Prof Turns From Scholarship to the Silver Screen

Meeting with Producer Leads to Music and Acting Role in Japanese Movie

Oct. 12, 2009

Dr. Nathan Berg, associate professor of economics, will be traveling to Japan this month to write music for and portray one of four leading roles in Japanese director Yoshihiro Fukagawa’s feature film, Golden Miracle.

While teaching over the summer as a guest professor at Osaka University, Berg saw a film called Swallowtail Butterfly, which dealt with the socio-economic themes of immigration, globalization, ethnic conflict and economic inequality.  A composer and performer himself, Berg decided to send some of his work to the film’s producer, Shinya Kawai.

The producer invited him to meet with Fukagawa.  What was originally a 30-minute  meeting evolved into a three-hour audition and culminated in Fukagawa offering Berg a lead role acting and playing one of his own songs in Golden Miracle.

Berg, a fluent Japanese speaker, plays an American musician living in Japan.  Nearly 80 percent of his lines are delivered in Japanese.

“My character is a musician from New York who follows his girlfriend to Tokyo and continues playing concerts while working in an up-scale cake shop making desserts,” Berg said.

He will star in the film alongside Japanese actors Yuu Aoi, Yoosuke Eguchi and Keiko Toda.

Berg specializes in behavioral economics and economic demography in his teaching and research in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences (EPPS).

Berg credits Dr. Yuki Watanabe, senior lecturer in both EPPS and the School of Arts and Humanities, with helping him develop his Japanese language skills to the point that he could take on the Japanese film project.

Since joining the UT Dallas faculty in 2001, Berg has written prolifically in academic journals while continuing to compose songs about economic themes.

Media Contact: Taylor Buttler, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected]
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected]

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Nathan Berg Economics professor Nathan Berg, a fluent Japanese speaker, will play an American musician living in Japan.


A Sideline Creative Career

The movie will not be Berg’s first foray into the performing arts.

The former member of the University of North Texas’ One O’Clock Jazz Band moved to New York City when he was 17 and released a solo jazz CD the following year to favorable reviews. 

Fish Without Fins album coverNathan Berg's CD “Fish Without Fins”

He toured and recorded with Maynard Ferguson for several years before returning to Lawrence, Kan., to complete his university education. While completing his master’s degree in mathematics and a PhD in economics, he fronted a rock band. 

A video of one of Berg’s songs about the limited benefits of specialization in times of economic crisis can be found here.

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May 22, 2018