Over his first four years in Japan working as an actor and model, Christopher McCombs had become increasingly frustrated by the limited options for foreign artists.

"I was getting tired of the parts available for foreigners in Japan," says McCombs, 37, one of the founders of short-film production company Tokyo Cowboys. "You could be a lost foreigner, a rude foreigner or a loud foreigner. Only one of those three."

The "final straw," he says, came in 2014.