“Atsushi Ogata as Yukata Cowboy on the red carpet at
Bilbao Seriesland 2017, Bilbao Guggenheim”
(photo by Jabier Etxebarria) © Globetrot Productions 2017
Aka “Yukata Cowboy”
Filmmaker, Screenwriter, Digital Creator, Video Artist, Actor/Comedian.
Atsushi is a graduate from Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies. He has relentlessly pursued his artistic career throughout Europe, Japan and the United States and his video artwork and collaborations have been awarded numerously at festivals and museums across the globe. From the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Atsushi has been appreciated for his exceptional work as a multi-dimensional Artist. As a Screenwriter, Atsushi has been the recipient of screenwriting grants in both Germany and the Netherlands, he even hopped over to the land of Tulips and appeared weekly on Dutch national television.
“Yukata Cowboy awarded at web festivals around the world”
© Globetrot Productions 2017
Best Actor (Star AMETS) to Atsushi Ogata in Mona Lisa Cowboy, Bilbao Seriesland 2017 (Spain)
Best Comedy Sketches, Dublin Web Fest (Ireland), Best Creative Concept, Miami Web Fest (USA)
Best Character (Amets) & Web Series Mag Interview Awards, Bilbao Web Fest (Spain)
Special Mention for Outstanding Performance as an Actor, Sicily Web Fest (Italy)
Web Series Word Cup 2015 #12 Ranking
Best Actor & Best Film Editing (Sketch Comedy), Rome Web Awards 2016 (Italy),
Best Web TV, 2nd Montreal Web Fest (Canada)
Best Screenplay, 2nd K Web Fest (Korea)
Silver Award, 5th DC Web Fest (USA)
Best Sketch Comedy, Seoul Web Fest (Korea)
Best Costume Design, Asia Web Awards 2017 (Korea)
NOMINATED – Best Male Performance, Rio Web Fest 2015 (Brazil) , Best Vlogger, Rio Web Fest 2016 & 2017,
Best Sketch, Dub Web Fest 2016
SELECTED – 10th Camera Japan Festival (Rotterdam, The Netherlands),
21st Tous-Ecrans Geneva International Film Festival (Switzerland),
3rd T.O.Web Fest (Canada), Wendie Webfest Hamburg 2016 (Germany) Roma Web Fest 2016(Italy), Die Seriale 2017 (Germany),
Austin Web Fest 2017 (USA), Tuscany Web Fest 2017 (Italy).
His short film “Eternally Yours” was chosen for the prestigious New Directors/New Films Films Festival 2007 in New York at the MoMA & the Lincoln Center. That film also won awards in LA, Boston and Bangkok. Atsushi’s feature film debut, “Cast me if you can,” premiered at the 13th Shanghai International Film Festival Asian New Talent Competition and was theatrically released in 16 cities in Japan. Atsushi’s collaborative satire with MEGWIN TV, “Trick or Treat: I LOVE America!” was selected for the official YouTube Japan channel and awarded in Rome. “Yukata Cowboy”, Atsushi’s one-man online sketch comedy series filmed with his iPhone, was awarded in Sicily, Miami, Bilbao, Dublin, Rome, Montreal, Seoul and Washington D.C., ranking #12 in Web Series World Cup 2015. It was theatrically released in Japan and also turned into a book. “Mona Lisa Cowboy”, Atsushi’s most recent series, premiered at Webfest Berlin in September 2017 and was screened in London, Bilbao, Rio de Janeiro, and Dublin. It will have its North American premiere at the Vancouver Web Fest in April 2018. Atsushi has also taught screenwriting and acting/directing workshops at YouTube Space Tokyo and has been invited as a guest speaker at various colleges and festivals.
“Atsushi Ogata as Yukata Cowboy- the Most Mistaken Man In The World”
© Globetrot Productions 2015
Atsushi has been nicknamed “the Most Mistaken Man in the World”. He invented and convincingly portrays, “Yukata Cowboy”; a kooky chameleon-character who morphs into everything from a gypsy, a skin-head, a waiter, a driver, and a woman. “Yukata Cowboy” and his shenanigans must be watched to be fully appreciated. One doesn’t quite know what to expect from the shuffling grown-up man in the ‘Yukata’ (traditional Japanese summer garment) and cowboy hat. One day he can be on a plane, the next day he can be in his New York apartment walking through imaginary dog-shit in the streets of Amsterdam. One thing for sure he is himself always and that makes his kookiness all the more entertaining to watch. He is delightfully absurd, too wonderful not to share, and so Pizazz News Readers it is with much joy that I can introduce the man behind the Yukata and cowboy hat, Atsushi Ogata.
