Interview with Jonathan McHugh, Co-Director of Cosplay Documentary Now Streaming on TVOD

Cosplay Universe is a documentary film about the art of cosplay, and was released this summer and is now streaming on TVOD. Jonathan McHugh is a director, music supervisor, and producer and worked alongside co-director Jordan Rennert on the project. Some of Jonathan’s past work includes Blindspotting (2021), Snoop Dogg’s “Hood of Horror” (2006) and Saw II (20005).

I had the opportunity to discuss Jonathan’s work on Cosplay Universe with him. He talked about how he learned about cosplay, what the driving inspiration was, and more!

When did you first learn about the cosplay community?

I wrote and produced a film for Snoop Dogg to star in called “Hood of Horror.” It was a campy horror film. When it was done we were invited to San Diego Comic Con to do a panel about the film. I had never seen that many people dressed up before except for Mardi Gras. I went to college in New Orleans and I used to dress up every year. Long after college I would be invited to ride in Mardi Gras parades, where you HAD to dress up?

That fun loving Mardi Gras culture is such a release for people and Cosplay felt the same to me but much deeper. At the Con’s people are dressing up to show their fandom for their favorite characters. Many also show their passion for the art form and the costumes craftsmanship, where at Mardi Gras people just dress up to party at a high level.

What inspired you both to create “Cosplay Universe?”

After I went to my Comic Con with Snoop and our movie I had always been interested in it. Then I met my co-director Jordan Rennert who was working on a film about the history of Cosplay. I got involved and we decided we wanted to make a different Cosplay film. Around that time I worked with a Japanese rock star who was very familiar with the Anime/Cosplay culture.

He recommended we go over and shoot at the World Cosplay Summit in Nagoya, Japan and that became a big part of our film. I found the psychological nature of Cosplay SO fascinating. I wanted to get a clear understanding of what it can do for people to transform and really help find themselves on many levels.

Who are some of your favorite cosplayers you’ve worked with?

I think Svetlana Quindt (Kamui Cosplay) and Yaya Han, who are both featured in our film are truly inspirational. They both found this love of dressing up and creating/ building and turned their passions into careers.They have shared so much with the Cosplay world that it is amazing to watch. We are so excited to have their inspirational stories in our film.

What is a favorite scene or most memorable moment from the film?

For me there are so many that it is hard to choose. Spending time interviewing Stan Lee for the film towards the end of his life was incredibly memorable as are so many of the inspirational stories in our film.

Thanks for reading! Cosplay Universe is now streaming on platforms such as Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, VUDU, and more. You can keep up with Jonathan on IMDb.

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Jenny Poole

Film, TV & Music Journalist, Writer & Teacher. Over 10 years covering the entertainment industries, working with major US and Global outlets.