For many filmmakers, getting a documentary screened in a festival is a means to an end. They attend cocktail parties, rub shoulders with producers, collect business cards, and hope that their selection is a springboard for more support down the line.
Rooftop Films, a New York City-based festival committed to screening selections outdoors since 1997, adheres to this idea, but with an interesting twist. If Rooftop selects a work, that filmmaker is automatically eligible for a grant. The organization sets aside $1 dollar from every ticket sold and every submission fee received, puts it in a giant (metaphorical) pot and then pulls from that pot to award grants to festival alumni.
Rooftop Films is currently accepting applications for three grants during its Fall cycle, and with the October 29th deadline fast approaching, we'd like to take a quick look at each. They include:
- Rooftop Filmmakers’ Fund Short Film Grant—Grants range from $500 to $3,000 for male and female filmmakers. Rooftop will fund three to six grants, totaling just under $8,000.
- Rooftop Films/Adrienne Shelly Foundation Short Film Grant for Women—A $3,000 grant to a single female director. (Like their compatriots at Sundance and New York Women in Film and Television, the Adrienne Shelly Foundation is committed to supporting women filmmakers.)
- Rooftop Films/DCTV Equipment and Services Grant—DCTV, a media arts resource for New York City's independent filmmaking community, will provide $5,000 in credits to two separate filmmakers for DCTV equipment, services or classes. Available gear includes cameras, lights, and sound recording.
If you're interested in any of these grants, we encourage you to click here and scroll to the bottom to the section called "What type of films does Rooftop Filmmakers fund?" There are a few important caveats to consider. For example, the site notes, "We are more likely to fund films for which this grant will have a large impact. That is, we are more likely to fund $3,000 of a $3,000 total budget than $3,000 of a $30,000 total budget. (Though we will provide funds for bigger budget films, too.)"
Once again, these grants are only available to filmmakers who screened their work at a previous Rooftop Films series. (Alumni filmmakers can only apply for a grant if they are director or co-director of the film for which they are applying.)
Look at it this way: If any filmmakers out there need another incentive to apply for the series, they now have one. You can see a full list of available grants here.