Blog post

Student success - Josh Timmins

We put the spotlight on a budding film-maker whose chance encounter with an artist has earned him awards and accolades.

By The Corporate Communications Team - 10 July 2019

At the age of 21, budding filmmaker Joshua Timmins is already well on his way to showcasing an impressive portfolio.

After recently winning an award for Best Factual Film at the Royal Television Society Midlands Awards 2019, and scoring five spots across the world at a series of international film festivals, Joshua is taking the industry by storm.

Though his path to success is inspiring, it was by chance that he fell in love with film production.

Taking a leap

Growing up, Joshua was extremely talented when it came to his first ever passion: football. At the age of 12, he was sent to a prestigious sports school in Millfield, where his talent developed, and, aged 18, he was offered multiple football scholarships in America. Sadly, a knee injury halted his athletic dream and Joshua returned to the UK, completely lost.

“I decided to take the leap and re-apply to study back home in England at the University of Derby. I can safely say that this was the best decision of my life,” he said.

Joshua applied to the University’s Film Production course and is now in his final year of study.

“From a young age, I’ve always been very creative – I loved the fact I could express myself through visual means.”

An open door

On his first very first day walking to University, it was by chance that Joshua glanced into a house window to see a man painting in the front room. Without a thought, Joshua knocked on the door, which was slightly open, and walked in, expressing his interest in creating a film about art. It was only at this point did he realise that the artist, John McDonald, was profoundly deaf.

This chance encounter led to a beautiful friendship and the creation of their first film ‘Butterfly Cry’ which portrayed how painting allowed John to communicate with people once again and escape the dark place he was in.

A year after their first cup of tea, John underwent cochlear implant surgery that allowed him to hear again after 18 years of being profoundly deaf. It was at this point that the pair decided to create their second film, the heart-warming, award-winning ‘Swan’s Signature’.

Sharing a beautiful story

Joshua said: “This film expresses how hearing has not only completely opened up John’s world, but has also influenced his style of painting. To me, it’s more than just creating films – it’s being able to share a beautiful story that has inspired others to come out of their own dark times.”

Over the past three years, Joshua, while studying, has been focusing on his freelance career, filming promotional videos, weddings, festivals, and even dipping his toe into surf cinematography. However, he says his work with John remains his proudest achievement.

“The relationship that has formed between John and me is such a huge part of my life now – I feel very honoured to call him a good friend.”

You can view more of Joshua's work on his Youtube channel

For further information contact the Corporate Communications team at or call 01332 593953.

About the author

The Corporate Communications Team
University Press and PR

The Corporate Communications Team manage the University's Press and PR, putting forward academics, support staff and student representatives for 'expert comment' on different topics to local and national broadcast media. The team is highly experienced in communications and journalism - locally, regionally and nationally - as well as in-house and agency public relations.