I’ve primarily worked as a writer.
An outrageously fun side job I had was doing a voice on a cartoon (“Detention”). Unfortunately, with so many incredibly skilled voice actors and celebrities in the mix, that work is wicked difficult for an average Joe comedic actor (like me) to get.
Before coming out to Hollywood, I worked in the paint shop at a company that made those open refrigeration units you see at supermarkets. My job was to rub down sheet metal with solvent, hang it on racks, then wheel the racks into walk in ovens (which were always running) after the metal had been were painted. To say that job was a motivating factor in my move would be an understatement.
Since moving to Hollywood, most of my crazier jobs have been as an actor.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I presume you mean animation projects. Let’s see…Currently, I’m very much enjoying writing for “Scooby Doo, Mystery Incorporated”. The people there are great and they’re really putting a lot of thought into the series-wide arc and the whole re-invention of a classic series. Come on, it’s Scooby! What’s not to like?! In the past, I’ve enjoyed writing for “Histeria!” and “My Gym Partner’s a Monkey.” Can’t say I’ve really had a bad experience as an animation writer although some companies have been more clueless than others.
How did you become interested in animation?
Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve LOVED “cartoons.” My favorites were always by Warner Brothers (Bugs and friends) and early Japanese anime (Astroboy, Speed Racer).
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m a Mid-Western boy from St. Louis, MO who came out to Hollywood seeking fame and fortune and ended up in animation instead. ;c) My first gig was through a friend who was working as a story editor on “Aaah! Real Monsters” for Klasky-Csupo. He asked if I wanted to try to come up with some premises. I said sure and ended up writing five episodes for them. My “big” break into a full-time staff gig came when voice great Tress McNeil put out the word to the Groundlings that WB was looking for writers on a new show. The Groundlings (I was a main company member back in the 90’s) are a renowned sketch comedy/improv theater in Hollywood and had been mined during those years by WB for writing talent. The show was “Histeria!” which was all about selling history “education” through comedic parodies. I wrote a spec segment (they paid me) called “Amazing Revolutions” which was an infomercial-style parody of the Industrial Revolution. They liked it and I got a two and a half year writing job out of it.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
As a freelance writer, my typical day involves sitting at my desk and writing. I try to write something every day even when I’m not being paid (novels, screenplays, etc.). When I am being paid, I work on the outline or script in the morning, take a break for lunch, then write in the afternoon until about 3:00. Naturally, if there’s a deadline, I work until that deadline is met. When I’m on staff, just add an irritating commute, pointless meetings, and over-priced lunches to the above and you’ve pretty much got what my day is like.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I like the writing part. Seriously, I like nothing more than sitting alone at my computer with an approved premise/outline and writing the script. Sheer bliss.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Hmm. Well, since I consider writing to be a “solitary art,” one might infer that interacting with anyone or anything that gets between me and my keyboard is a problem. I’ve worked with some great people over the years, so I think that’s more indicative of my grumpy personality than my job , though. ;c) What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business? Finding new gigs. In a perfect world, there’d be a steady, uninterrupted flow of union freelance work (health insurance, mind you) – preferably for shows one half hour in length (script fees, mind you). Alas, as any animation writer will tell you, there are often huge gaps between gigs.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Although I’m long overdue for an upgrade, my aging Dell (Dimension 8300, XP, 21″ monitor) is still taking good care of me. For writing, I use MS Word 2010 for everything except scripts (premises, pitches/series bibles, outlines). For paid animation scripts I almost always use Final Draft (industry standard). For my own scripts I use my personal favorite, Movie Magic Screenwriter.
When I write, I like to listen to music, using iTunes on shuffle. My “writing music” folder is filled with “epic” soundtracks (LOTR, Gladiator) and anime themes (Spirited Away, etc.). New age/World music (Inya, Inkuyo, Deep Forest, etc.) fills out the rest of the list. Basically, I like mood-setting, atmospheric instrumentals. They help me tune out distractions and get into the zone.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Rode in an elevator with Mel Blanc when I first moved out to L.A. Don’t know if anyone else recognized him, but I sure did. We exchanged nods, but that was about it as I was too geeked out to say anything coherent.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Any side projects you’re working on you’d like to share details of?
I’m a published children’s author with two illustrated picture books to my credit. Lately, I’ve been focusing on middle-grade novels (9-12 year olds) and plan on self-publishing my first one on Amazon before the end of the year. Feel free to check out my blog:http://thenovelproject.blogspot.com/ormy Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/RogerEschbacherBooksormy Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Roger-Eschbacher/e/B001JS2U50/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
I have a fairly extensive animation writing FAQ on my blog and invite aspiring writers to check it out. The thumbnail version might be: write daily, move to where they do animation, network.