About Rob Epstein
After taking a bus from New York City to San Francisco at age 19, Rob Epstein answered a classified ad seeking a production assistant on a documentary in early development and met his mentor Peter Adair, thus beginning his filmmaking career. Rob quickly rose to co-director, with the other members of the Mariposa Film Group. The film became the landmark documentary Word Is Out, released in theaters in 1977, and recently restored for DVD.
Rob’s next project was the Oscar-winning feature documentary The Times of Harvey Milk, which he conceived, directed, co-produced and co-edited. The film touched audiences immediately, becoming an international festival sensation, and winning the Academy Award for Best Feature documentary as well as the New York Film Critics Award for Best Non-Fiction film of 1985. In 2013 it was selected by the Library of Congress for the National Film Registry.
Rob won his second Oscar for the documentary Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt, made with Jeffrey Friedman, with whom he started Telling Pictures in 1987. Rob's other films with Jeffrey include Where Are We?, The Celluloid Closet (Emmy Award for directing), and Paragraph 175 (Sundance Film Festival jury award for directing).
In moving from documentary to dramatic narrative, Rob was the recipient of the American Film Institute Directing Intern Fellowship, on the 1991 Martha Coolidge film Rambling Rose, Starring Laura Dern, Robert Duvall, and Diane Ladd.
Rob and Jeff collaborated on the narrative feature HOWL, starring James Franco, followed by Lovelace, starring Amanda Seyfried and Peter Sarsgaard. Both films premiered at the Sundance and Berlin Film Festivals. HOWL was developed at the Sundance Institute Writer's Lab, and was released theatrically by Oscilloscope Laboratories. It received the Freedom of Expression Award from the National Board of Review.
In addition to his Oscars for The Times of Harvey Milk and Common Threads, Rob has received several Peabody and Emmy Awards, and Guggenheim and Rockefeller Fellowships. In 2008, Rob was recognized with the Pioneer Award from the International Documentary Association for distinguished lifetime achievement. He has also received achievement awards from Frameline (1990) and Outfest (2000). Rob and Jeffrey were Sundance Screenwriting Fellows in 2009 with the screenplay for HOWL.
In addition to his filmmaking career, Rob is a professor at California College of the Arts, where he also serves as chair of the Film program. He has been a visiting professor at the Graduate Film Program at Tisch School of the Arts/NYU. He currently serves on the board of the Yerba Buena Center of the Arts in San Francisco, and is a member of the Directors Guild of America, and of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, where he currently serves on the Board of Governors.
About Telling Pictures
Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman are among the few directors, writers, and producers in the independent film world traversing non-fiction and scripted narrative. Rob and Jeff's partnership began in 1987 when they opened an office in a former convent and Catholic girl’s school in San Francisco and founded Telling Pictures. Their films have screened throughout the world in movie theaters, at major film festivals (including Sundance, Berlin, Venice, Telluride, Toronto, and New York), and on television and home video. Between them they have received two Academy Awards, five Emmy Awards, three Peabodys, and Guggenheim and Rockefeller Fellowships.
Their new feature Lovelace tells the complicated story of Linda Lovelace, the first "adult film" superstar. The film, starring Amanda Seyfried and Peter Sarsgaard, premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival, where it was acquired by Radius-TWC for Fall 2013 release. Lovelace had its European premiere in February at the Berlin Film Festival. Their new short documentary The Battle of amfAR also premiered at Sundance this year.
Their previous film HOWL, starring James Franco as the young poet Allen Ginsberg, was the opening night film at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, and in the official feature competition at the Berlin Film Festival. It was released by Oscilloscope Laboratories in the U.S. and The Match Factory abroad (Freedom of Expression Award, National Board of Review, 2011).
Their other films together include Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt (Academy Award, Feature Documentary, 1989), Where Are We? (Sundance Documentary Competition, 1991), The Celluloid Closet (Emmy Award for directing, Peabody, duPont-Columbia Awards, 1995), and Paragraph 175 (Sundance Film Festival jury award for directing, 2000). Prior to their partnership, Rob directed the Oscar-winning classic The Times of Harvey Milk.
For television they produced and directed episodes of Crime & Punishment (2001-2), Dick Wolf's non-fiction NBC prime-time spin-off of Law & Order, HBO's America Undercover and Real Sex, as well as for ABC, PBS, and MSNBC.
Retrospectives of Rob and Jeffrey's work have been curated at the Institute for Contemporary Art in London, the Taiwan International Film Festival, and CameraImage in Poland.
About Jeffrey Friedman
Jeffrey grew up in New York City, where he began his career at age twelve, acting professionally off-Broadway.
He began his film training by apprenticing to some of the most respected filmmakers in the business, on such films as Marjoe (Academy Award, Documentary Feature, 1972) and William Friedkin's The Exorcist (1973). He worked with the legendary editor Dede Allen on the Arthur Penn segment of Visions of Eight (1973) and later with Thelma Schoonmaker on Martin Scorcese's Raging Bull (Academy Award, Film Editing, 1980).
Jeffrey went on to edit a number of documentaries for television, starting with the NBC prime-time documentary series Lifeline (1978). He worked with director Carroll Ballard for three years, in the Yukon, Alaska, and Northern California, on the Disney feature Never Cry Wolf (1983). He then edited the PBS documentary Faces Of the Enemy (1987), for which he received a co-directing credit with Bill Jersey. He edited the PBS Great Performances special Jammin: Jelly Roll Morton on Broadway (1992), about the George C. Wolfe musical Jelly's Last Jam featuring Tonya Pinkins and Gregory Hines, narrated by Denzel Washington. He recently edited Kings Point (2012), nominated for an Academy Award in the documentary short category.
Jeffrey first worked with Rob Epstein as a consultant on The Times of Harvey Milk, and then as an editor on Rob's episode of the PBS series We The People with Peter Jennings. In 1987 Jeffrey and Rob started working together as a filmmaking team and formed their production company Telling Pictures.
Together Jeffrey and Rob produced and directed and Jeffrey co-edited Common Threads: Stories From the Quilt (Academy Award, Documentary Feature, 1989) and The Celluloid Closet (Emmy Award for directing, 1995). They also produced and directed the international documentary co-production Paragraph 175 (Sundance Jury Prize for Directing, 2000).
Their first dramatic narrative film was HOWL (2010), starring James Franco. Howl premiered on opening night at the Sundance Film Festival, followed by the Berlin and London International Film Festivals. It was the closing night film at the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Film Festival and the opening night film at Outfest. It was released theatrically and on home video by Oscilloscope Laboratories in the U.S. and internationally by The Match Factory. HOWL received a 2011 Freedom of Expression Award from the National Board of Review.
In 2000 Jeffrey and Rob were honored with an achievement award by Outfest, the Los Angeles LGBT film festival. In 2009 they were Sundance Screenwriting Fellows with their screenplay for HOWL.
Jeffrey has taught filmmaking in the graduate program at Stanford University and at California College of the Arts. He is a member of the Directors Guild of America and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.