Writer and director Tim Kirkman was born in Monroe, North Carolina, the third child of a public school educator and a music teacher, and spent his childhood in nearby Wingate, North Carolina. He received a bachelors degree in graphic design from North Carolina State University and a master's degree in media studies from The New School in New York City.
His feature film debut, Dear Jesse, was released theatrically by Cowboy Pictures in 1998. A documentary film about the political and personal parallels between the gay filmmaker and the notoriously anti-gay U.S. Senator Jesse Helms, Dear Jesse, made its cable television debut on HBO/Cinemax's "Reel Life" series and was nominated for an Emmy Award in the News/Documentary Writing category in 2000. The TV broadcast version of the film featured an interview with Matthew Shepard, a college student whose murder called attention to gay-bashing and hate crimes.
His second film, the performance documentary The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me, David Drake's solo off-Broadway hit play about writer Larry Kramer, was released by FilmNext in 2000.