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
when my grown up children call me up and
say “Dad, I saw you in a movie at the movie theatre and it was
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)
What inspired you to write?
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)
Is this your first script and how long did it take you to write
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.
Do you have a set routine, place and time management for writing?
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?
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?
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.
What script would you urge aspiring writers to read and why?
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.
Beside screenwriting what are you passionate about and why?
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!
Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?
Ralph Pritchard: Action
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.
Name the director you would love to work with and why?
Name the actor you would love to work with and why?
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.
Any tips and things learned along the way to pass on to others?
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
Filmmakers.com, get involved in other people’s movie projects and so
What's next for you?
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
FilmMakers Magazine: Where will you be five years from
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.