David Chester

Posts by David Chester for Blog:

Keep at it!

Posted by David Chester on 24 May 2019

My FIT adventure has traversed many hills and valleys over 25 years. It seems to have now settled into a slightly bizarre space where my main work is from writing genre-specific writing screenplays for US-based producers. The type of FIT work that filled most of my hours has almost evaporated. 

That said, when I do look for some occasional extra jobs, what I've been seeing is a drop in salaries for almost all type of FIT work, which is sad. If a company thinks they can shave ¥200 off an hourly salary, they will. It used to be the standard for companies to pay in the vicinity of ¥3,000-4000 per hour for English teachers. The same would go for editing or copywriting or basically any kind of writing job. Voiceover jobs (narrations) have gone down too, unless you have been working for the same agent who is able to secure the "good gigs."

I have seen this across the board. Companies are expecting a bilingual person to come in and do a laundry list of tasks that require excellence in languages, writing, editing, and more, for between ¥1,200-1,500 per hour. That is a bad joke, not to mention insulting. 

Many of these jobs are on Craigslist -- although I cannot condemn Craigslist, because I got at least one job that, over the years, has paid me well. Other jobs are on "Jobs in Japan" and similar sites for people  who are preferably bilingual, young and ready to commit to vast swaths of time and life to a company. 

To some degree I address this topic (in a slightly different way) in FIT. 

My advice: Create your OWN FIT experience and do not rely on these companies AT ALL. You can teach independently. You can make your own VO demo at home and contact people all over the world to sell your talents. If you do decide to get involved in Japanese film/TV and hope to be an actor, do NOT take "extra" roles. I went against my own advice last year and did an "extra" job for a film, because it was 9 days of work and it seemed doable at the time. We were often on set for 11 hours and did NOTHING, and then, when I saw the finished film and saw that I was in it for about 3 scattered seconds (trust me, I wasn't going for "fame"), I thought, why did I agree to do that? It was ¥15,000 a day, plus food. I did meet some fun people (also NOT some fun people), and one of the stars of the movie was a young man who I had coached for an English-speaking role in a major Hollywood movie. It was good to see him again, but other than that... uh, an absolute no. 

Unless you are independently wealthy (and if you are, you aren't reading this), yes, I understand; you need to work to eat and take care of yourself and your family. Sometimes, some of the FIT jobs I refer to above (teaching, in particular) WILL pay certain bills, and SOME of those jobs might actually pay an acceptable salary. But don't get locked into them. Create your own scenario; in the long run, it's the best strategy. 

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Speak up!

Posted by David Chester on 23 January 2019

Hi all. I know I haven't posted a blog in eons, but, as usual, I've been running around trying to do it all.

My focus has been my screenplays, and I'm really happy to report that my most recent screenplay, TILLIE, placed as a finalist in a competition. That was gratifying, considering it took about two years of my life to complete it. That said, other than writing my screenplay, my freelance work in Tokyo included working on a feature-length motion picture and performing at a 5-star hotel.

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August 2018 Consult Discounts!

Posted by David Chester on 30 July 2018

Hello everyone!

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Social Security: An Essential Read

Posted by David Chester on 3 July 2018

Hello all. It's been a while since I've blogged here. Like most of you, I am freelancing and doing my best to survive. It's not always been easy. 

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Twenty-five years later...

Posted by David Chester on 31 March 2018

Celebrating spring with Mt. Fuji in the background.

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Welcome to 2018

Posted by David Chester on 4 January 2018

Happy New Year to all! I wish everyone a fantastic, healthy, wealthy 2018.

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Invent Yourself

Posted by David Chester on 28 October 2017

For me, one of the best things about living and working in Tokyo has been the unique opportunity to discover my strengths. I would have never thought I could do screenwriting when I first came here 24 years ago. But circumstances led me to it, and I can say that it has now become my "calling." 

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Posted by David Chester on 7 June 2017

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I was interviewed today for an upcoming (hopefully) review of FIT in Metropolis, one of Tokyo's oldest English-language weeklies (print, and now online). The interviewer had carefully prepared her questions and it was a great morning in which I was able to share what I thought was of value for those who continue to define themselves as freelancers in T-town. 

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Twenty-four years later...

Posted by David Chester on 2 April 2017

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I arrived in Tokyo on April 1, 1993. I was thrilled beyond belief. I had been to Japan twice before, once in 1988 when I was a musician on Royal Viking Cruises, again in 1989 as a pianist working at one of the last Playboy Clubs in the world (located in Roppongi). I had had a taste of the unusual, the bizarre, the beautiful, the strange, the enchanting... and more. I knew I wanted to return. 

I brought USD $8,000 with me, because I already knew that in order to "purchase a phone line" (that's what you had to do back then) and rent an apartment, I would have to shell out a lot of money. I did. I went through every conceivable emotion as I grappled with setting up my new life. Check them off the list: living in a 6 tatami-mat room and sleeping on a thin futon; struggling to get a visa sponsor; fighting homesickness; being shocked at the price of food; loving and hating everything at the same time; getting my own apartment (I was told that the landlord was "not a racist," so there wouldn't be any problem), and any other misadventure a gaijin could have. Finally, after about eight months of doing anything I could think of to make everything come together, I was "legally" in Japan and able to start my new life.

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