FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS and GENERAL ADVICE
+ Can I apply with more than one project?
Yes. Keep in mind, the panel wants to know that with any film we are considering supporting that the filmmaker is completely committed to making the film and will stop at nothing to get it made. If you have more than one project going at once, you need to convince us that each film will in fact get made. The more films you are juggling, the less likely it seems that any one film will get made.
Also, if you apply with more than one project, please be sure to follow the instructions in the submission procedures and make a separate folder for each of your applications.
+ Can I apply again with the same film if I didn't receive funding the previous year, or if I did receive funding?
Yes and yes. We love to see people stick to their projects, and understand that it can take years to make a film, through many changes and ups and downs. Many of the films we have funded were films that had applied in multiple years.
+ What’s the best way to answer the question, “Tell us about the film you are making – what is the plot, what will we see on screen?
We think 400-800 words for this section are good length to aim for.
Be literal: This scene, then this scene, then this scene, then the finale. An outline format works (but do keep it dramatic, emotional).
When writing a narrative, from scene to scene, always think in terms of “so therefore” and not “and then.” For example, don’t write, “Mark rings the doorbell but no one answers. Then Mark walks across the bridge.” Instead, write, “Mark desperately rings the doorbell over and over, but no one answers. So therefore, feeling alone and dejected, Mark shuffles to the bridge.”
Don’t tell us back story or character history if it isn’t going to be in the movie. So don’t tell us, “Mark has been lonely ever since his parents died when he was 13” unless you have some way of conveying that on screen. Such as: “Mark visits a graveyard, laying flowers on stones marked “Beloved Mother and Father,” the death dates now in the distant past. His head down, he passes a parade without thinking to celebrate and returns to his sparse apartment to check his email: nothing.”
We do not want teasers, cliffhangers, mysteries, open-ended questions, etc. We want to know what happens. The sort of synopsis which takes us right up to the point where the story makes its decisive turns is great for press releases but not right when you’re seeking funding. Although Rooftop’s role in getting this film made may be relatively small, in many ways we are like producers, and we want to know exactly what we’re getting. So tell us point by point what happens in your whole story.
+ What’s the best way to answer the question, “Tell us about the film you are making – what is your artistic vision, what is the significance of the film?”
This question is pretty open-ended, but here you can tell us about what drew you to the subject matter, what passion you have for it, and why you think other people will care. You can also tell us about the tone and the style of the film. If you would like to reference other films, your own or those of others, that can be helpful. The grant panel will have seen your other work, so saying whether it will be similar or dissimilar to what you’ve previously done can be a useful comparison.
+ I am making a fiction film using an improvisational technique, so I can’t provide the story yet – or – I am making a non-fiction film using an observational technique, so I can’t provide the story yet . . . so how can I best tell you about the film I am making?
If making fiction based on improv, what is the core story you have in mind, or the feeling you’re trying to discover, or the idea you’re exploring, or the tone you’re setting? What are you telling the actors to start them in the process, and what do you do to take them from scene to scene? How will you build this improvisation? What will you shoot? Where will you be? What problems do you hope to tackle?
Similarly, if making non-fiction, what drew you to this subject? What emotions, ideas, stories? How do you hope to capture it? Through purely observational footage? With or without language? With voice over? With titles? What structure or possible structures can you see it taking? Will it be structured by a plot, or through a series of characters, or by different themes within the subject matter (ex. a section on health care law, then a section on the pharmaceutical industry), or by some over-arching structure (ex. “A day in the life of...”). You may not know exactly, yet, but how are you planning your shoots or approaching your editing process?
+ What is the best way to answer the questions about our production and post-production plan, schedule and needs?
Tell us your timeline, as specific as possible.
Tell us your collaborators, briefly. (We don’t need bios, just that an editor is on board, or a DOP, or whatever is crucial).
And most importantly, relate your answer to the grants for which you are applying. If you are seeking a cash grant, what will the cash be spent on? If you are seeking an equipment or service grant, how will the grant serve your project specifically?
+ Do I have to submit a video sample or still images? If so, what is the best material to submit?
If you have a video sample or still images, we recommend you submit them. After all, you're making motion pictures. We know there is often a fear of showing incomplete work, but usually something concrete and visual is more enticing than mere description. We are accustomed to looking at works-in-progress, and are trying to help you complete it. By showing us material, you make a strong case that you will in fact complete the film.
If possible, to give the most complete picture of your film, we recommend you submit three work samples in one or two video links:
• a trailer (2 minutes), to show the emotional and visual spark of the film
• a representative scene (5 minutes), to show what the film is like
• a rough cut, to show the entirety of the story and scope of the film
If you do not have any or all of these elements, that's understandable. Many filmmakers have received grants before they shoot or edit. But if you do have live footage, please submit it. If you don't, we recommend submitting a look book, a series of stills or sketches, or something to visually represent your film.
+ I was the producer or writer on a film that screened at Rooftop. Am I eligible to apply?
No. Only directors who had their work screened are eligible to apply as directors. We appreciate that film is a collaborative medium, and respect the contributions of all the collaborators, but with over 2,500 directors who have now screened at Rooftop Films, we must limit the grant eligibility to that pool. In this way, we can more clearly judge the director's vision for the new film.
If you have further questions, please email Rooftop Artistic Director Mark Elijah Rosenberg at filmfund [at] rooftopfilms [dot] com.