Telling Pictures is a film and television production company founded by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman in 1987. We produce feature films, television documentaries, and branded content. 


Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman have been working in movies and television for over 30 years. Their work as directors, writers, producers, and editors has been honored with two Academy Awards®, five Emmy Awards, and three Peabody Awards. They have had career retrospectives at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London, the Taipei International Film Festival in Taiwan, and the Cinémathéque Québécoise in Montreal.

Rob and Jeffrey are executive producers of Killing the Colorado, a feature documentary about the water crisis in the Western United States. Based on an investigative journalism series in ProPublica, the film includes segments directed by Barbara Kopple, Jesse Moss, and Alan and Susan Raymond. It will premiere on the Discovery Channel in August 2016. Jeffrey and Rob also recently directed and co-produced "The Hell-Raiser", a short documentary about a renegade evangelical preacher, for Alex Gibney's Amazon Prime series "The New Yorker Presents."

Epstein and Friedman are best known for their groundbreaking feature documentaries.

Rob Epstein directed The Times of Harvey Milk (1984), for which he won the first of two Academy Awards® for Best Documentary Feature, as well as Peabody and Emmy Awards and a special Sundance jury prize. The film was named Best Documentary by the New York Critics Association and was inducted to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. It is now part of the Criterion Collection.

In 1987, Rob and Jeffrey started Telling Pictures, a San Francisco-based production company. The first film they directed and produced together was Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt (1989). a feature documentary for HBO about the first decade of the AIDS epidemic in the U.S. Common Threads won the Academy Award® for Best Documentary Feature as well as a Peabody Award.

Their film The Celluloid Closet (1995), a hundred-year history of queer images in Hollywood movies, featured interviews with Tom Hanks, Whoopi Goldberg, Susan Sarandon, Shirley MacLaine, Tony Curtis, Gore Vidal, Paul Rudnick, and many others. It premiered at Sundance (Freedom of Expression Award), the New York Film Festival, and the Berlin Film Festival (Teddy Award, Best Documentary). The film won a Peabody Award and an Emmy Award for Directing. It was released by Sony Pictures Classics and premiered on HBO.

Paragraph 175 (2000) told the hidden history of Nazi persecution of homosexuals. It premiered at Sundance, where it won the Jury Prize for Directing, and the Berlin Film Festival, where it received the FIPRESCI Prize for Best Film from the International Federation of Film Critics.

More recently, the team produced and directed And the Oscar Goes to (2014), a feature documentary about the art and craft of moviemaking as told through a history of the Academy Awards, including interviews with Steven Spielberg, George Clooney, Tom Hanks, Jane Fonda, Whoopi Goldberg, Helen Mirren, Ben Kingsley, Cher and Liza Minnelli.

In 2010, Jeffrey and Rob wrote and directed their first dramatic narrative film, HOWL, a multi-layered genre-bending ride through Allen Ginsberg's prophetic poem. HOWL stars James Franco, with David Strathairn, Jon Hamm, Jeff Daniels, and Mary-Louise Parker. It premiered as the opening night selection at Sundance, followed by a European premiere at the Berlin Film Festival. It received the National Board of Review's Freedom of Expression Award and is distributed by Oscilloscope.

Their next dramatic narrative, Lovelace (2013), recreated the making of the first porn megahit "Deep Throat" - and the first porn superstar Linda Lovelace. The film starred Amanda Seyfried as Linda and Peter Sarsgaard as her abusive husband/manager, with Sharon Stone, Juno Temple, Bobby Cannavale, Chris Noth, and James Franco. Lovelace premiered at Sundance and Berlin and is distributed by Radius-TWC.

Rob and Jeffrey's television directing credits include seven episodes of "Crime & Punishment" (2001-2), Dick Wolf's nonfiction "Law & Order" spinoff for NBC. They have directed two feature documentaries for The History Channel / A & E, and have produced short segments for ABC, HBO, MSNBC, and the Playboy Channel. 

Jeffrey and Rob co-authored The Art of Nonfiction Movie Making with Sharon Wood (Praeger Press, 2012).

Epstein (left), Friedman (right)

Epstein (left), Friedman (right)