American Gem 2006 Short Screenplay Competition - NARROW ESCAPE
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Ralph Pritchard

Runner Up

Ralph Pritchard
of Shediac, NB, CANADA
Romantic Comedy

Born in Rochester, NY and raised in Canada since the age of 4, Ralph carries dual citizenship. He attended school and married in Ontario and then moved to New Brunswick where he is now employed with the Federal Government. The second oldest in a single-parent family of eight, Ralph has developed a solid work ethic along with a broadened perspective on life.


I knew I wanted to be a screenwriter.......  

When I realized that it was essential to have a script in order for me to direct and have more opportunities to play a part in a movie.

I know I've succeeded.......  

when my grown up children call me up and say “Dad, I saw you in a movie at the movie theatre and it was awesome!”

My inspiration to write NARROW ESCAPE.......

came mainly from looking at the daily struggles of couples around me. Almost every woman that has read the script has said “that’s my husband to a tee!” There may be some distant similarities with my own life and relationships but you would really have to look hard to find them. (Not so says my wife Jan)




FilmMakers Magazine: What inspired you to write?

Ralph Pritchard: The inspiration to actually write a screenplay came in the fall of 2005 when I played an RCMP Sergeant in a feature length movie. Although I enjoyed the time when I was actually performing the role, I didn’t enjoy the waiting around. That winter I took a course on auditioning and took the words to heart when the instructor said “If you want to be in the filmmaking business you have to be able to do just about everything, write, act, direct, crew, cast, etc.” since there are not that many opportunities in our neck of the woods. I joined the local filmmaker’s co-operative and immediately realized that if I wanted to do all those things, I first needed a script.

FilmMakers Magazine: How did you prepare yourself to write your first script? 

Ralph Pritchard: Not knowing anything about writing a screenplay and having just missed the course offered by the local filmmaker’s Co-op, I made my way to the library and took out a screenwriting book by Syd Field. I read the book in three days, bought Final Draft (an automated script writing tool) on-line that Friday (since I am a bit of a computer geek)

FilmMakers Magazine: Is this your first script and how long did it take you to write NARROW ESCAPE?

Ralph Pritchard: Yes, this was my first script. After downloading the screenwriting software, I spent 2 hours on Saturday writing the first half and 2 hours on Sunday to write the second half.

FilmMakers Magazine: Do you have a set routine, place and time management for writing? 

Ralph Pritchard: During writing on the second day, I learned to use the index card feature in the program and I found it extremely useful for keeping myself organized. Now that I have written 3 screenplays, I have found that writing in short bursts on a regular basis keeps the ideas fresh and keeps you from falling into a procrastination rut (I know I’m probably the only one that this happens to but I thought I would mention it anyway).

FilmMakers Magazine: Do you believe screenplay contests are important for aspiring screenwriters and why?

Ralph Pritchard: The same day (Sunday) that I finished my script I found out that my local filmmaker’s co-op was running a screenplay competition. Aside from some freebies, the winner got, what to me was the most valuable prize of all, a panel of experts who would critique your script right there in the same room with you. You just can’t put a price on that!

FilmMakers Magazine: What influenced you to enter the American Gem Short Script Competition?

Ralph Pritchard: Realizing that entering screenplay contests would be a great way to get feedback from experts, I started looking for other contests that I could send my script to and found the American Gem Short Screenplay Competition. The very next day, I sent my script to both that competition and the one running locally. Again the thing that appealed to me the most about the American Gem contest was the idea that experts would be reviewing the script. The fact that I would be able to see on a regular basis where it stood against the others would give me an idea of how it was measuring up. When I found out that I was on the top 200 list, I felt that I was heading in the right direction and was content if that was as far as I got. I did not even dare to dream that it would have gone as far as it did.

FilmMakers Magazine: What script would you urge aspiring writers to read and why?

Ralph Pritchard: As much as I may have complained every time that my wife dragged me to see a chic flic, I was rarely disappointed. Two weeks before I wrote the screenplay, we had gone to the vault and pulled out and watched “The American President”. This film worked for me so when I started writing NARROW ESCAPE, I found The American President screenplay on-line and read it. It gave me a sense of the flow and was easy to read. I therefore would highly recommend it to aspiring writers.

FilmMakers Magazine: Beside screenwriting what are you passionate about and why?

Ralph Pritchard: I am hooked on filmmaking now and I love acting and directing. I love being able to visualize how something could look and then to see that vision surpassed in full color and sound due to the talented contributions of cast and crew!

FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?

Ralph PritchardAction and romance (and not necessarily in that order) are the 2 genres that I like the most and so if I had my choice of directors to work with it would be James Cameron since he had me spellbound in both Titanic and Terminator(s). It’s a happy coincidence that he is my favorite screenplay writer, again for both film projects.

FilmMakers Magazine: Name the director you would love to work with and why?

Ralph Pritchard: James Cameron.

FilmMakers Magazine: Name the actor you would love to work with and why?

Ralph Pritchard: As a good husband, I love what my wife loves and she loves Meg Ryan as an actor. Her films are a staple at our house: Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry met Sally, You’ve Got Mail, etc. Since I do have a mind of my own, I can say that I would love to work with her.

FilmMakers Magazine: Any tips and things learned along the way to pass on to others?

Ralph Pritchard: One thing that I have found that has worked in my favor is the time that I have spent in Toastmasters (non-profit organization dedicated to improving public speaking). Over the 12 or so years that I have been involved I have written and delivered over 150 speeches and I have honed my imagination through the impromptu speaking exercises. The thing that really clinched it for me was the drive to not stop once I got started. For example, just because you send your script to a few people, don’t just sit back and wait for a telephone call or rejection, find some friends and start filming it. Join a filmmakers co-op, read other people’s scripts, hang out on websites like, get involved in other people’s movie projects and so on.

FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?

Ralph Pritchard: I am continuing to write and am finalizing my third script which by the time you read this will be at least 75% filmed. I am waiting to hear back from a large Canadian broadcaster as to whether they are interested in using my script as a pilot for a weekly sitcom and I will pitch my latest script as a one hour weekly drama once I have filmed it.

FilmMakers Magazine: Where will you be five years from now?

Ralph Pritchard: In 5 years I will be acting in and directing weekly TV Series and the occasional feature film. I almost feel like Colonel Sanders of KFC who started his career in his sixties.

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