When Timothy Williams graduated from the VCA with a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing in 2014, he set his sights on writing TV dramas.
After spending several years as a part-time scripted development assistant for Matchbox Pictures, he got his chance on the second season of the ABC’s The Heights, produced by Matchbox and For Pete’s Sake Productions’ Peta Astbury-Bulsara.
Williams joined the emerging writers’ room after being part of the observer program, which involved the participants writing scenes for the first season of the show co-created by Warren Clarke and Que Minh Luu.
The fact that he was born with Spina Bifida, a condition that affects the spinal cord and his mobility, made him well qualified to write scenes for Sabine, the character played by Bridie McKim, who has cerebral palsy.
“Tim brought a unique insight and lived experience to our writers’ room which has enriched many of our storylines, including those involving Bridie, in series two,” Clarke, the showrunner, tells IF.
The screenwriter says his disability, which he has learned to live with, blessed with the support of family and friends, helped him to understand the emotions experienced by Sabine and to write about them in a truthful way.
Bridie McKim in ‘The Heights’ (Photo credit: ABC).
He learned a lot in The Heights writing room, particularly from Romina Accurso, Hannah Carroll Chapman and Megan Palinkas. Matchbox Pictures’ producer Stephen Corvini, director of scripted development Debbie Lee and development exec Paddy Macrae are among his other mentors.
He got his first taste of a writers’ room when he spent a week as a notetaker with the creative team headed by Tony Ayres and Benjamin Law on Matchbox Pictures/SBS’s The Family Law.
That led to the three-days-a-week gig as script development assistant, working on such shows as Glitch, Wanted and Seven Types of Ambiguity.
Clarke knew Tim was a writer to watch when he read the spec pilot for his original series Best Medicine, which revolves around an out-of-work actor who performs as a clown doctor in a teenage cancer ward. His life takes on unexpected new meaning as a result of his time spent with a ward full of complex patient.
Williams drew on his own childhood experiences in hospital when he fleshed out the script, which was developed at a five-day script lab for five emerging regional writers, staged by Screenworks and Matchbox Pictures in Lismore last year, led by UK writer Holly Phillips and the Matchbox script development team.
Eventually he would like to create his own shows but for now, he says, “I want to get more scripts under my belt.”