Hong Kong filmmakers have long been aware that one of the fastest routes to box-office riches is to make movies that appeal to young people. Here, as in the United States and most of the rest of the world, teenagers and 20-somethings are by far the most frequent cinemagoers. Although people in this age group, which includes school and college leavers, have been hardest hit by high unemployment and have less cash to spend than before, their tastes and preferences still influence filmmakers in their choice of subject matter and cast. This year's biggest locally produced film, The Twins Effect, was aimed at this age group, as was surprise box-office hit, Truth Or Dare. However, in Taiwan, where artistic vision has traditionally outweighed commercial considerations in the film industry, the youth audience has not been a priority for local filmmakers - at least until recently. Last year, several films were released that featured young people dealing with modern-day dilemmas, including sexual confusion in Yee Chih-yen's Blue Gate Crossing and urban mating rituals in Leon Dai's Twenty Something Taipei. Variety magazine even described Su Chao-ping's Better Than Sex as 'Taiwanese Pie with nods to Quentin Tarantino', referring to US teen-oriented comedy American Pie. Although none of these films made anyone rich, they all performed reasonably at the box office and, along with mainstream movies such as the thriller Double Vision, gave the younger generation of filmmakers some much-needed encouragement. 'Taiwan has had lots of films about young people in the past, but they came from the older generation of directors who treated the subject matter differently,' says fledgling Taiwanese producer Michelle Yeh. 'Now we're seeing new directors coming through who are more in touch with how it feels to be young.' Along with friend and former film industry colleague Aileen Yi, Yeh has set up a production company, Three Dots Entertainment, with the aim of making genre movies rather than the worthy arthouse films that Taiwan is renowned for. The company's first project, Formula 17, is a comedy about a gay 17-year-old boy who moves to Taipei for the summer in search of first love. The film will feature an ensemble cast of emerging young actors, including Taiwan's Tony Yang Yo-nin, who recently starred in Taiwanese TV drama Crystal Boys, and Hong Kong actor, model and former athlete Duncan Lai. Yeh is in the final stages of locking down a director and plans to start production this summer. 'Unlike most Asian films dealing with gay subject matter, Formula 17 is a comedy where a single character is male, gay and happy about it - no emotional baggage and no internal turmoil,' explains Yeh, who took the project on when budding screenwriter Rady Fu approached her with the script. 'The writer was concerned that whenever he went to see a film with gay characters they were always portrayed as being miserable. That doesn't reflect the reality of his own life.' Yeh and her partners in Three Dots have raised the finance for the low-budget movie themselves - deliberately using private equity rather than government subsidy which is readily available in Taiwan. 'Most Taiwanese directors are funded by the government, but local films rarely make a return at the box office,' says Yeh. 'We want to establish a system where there is investment and there is return. If we can do it on this low-budget picture, it will help us when we go to financial institutions in the future, to prove we know what we're doing with the numbers.' Meanwhile, Taiwan's oldest and largest studio, Central Motion Picture Corp (CMPC), is also taking a crack at the youth market with its upcoming picture Taipei Er Yi (Taipei Two One). The film, which is in post-production, stars Lin Meng-chin and Tsai Hsin-hung as a young Taipei couple who are forced to make difficult choices between career and love. The director, Alex Yang, worked with internationally renowned Taiwanese director Edward Yang (A One And A Two) before making his directing debut last year with well-received drama, The Trigger. The film is one of three that CMPC is rushing to finish in time for this year's Golden Horse Awards - Taiwan's equivalent of the Oscars - that take place in the southern city of Tainan on December 13. As Taiwan has such a tiny output of locally produced films (about 15 to 20 a year compared with about 90 to 100 in Hong Kong) it often struggles to bag a respectable number of nominations at its own awards ceremony. In past years, Taiwanese politicians and media have criticised the awards for giving too many prizes to Hong Kong movies. 'This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Golden Horse Awards, so we'd like to present a stronger line-up of Taiwanese films,' says CMPC's head of international development and business, Jennifer Jao. The other films that CMPC hopes to finish on time are black comedy Black Dog Go Go, directed by Stan Yin, and US$5 million animation The Dream Of The Butterfly.