Four years in the making, Australian documentary Big in Japan – directed and produced by Melbourne filmmaking trio Lachlan McLeod, Louis Dai and David Elliot-Jones – launches nationally on January 3, 2018. The documentary will go on an Australia-wide screening tour with documentary star Ladybeard and pop culture expo Supanova.
In an outrageous DIY mission to make ordinary Dave big in Japan, the three filmmakers shipped their lives to Tokyo to investigate fame – meeting an eclectic ensemble of gaijin tarento (foreign talents) along the way, including feisty Aussie cross-dresser Rick ‘Ladybeard’ Magarey, starry-eyed Canadian J-pop wannabe Kelsey Parnigoni and veteran TV sweetheart, Bob ‘The Beast’ Sapp.
A strange and oddly philosophical fame joyride in the vein of Louis Theroux, Big in Japan is a raw and unflinching take on the nature of modern fame, and a wacky adventure that pushes friendship and resolve to the brink.
The phrase ‘Big in Japan’ was popularized by the 1984 Alphaville song of the same name, and refers to the phenomenon of Western fame in Japan irrespective of what’s happening back home. In the 1980s – before the eye opening days of YouTube, cheap travel, English language schools and multinational companies – a few stray foreigners found immense fame (and fortune) in Japan because of their novelty as Westerners. Nowadays, a full-fledged foreign talent industry exists to cater for the Japanese desires to be entertained and to locate themselves and reinforce their national identity and in a complex globalized world.
“This will-to-fame is not cloistered and closeted within certain cultural activities or even certain types of people in the contemporary moment,” said David Marshall, a talking head in the film and professor at Deakin University and world leading- scholar in the study of celebrity and public personality systems. “Our online cultures and screens make it possible to imagine that we are all in pursuit of this mediatized influence, this form or celebrity, in one way or another to find some community, some interested audience or subculture that is beyond our immediate friends and even shapes our relationship and understanding of friendship – and this sentiment and behavior is happening globally.”
You can find out more about the film here.