established in 2017. It’s one of Taiwan’s most influential industry associations, with nearly 200 enterprise and individual members, spanning new media, film, television, music, talent agency, fashion, publishing, animation, gaming, digital advertising, data services, and more. Through transnational, cross-industry, and cross-platform cooperation, we aim to enhance the sustainability and competitiveness of Taiwan’s new media and entertainment industry. Our initiatives include assisting in government industry policy formulation, collaborating on mutual business opportunities with peers, exchanging domestic and international experiences and resources, and promoting industry-academic cooperation to nurture the new generation.

What kind of events will NMEA hold to engage the industry?

At the end of each year, NMEA gathers industry experts from both domestic and international sectors for the Asiahub New Media Summit, where the latest trends and topics will be discussed to spark innovative cross-sector collaborations. In addition to Taiwan’s outstanding new media and audiovisual workers, leaders from major international enterprises such as Netflix, Warner Bros. Discovery, and Google are also invited to share their insights at the summit. The Asiahub New Media Summit has become one of NMEA’s flagship events and the most anticipated annual event in the content industry in Taiwan.

Where do you see the local content industry in the next five to 10 years?

Content industries are always filled with risks and uncertainties. With the constant evolution of artistic creativity and technological development, predicting the situation even for the next year is not easy, let alone speculating about five or 10 years ahead (laughs). AI technology could overturn yesterday’s status quo with today’s developments. There will likely be more international co-productions for Taiwan. As film workers in Taiwan, we should strive to understand the essence of universality. Similarly, foreign creators should also understand the local context of Taiwan to produce more balanced and successful works.

Is there anything the industry itself can do to prepare? 

I believe the maturity of an industry partly comes from its ability to develop sustainably. The audience’s demand for film and television content should never disappear. However, whether the production side can continuously provide quality work cannot rely solely on individual creators or projects. It requires the collective efforts of the entire industry. Promoting cooperation within the industry is also the main reason I joined NMEA. I hope everyone won’t create in isolation. Technology will change, but human nature will always endure. We should diligently explore this part.

Outside of NMEA, you are also an independent producer. What exciting projects do you have in the pipeline?

I’m working with award-winning short film director Chang Zhi-teng on his debut feature film Karma Tango, which blends fantasy elements with deep interpersonal emotions through the theme of body, mind and spirit. We’ve observed a growing trend in seeking alternative answers to life’s challenges, reflecting the restless atmosphere of contemporary society. Such topics are still relatively rare in the Chinese-language film market, so we hope to present the universality of human nature while reflecting the uniqueness of local culture through this project. Karma Tango won a TAICCA Original Award at the 2022 Golden Horse Film Project Promotion (FPP) and took part in the Taiwan Spotlight pitching session at the Berlin International Film Festival earlier this year. We are actively seeking international collaboration opportunities to bring this story to life.


To read more about safeguarding creativity in the industry, click here. 


Silvia Wong

Silvia Wong is a film journalist for UK trade publication Screen International and its website Screendaily.com She has also moved behind the camera as a film producer, screenwriter, and festival and sales consultant. She's based in Singapore.