In Their Own Words: Carter Wickham

By Nick Edwards

What do you plan to do with the rest of your life? That question troubles a new generation of young adults with each passing year. The idea of knowing exactly what you want to do with the rest of your time as a teen is a fruitless endeavor. It takes years of experience and knowing the difference between money and happiness. I sat down with senior Carter Wickham in the CHS library this past week and discussed his hopes, dreams, and plans.

Carter Wickham is originally from Los Angeles, California. Carter, as you’ll eventually discover, has been writing for close to 3 years now. He plans to go on to UCLA’s film school in Los Angeles for screenwriting.

Nick Edwards: Let’s start with the basics. Where do you plan to go to college?

CARTER WICKHAM: UCLA’s film school

NE: What sort of career are you looking at?

Students at the Vancouver Film School listen to a lecture. Photo used by permission from the Vancouver Film School.
Students at the Vancouver Film School listen to a lecture. Photo used by permission from the Vancouver Film School.

CW: Screenwriting. With screenwriting that means you write screen play, but also just because you’re a screenwriter that doesn’t mean you can’t do other things. For example directing, or editing the footage into the finished film. I prefer a degree in screenwriting mostly because to do a lot of that additional stuff you actually need a degree in screenwriting to do.

NE: How did you start writing for the first time?

CW: I was bored. Honestly. In the summer about 3 years ago I was bored, and I had an idea of teenagers traveling through time and I just got my laptop and started writing about it. That experience was really fun and enjoyable so I started doing more and right now I am on my sixth series.

NE: What present experience do you have with writing?

CW: With screen writing you have to explain what’s going on within a scene and the dialogue. With what I write, I’m very detailed with what I explain in the scene, and the dialogue that takes place. Some people, not trying to make me sound like the best writer ever, some people have said with some things I have written I have a gift with storytelling. Just keeping people interested and intrigued is something I enjoy.

NE: How are you preparing for college and your future?

CW: I’m still going to keep writing. The episodes I have written have gotten longer and more detailed. So that means more dialogue, for a screenplay that will someday most likely be 85 pages long. And the deadline for a UCLA application is November 30th. And I’ve already started that application

NE: What do you like about your choice?

CW:  I am from the state of California. That is where I was born and raised. I’m very used to a place that’s very different from Rapid. Plus the family is also there. And it’s not that South Dakota is a bad state, but for me, it’s not my home.

NE: Did you choose screenwriting for the large paycheck or interest?

CW: Interest. Let’s be honest, writers get paid less than anyone else in the industry. Plus if you’re writing for money, just get out now. First of all, writing for money is not fun. I’m doing this because I like it.

NE: Where do you see yourself in ten or so years?

CW: Well, hopefully I would love to see myself on the set of something I have written. Because it’s a dream of mine to get anything I have written, actually filmed. By an actual film crew where the footage is turned into a television show. In ten years, or if you account for college, six years, maybe it isn’t even the set of one of my shows, just a set.  I would like to write for any television show that I would like at the time.

NE: How much have your writing skills increased since your career choice?

CW: I write out there pages. Pages are just the basic outline of what happens in the episode. Not necessarily the entire dialogue, but it explains every event that does occur. It explains what the characters are doing, feeling, and you do get into some dialogue but it’s obviously not a script.. When I first started out in the summer of 2012, I probably explained what happened in that episode in under 100 words. The sixth show I’m writing now, each page is about ten-twelve pages long, getting more in-depth. The dialogue, and the scenes that happen. Just as an improvement for me, the episode titles have improved. The titles of the first show I wrote were so blunt. I’ve become more subtle with how I title episodes.

NE: Are you excited or nervous for the future?

CW: Obviously I’m excited because if I do get it, then hell yeah that’s my dream. I’m also nervous because writing for television is probably the hardest form of writing. A movie is only an hour or two long, but it’s made in six months and then shown to the world. With television you only have sixth or seven days to write an episode, film it, then do another one the same way. It will be very frustrating, but I guess one thing I might have is that I have written five TV shows. So if any of them get a chance to be filmed, they’ve already been written. I already know what each scene has to be like. So, excited but nervous at the same time.