William D. Wittliff, sometimes credited as Bill Wittliff, is an award winning American screenwriter, author and photographer who wrote the screenplays for The Perfect Storm, Barbarosa, Raggedy Man and many others.
Wittliff was born in Taft, Texas and moved to Blanco as a teenager. He studied journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and worked for a publishing house in Austin and was business and production manager for the Southern Methodist University Press in Dallas. In 1964, he started his own publishing house, Encino Press. The last book from the Encino Press was Blue & Some Other Dogs by John Graves, issued in 1981.
Wittliff wrote Country and the film would have been his directorial debut, but he quit after his cinematographer was fired.
Wittliff met Willie Nelson in the late 1970s and he was a writer on Honeysuckle Rose and Barbarosa, which both starred Nelson. Wittliff agreed to write a script based on Nelson's album Red Headed Stranger. Wittliff finished a draft in 1979 and Universal Studios green-lighted the film with a budget of $14 million. The studio wanted Robert Redford to play the "Red Headed Stranger," a role Nelson had envisioned for himself. Redford turned the part down and Nelson and Wittliff gave back their advances to buy the script back. Wittliff went on to direct and co-produce the film Red Headed Stranger.