As a filmmaker, Rory Karpf specializes in directing films that tell emotional and compelling stories.
In 2007, Karpf directed the critically acclaimed theatrical release Dale. Based on the life of legendary racer Dale Earnhardt and narrated by Academy Award winning actor Paul Newman, the film became the highest selling sports DVD of all time. Sports Illustrated said, "The film 'Dale' is terrific. It delivers such an intimate look at the driver that it feels as if we've all been invited out to the Earnhardt ranch to watch some home movies. 'Dale' covers it all and it is an enjoyable and enlightening ride."
In 2008, Karpf directed The Ride Of Their Lives, a film on the history of NASCAR, narrated by Academy Award winner Kevin Costner. that aired on the Showtime cable network. Sports Illustrated said , "It's one thing to tell us about NASCAR... it's another to show us... and it's something altogether different to put us right there in the driver's seat. "The Ride of Their Lives" does that and you cannot help but be in utter awe." That same year, Karpf directed the official music video for the film, "Backyard" by Kevin Costner and Modern West. In 2009, Karpf directed Together, about the tragedy that took the lives of ten team members of the Hendrick Motorsports team in 2004. The film aired on ABC television and is narrated by Academy Award nominee Tom Cruise. ESPN said, "The film is impeccably done, the definitive movie about one man's soaring highs and devastating lows." USA Today called the film, "Emotionally raw… it gets to the heart of its subject."
In 2010, Karpf was included in the prestigious list of filmmakers to direct a film for ESPN's 30 for 30 series; a list that includes Academy Award winners Barry Levinson, John Singleton and Albert Maysles. "To The Limit" tells the story of Tim Richmond, one of the first athletes to die of AIDS. The film was one of the best reviewed in the series with Slant Magazine saying "To Karpf's credit, the impressive documentary To the Limit is one of only a few films in the series that tells its story with a clarity that we didn't have when the events occurred."
2011 was a banner year for Karpf. He wrote and directed the dramatic feature Wendell Scott for ESPN Films. Based on the life of the African-American motorsports pioneer, the film received wide praise for its authenticity. It aired during Black History Month. Later that year, Rory went on to direct the World War II drama Battle Scars starring actor Luke Perry. He also wrote and directed the short film Marbles, an official selection in the Los Angeles Short Film Festival. Karpf capped off the year with the emotionally gripping sports docudrama Herschel, which documented the life of football star Herschel Walker and his battles with mental illness.
In 2012, Rory produced 40 Minutes of Hell, a documentary on the life of legendary coach Nolan Richardson, featuring former United States President Bill Clinton. That same year, Rory directed Lolo for ESPN Films, about track star and pop culture icon Lolo Jones. 2012 was also significant for Karpf, as he launched his own full service film production company First Row Films. In 2013, Rory directed the ESPN 30 for 30 Short film Silver Reunion, a documentary on the 2008 Atlanta tornado titled Miracle 3, and partnering with the Wounded Warriors Foundation on the special Heroes Come Home. On September 24th, The Book of Manning, written and directed by Rory, premiered on ESPN. The film on the legendary Manning football family was one of the highest rated documentaries in ESPN history, and trended worldwide on Twitter.
In 2015, Rory was Executive Producer on the popular series, "Snoop & Son: A Dad's Dream", featuring pop culture icon Snoop Dogg and his son Cordell. He followed that up by directing the ESPN 30 for 30 "I Hate Christian Laettner", which he also produced with actor Rob Lowe. The film was one of the highest rated in ESPN history and also trended on Twitter. Upcoming projects include two films in the "SEC Storied" series, a series on FOX and atheatrical film release.
In 2017, Rory was Director for the ESPN 30 for 30, "Nature Boy" which explores the life of professional wrestler Ric Flair. The documentary includes two candid interview sessions with Flair 16 months apart.
Rory Karpf started his career at NFL Films. He has won five Emmy awards and a Peabody. He currently lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with two sons.