“iPhone: How To Film A Web Series Playing 27 Characters!”
Season 7, “Yukata Cowboy, the Making of.”
Q: The loveable and kooky, “Yukata Cowboy”- how did you come up with such an original character?
A: I grew up both in Japan and in the US. When I was a child, I was a fan of both ‘ronin’-drifter-samurai sword masters and Spaghetti Western gunslingers. So, as an adult, when I began to develop this cross-cultural comedy series, my producer Sian Evans suggested that I come up with a strong ‘visual representation’ for such a character. It only made sense for me to combine the “samurai’ and the ‘cowboy” elements to create this hybrid Japanese-American character, which was a good representation and reflection of my own “cross-cultural” life.
Yukata Cowboy (Season 1 Episode 2) “Elevators Love them or Leave Them.
Q: Yukata Cowboy (Season 1 Episode 2) “Elevators Love them or Leave Them.” Is this a true story? Did you work as a “Salary Man” in Japan and became a video maker and go to Holland? We are all adults here so feel free to tell us what really happened with the sassy blonde.
A: All the episodes in the Yukata Cowboy series are based on various true-life experiences that I’ve had in my own life. In these episodes, I sometimes change the locations, combine countries, and/or add a climax to make it more structured and entertaining. In true life, I have been a ‘salary man’ in Japan, working for a large computer company. I later became a video artist/filmmaker living in Germany, the Netherlands and the US. One time in Amsterdam, at a festival café, a blonde lady I never met before, suddenly turned to me and said: “I’m going upstairs now.” I had no idea who she was or what she was talking about; later, I happened to see the festival video projectionist – he was Asian and had curly dark hair, like me…!?
Yukata Cowboy (Season 1 Episode 6) “New York Teenager.”
Q: Yukata Cowboy (Season 1 Episode 6) “New York Teenager.” You were 13 years old when you moved to the States, what part of New York were you living in? How difficult was the adjustment for you from moving from Japan to New York?
A: For me, it was really exciting to land in America when I was 13. We went to Disneyland, the Grand Canyon and climbed up inside Statue of Liberty. At the gift shop, I wanted to get a small toy Statue of Liberty, and I remember being so surprised to find that it had a label that said “Made in Japan”!? ….WHAT!? I guess even back then, I was totally into cross-cultural observations, because I remember going around New York City taking pictures of fire-hydrants, stop lights, etc, which looked very different from the ones in Japan, and sending those pictures to friends in Tokyo.
And of course, when we arrived in New York, and began living in the middle of Manhattan, I felt like I had walked into a gigantic movie set. In fact, ever since then, I feel like I’m living inside an enormous movie set. Maybe that’s why I became a film director.
Oh, and I guess I wasn’t a typical Japanese kid coming to America, because, I used to work for Her Majesty in London as a Buckingham Palace Guard – when I was only 2 years old.
“Growing Up Bilculturally: Inspiration For Yukata Cowboy!” (3 Months Old)
Episode 1. Season 2, “Don’t Shoot Me, Sheriff?! My Life Matters Too…!?”
Q: Episode 1. Season 2, “Don’t Shoot Me, Sheriff?! My Life Matters Too…!?”
Nothing is funnier than seeing a man in a dress and you carry the look quite well I think, how terrifying for you to be confronted by a Sheriff. This surely didn’t happen, did it?
A: Ha, ha – thank you. As a kid, I used to imitate my teachers all the time, and as an actor-director, I suppose, I’m always observing people and picking up their traits. In Germany at the Media Art Academy where I once had an artist-residency, I remember imitating the way a particular German female student walked and carried herself, and people could tell exactly who I was imitating. After watching the movie “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” starring Gary Oldman, I spent at least a day, if not two, imitating Gary Oldman playing George Smiley, all the time, inside my flat.
Playing all these characters in the Yukata Cowboy series was extremely fun and easy for me, because I’m often imitating all these odd characters I encounter in my life and travels.
Most incidents are funny, but when I was a college freshman, we got lost in a rich neighborhood, and finally found a taxi depot. We walked inside to ask for a taxi, and the guy behind the counter pulled a shotgun on us!? Needless to say, we turned around and rushed right out… And that was even in a “blue” state?! Imagine that!
Q: The theme tune to “Yukata Cowboy” is pretty catchy, who wrote it? I find it playing in my head quite often, maybe I watch too much “Yukata Cowboy”. If the tune had a subliminal message, what would it be telling us?
