William grew up in Orange County, California and at a young age expressed a deep interest in graphic design, photography and film - even taking weekend classes at the Art Center of Pasadena before he was old enough to drive. He was President of the poetry club, Vice President of the Artists Guild, but he was also a punk rocker (and even appears in the seminal documentary The Decline of the Western Civilization part 3) and at the beginning of his sophomore year of high school dropped out.
After a short stint in San Francisco, William Kirkley moved to Los Angeles to pursue his passion for filmmaking. Not owning any equipment and having not gone to film school, William told bands he was a music video director. A few bands agreed to put up small amounts of cash to shoot on Super 8 and William’s lifelong dream of becoming a filmmaker was well on its way. One of those bands, The Fly’s, reached international acclaim with their hit “Got You Where I Want You” and William both documented their tour and made two music videos along with many other videos for many bands.
William moved to New York City where he befriended Warhol Superstar and Beat Poet Taylor Mead. Over a five year period William made the feature documentary Excavating Taylor Mead, narrated by Steve Buscemi and starring Jim Jarmusch, Paul Morrissey, Jack White and RZA. The film premiered at Tribeca and was named by Art Forum Magazine as one of the top films of the year. It was also included in the Whitney Biennial.
A few years ago William moved back to Los Angeles to pursue his love of all things filmmaking. William has traveled the world doing commercial and documentary work for Heineken, Reebok, SOS Children’s Villages, Chevrolet and many others. William’s commercial work gravitates towards real people and lifestyle.
William is also currently in production on his second documentary feature on a group of surfers and hippies out of Laguna Beach that were the largest distributors of LSD and Hash in the world in the Sixties.