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.