A: The theme tune for “Yukata Cowboy” is a song called “Niminy Piminy” written and created by Pascal Plantinga, a Dutch composer friend. http://pascalplantinga.com/
He has been generous in letting me use his songs, not only for “Yukata Cowboy” but also for my other digital series. I first met Pascal at a video art festival in the Netherlands, but we found out years later, that he had actually visited my collaborative video art installation, when I was finishing graduate studies in Boston!? What a small world!
In recent years, Pascal has also been visiting Japan regularly to collaborate with Japanese musicians in Okinawa, southern island of Japan. I once visited this island and was very surprised to see how colorful, free and tropical it felt, especially compared to Tokyo. People playfully strolling along in Aloha shirts – that seemed really fitting to Pascal’s character, and also, that’s actually the kind of feeling that “Niminy Piminy” evokes in me – something playful and free-spirited – that’s also fitting “Yukata Cowboy”.
I’m so amused to hear you say that “it plays in my head at the most inappropriate times!” Ha, ha – great!
I actually just told Pascal what you said about his music, and he says: “Please tell Natasha Stone she is the greatest and that I would love to meet her. I could play in her head a bit more. I’m curious to hear what she considers inappropriate times. Does she know the song is from my CD Arctic Poppy? When the interview comes out, please let me know. “
[Too awesome Pascal. Arctic Poppy, yes, I get why your collaboration with Mr Yukata Cowboy works so well!]
“Aren’t borders more fun when the walls are gone!?”
(from left) Atsushi Ogata (as Yukata Cowboy) with composer Pascal Plantinga
© Globetrot Productions 2015
Q: Season 2, Episode 3, “Hey, Cowboy! This is New York City!” I loved this;
“I’m an Arab-Jewish-Eskimo-British-American, my grandma grew up in Alaska, my grandpa grew up in Hyde Park, and I grew up in Manhattan.”
How does Japan’s cultural melting pot differ to New York’s?
Season 2, Episode 3, “Hey, Cowboy! This is New York City!”
A: Ah, well, if you look at cities like New York or London, people walking and talking on the streets are literally from all over the world, and many retain their cultural heritage.
Japan, actually assimilates elements of other cultures in subtle ways. For example, if you look at the language and the words used, the word for bread in Japanese is “pan”, taken from “pain” in French, and temp work is “arubaito”, taken from “arbeit (work)” in German. In Italian restaurants in Japan, you often find dishes with Japanese ingredients such as seaweeds, on pasta!? Fashion, habits, language are brought in from all over the world and somehow transformed into something more “Japanese”.
Q: Season 2, Episode 4: “Hey, lady, that’s not my job?!”
How often do you run into the problem of having to explain what a “Video-Maker” does?
Season 2, Episode 4: “Hey, lady, that’s not my job?!”
A: If you say you’re an “actor”, everyone thinks they know exactly what you do. If you say you’re a “film director”, they don’t really know exactly what you do, but you still get respect. If you say you are a “video artist”, that can cause a lot of confusion, especially at weddings. Someone might want you to make a commercial for their restaurant, another person may ask you to make a music video for his friend’s band, or the bride’s parents might become absolutely outraged thinking that the “best man” makes porn!?
Q Season 2, Episode 5 “Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe – Where The Hell Do I Belong?”
London and the dodgy guy, did this really happen? What is the full-story?
Season 2, Episode 5 “Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe – Where The Hell Do I Belong?”
A: My hair used to be quite long, and with my black leather jacket, I suppose I looked like one of these Peruvian street musicians. Even in Sao Paolo, where I’d never been to before, I was often mistaken for a Brazilian local. So, I suppose I could look like a “Latin American” to a dodgy English guy in Leicester Square… Was he looking for slave labor? Was he looking for a sex slave? Your guess is as good as mine….
In Germany and other parts of Europe, when you’re having dinner in a restaurant, many people often come inside to sell you flowers. Well, if you’re by yourself, they often don’t bother, but if you’re in a group, or with a nice lady, they definitely come over and try to sell you a bouquet of flowers. I always wondered where these people came from. One time in Cologne, Germany, when I was walking along the Rhine River, I saw a grey van double-parked. I had a glimpse inside, and there they were! A bunch of flower-sellers, all ready to hit the road for the night!
Q Season 2, Episode 7 “Japanese Gangsters Always Rings Twice?!”
Japan phone scams, is it really that bad? Is Japan still a shame-based culture?
Season 2, Episode 7 “Japanese Gangsters Always Rings Twice?!”
A: Once my aunt received a call from one of these scam artists, but she didn’t pay up. Later, her son, who is a successful dentist, heard about this. He said his mother must have known better because if the call had really come from him, the amount the con artist had asked was “too small”…?! Then, my dad jokingly told me later that in fact, no one in his family would have ever pay such scam artists, because his family members are all too stingy!?
One time, I waited 20 minutes in a post office in Belgrade, ex-Yugoslavia, to make a collect call to my mom’s office, but the call was never accepted!?
Q Season 2, Episode 8 “Holy Cow! Renting Cars in LA Can Get You Killed!?”
Car insurance that doesn’t cover emergency road-side assistance – how bizarre did you find LA? Would you live there?
Season 2, Episode 8 “Holy Cow! Renting Cars in LA Can Get You Killed!?”
A: Having grown up and in the New York, Boston, and living many years in Europe, I found LA to be too sunny and barren. I missed the highrise buildings and their shadows. When I had a chance to take the subway in LA to go downtown, I finally felt right at home, feeling the vibration of the moving subway. But when I told my friends in LA that I took the subway and enjoyed it, they all looked at me with pity and immediately, began offering me free rides in their cars?!
Q: Season 4, Episode 2 “Houseguest To The Rescue! No More Waiting 72 Hours For Repairman!”Did you do much couch surfing in Manhattan? How did you find the difference between apartments in New York in comparison to other countries you have been to?
Season 4, Episode 2 “Houseguest To The Rescue! No More Waiting 72 Hours For Repairman!”
A: One time in New York, I spent 6 weeks staying at the flat of my high school friend and another 6 weeks, on the couch of my college roommate. The doormen in both buildings knew me so well, that even when I ‘moved’ from one flat to another, they kept waiving me through and letting me in, even when I was no longer staying there!? So, sometimes, I had to stop and ask them to please ring up my friend and tell him that I’m here before you wave me through so I don’t shock him….?!
In New York and Boston, I almost always couch-surfed at friends’ places, but in Europe, since I was staying longer – months, years… I ended up subletting and sharing the rent. In any case, I got so used to living in other people’s flats that I was at a total loss when I got my own place… What?! So, you mean I have to buy my own pillow and get my own gas bill….?! Where?! How!?
Q: Season 4, Episode 3 “Recycling Shopping Bags & Dodging Landmines In Amsterdam?!”
One of my favourite things to watch is this episode, has me in stitches.
Season 4, Episode 3 “Recycling Shopping Bags & Dodging Landmines In Amsterdam?!”
A: As “The Most Mistaken Man in the World”, with chameleon-like qualities, I naturally blend into my environment everywhere. Perhaps, sometimes, even too well…. So, even when I go to a store, I must look like I know what I’m doing because people often come up to and ask me for things.This happens a lot, especially in Kinko’s, whether it be in Tokyo or Boston. Even if there are a bunch of people dressed in their uniforms behind the counter, random customers would STILL come up to ME!? My friends told me that I might look too “hyper vigilante”, but who knows why. Coming into my own apartment building with a shopping bag, a neighbor once mistook me for a delivery guy for his lunch and even tried to hand me a $20 bill!?
[Fortune smiles upon you.]
Q: Recently you received an award at the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain for your newest work, “Mona Lisa Cowboy.”
ATSUSHI OGATA wins
BEST ACTOR (Star AMETS) at
BILBAO SERIESLAND for
MONA LISA COWBOY!
(October 27th, 2017. Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain)
Q: Congratulations on your award. How was Spain? Did you get to see much of it or were you busy working?
“Trophy for Best Actor (Star AMETS) at Bilbao Seriesland”
© Globetrot Productions 2017
“Yukata Cowboy at Bilbao Guggenheim”
© Globetrot Productions 2015
“Group Selfie with Rose, Oliver & participants at Bilbao Seriesland”
(photo by Jabier Etxebarria) © Globetrot Productions 2017
A: Thank you! Bilbao is a one of the best festivals for digital series. The great, enthusiastic festival organizers – Rose of Dolls, Oliver Mend and the rest of the Bilbao Seriesland team
( http://www.seriesland.eus/ )- put together an interesting program of screenings, panels, city tour, boat ride, and bar crawl with lots of friendly, talented creators from all around the world. It’s a fantastic experience!
In addition to Bilbao, last year, I also had a chance to visit Vitoria Gasteiz, the capital of the Basque country. I toured around the beautiful, amazing, maze-like city center, guided by web series creator Sara Mauleón (Shyncrica Redes http://www.shyncrica.com/). This city had once also inspired Ken Follett, the Welsh spy novelist.
“Atsushi Ogata visits Vitoria Gasteiz, guided by Sara Mauleón ”
© Globetrot Productions 2017
Q: Mona Lisa Cowboy has been described on IMDb as follows:
“The backstory of the “Yukata Cowboy” series, “Mona Lisa Cowboy” is a dramatic comedy about two estranged Chinese twins brought together by a Japanese-American cowboy in Paris.”
Stephan Greitemeier from Heise Online in Germany described “Mona Lisa Cowboy” as;
“…fast, absurd love drama somewhere between ‘John Wayne’ and ‘Amelie’…”
(Heise Online, Germany, September 9th, 2017)
Where is “Mona Lisa” filmed? And what is “Yukata Cowboy” up to in this series?
A: “Mona Lisa Cowboy” was filmed in Paris with Paris-based Chinese actress Xin Wang and her team. They are creators of the first French-Chinese series “Ex-Model” (co-produced with Youku and 63 million viewers).
In this series, we learn the backstory ‘origin’ of the ‘Yukata Cowboy’ character: how Kenji, a Japanese-American man, quits his job and moves to Paris to follow his artistic calling; how he meets Mona, a Chinese-French creative soul, falls in love, and turns into a ‘culturally hybrid’ street-performer called “Yukata Cowboy.”
Then the story jumps 7 years forward to when Mona and Yukata Cowboy are no longer together. Mona has a car accident in Paris and falls into a coma, and her estranged twin sister Lisa arrives in Paris to help out. Without knowing that Mona even had a twin sister, Yukata Cowboy returns to Paris…
This “prequel/spinoff” series is a fictional comedic drama with a narrative storyline, unlike the original “Yukata Cowboy” series, which is more of a sketch comedy.
“Estranged expat twins and a wandering Japanese cowboy in Paris – a playful multi-cultural web drama” (Mona Lisa Cowboy – digital poster)
(from left) Atsushi Ogata (as Yukata Cowboy), Xin Wang (as Mona)
photo: Sebastien Chenille design: Ben Hillman © Globetrot Productions 2017
“In Mona Lisa Cowboy, a Chinese-French cowgirl with a lasso turns a Japanese artist into a street performer in Paris!?”
(Mona Lisa Cowboy – photo still)
(from left) Atsushi Ogata (as Kenji) with Xin Wang (as Mona)
photo: Sebastien Chenille
© Globetrot Productions 2017
Q: If “Yukata Cowboy” had a piece of wisdom to impart to us, what would it be?
A: In this day and age, when we’re all bombarded with all kind of information; social media is fueling our anger and outrage. Our values and interests are all getting numbed out, becoming bland and pigeonholed into pre-existing ‘categories’. It’s important to keep a keen eye and an open-mind. Remember to notice and enjoy all the quirky things everywhere all around us in the wild wide world out there!
Q: What can we expect to see happening next in “Yukata Cowboy?”
A: Having realized 4 season of “Yukata Cowboy” with 30 episodes and expanding to “Mona Lisa Cowboy” in Paris, we hope to expand “Yukata Cowboy” even further through a new shows and series, filming in iconic cities all around the world. This multicultural show will be a serial romantic comedy – addictive, full of surprises, with local cultural elements and adventures. It’s comedy verging on fantasy – life more absurd than fiction. The character Yukata Cowboy will continue to be ‘full of ‘sincerity’, and the episodes will again show that it is okay to be ‘different’ even in this day and age of Trump and Brexit.
Q: What other artistic or non-artistic work do you enjoy doing?
A: Other than writing, acting, directing, filming, editing, screening and promoting my own work, I enjoy photography, art exhibitions, film screenings, seeing plays, skating, skiing, traveling, socializing, dining, romance, partying, joking, binge-watching, sleeping and talking.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: (1) Promoting “Yukata Cowboy” & “Mona Lisa Cowboy” and expanding their fan base.
(2) Expanding “Yukata Cowboy” into a larger globetrotting series.
(3) Developing a cross-cultural feature thriller.
Q: What would you love to do next?
A: I’d love to create a comedic drama series where Yukata Cowboy travels through the world, falling in love in Paris, being mistaken for a flamenco dancer in Madrid, hunted by the mafia in Rome, trapped in a castle in Germany, inadvertently swinging the election in New York; struggling to outfox his dodgy uncle in Tokyo, posing as a Buckingham Palace Guard in London to find his long lost English nanny, and the whole time, changing the lives of people around him without ever realizing, like Forrest Gump?!
[That would be great!]
Q: Finish this sentence, if I couldn’t be an Actor/Comedian I would be ….
A: a stranger in a strange land.
Thank-you so much Atsushi Ogata for joining us on Pizazz News and give our biggest hugs to “Yukata Cowboy.” We look forward to seeing more of your work and can’t wait to see what happens next.